‘HAGS’ by Jenny Zhang

“HAGS” was published as poetry, but it’s mostly prose, and it reads like a 500-page novel compressed into a 17-page story written in the form of a lyric essay. It’s about being a woman, a young woman, a daughter, a member of a family, an immigrant in New York, an Asian person in an American context, a politically-engaged person, a person who can wield language to match anyone else’s wielding, a consumer and critic of multiple cultures and pop cultures, a reader, a worker, a thinker. Everything about the story, especially the way it is written, is more interesting than the way I’ve just described it. Jenny Zhang’s fiction is in some ways the fulfilment of the promise made by William Goldman, when he described The Princess Bride as an abridgment, with only the good parts left in. Except that William Goldman was aiming for wish-fulfillment, and Jenny Zhang is aiming straight at the ugly and the true.

Originally published as GUILLOTINE Series Chapbook #7 in 2014; out of print but available as a PDF here

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