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Inside Beauty

     I lay the dress on Ma’s bed and continue looking. Yves Saint Laurent shifts, Pierre Cardin dresses, one of which is a cream-colored car wash mini worth god knows how much. And oh—the Givenchy. It’s Ma’s go-to little black dress, one she’s had forever. It’s hard to believe it’s not traveling with her to the Caribbean. The first time Dad left, I was 16 and in high school. Ma packed a suitcase with only 3 dresses, and this was one of them. I set it carefully beside the red Pucci and go back for more.

       Herve Leger. Dior. Chanel.

      Oh my god. Another Givenchy. This one a gown. Ma’s last boyfriend must have invited her to a black tie ball. Deep V neck. Sleeveless. Halter-like and with a fitted waist. Silk sheer-paneled netting, a floral macrame design elegantly hiding the breasts, and yet drawing the eye straight to it. There’s a rear central vent, cut from the same sheer panel netting as the front, embroidered with dots like a bride’s veil.”

“Christina Chiu’s Beauty is beautiful in the way of a scalpel blade.  It’s that sharp and precise, that lacerating, that true.”
 – Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Hours


“I can’t think of novel more unflinching in its portrayal of lust, love, and parenthood. Christina Chiu has a unique gift as a storyteller for unflinching honesty, and the ability to see the transcendent in the details. Beauty is a novel of one woman’s life, epic in emotional proportion. I was captured by Beauty and gleefully held there through to the last page.”
 – Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day and Pym


“Beauty immediately caught me with its propulsive force and kept me mesmerized with its lyrical writing, insight and humor as we watch the sweep of a woman’s life, from young to old, through loves, lies, children, marriages, artistic promise and failure, and the changing meaning of ‘beauty’. I couldn’t put this book down, and I was so sad when such a richly described world came to an end.

Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of The Evening Hero

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CHRISTINA CHIU is the grand-prize winner of the James Alan McPherson Award for her novel, Beauty. She is also author of Troublemaker and Other Saints, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Troublemaker was alternate selection for BOMC and QPB, a nominee for a BOMC First Fiction Award, and winner of the Asian American Literary Award.Chiu has published in magazines and anthologies, including Tin House, Charlie Chan is Dead 2, Not the Only One, Washington Square, World Wide Writers, The MacGuffin, the Asian Pacific American Journal, Acorn, Grandmothers: Granddaughters Remember, and Not the Only One. Her stories have won awards and honorable mention in literary contests such as Playboy, Glimmer Train, New Millennium, New York Stories, World Wide Writers, Explorations, and El Dorado Writers’ Guild.Chiu is the recipient of the Robert Simpson Fellowship, the Alternate Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Van Lier Fellowship; she won the New Stone Circle Fiction Contest, won second place in the Playboy Fiction Contest, and was nominated for the Stephen Crane First Fiction Award. She has been a Wiepersdorf Fellow and a Claire Woolrich Scholar.Chiu curates and co-hosts the Pen Parentis Literary Salons in New York City. She received her MFA in writing from Columbia University.