Take Me Home (Paperback)
Harper Perennial, 9780061769092, 304pp.
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
“Leung’s writing is exquisite, deceptively plain, deeply felt and spiritually high, with dead-on depictions of the world as it is.” —San Francisco Chronicle
From Brian Leung, author of Lost Men and World Famous Love Acts (winner of both the Asian American Literary Award and the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction) comes a story of forbidden friendship in an Old West mining town. Set amidst the racial tensions surrounding the Rock Springs Massacre, Take Me Home makes the desperate coal mine culture of Wyoming come alive. Readers of Annie Dillard and Annie Proulx will thrill for the latest book by this exciting voice in American literature.
About the Author
Brian Leung is the author of the novel Lost Men. His short-story collection, World Famous Love Acts, won the Asian American Literary Award and the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. Born and raised in San Diego County, he currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he is the Director of Creative Writing at the University of Louisville.
Praise For Take Me Home: A Novel…
— Denver Post
“A sweeping, action-packed novel.”
— Louisville Courier Journal
“Take Me Home is a riveting novel of two heroic people attempting to transcend the prejudices of their time and place. Through Leung’s skillful artistry and empathy, we see the worst aspects of humanity, but we also see the best.”
— Ron Rash, author of Burning Bright and Serena
“Heartfelt. . . . Leung’s writing is so clear and lovely and his characters are so well-realized . . . The character of Wing speaks eloquently for thousands of Chinese miners whose voices are lost to history.”
— Dallas Morning News
“Every now and then, a small, quiet, well-crafted novel is just what the doctor ordered. . . . Take Me Home by Brian Leung fits the bill.”
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“This beautiful novel is about forbidden friendships, secrets kept, and one woman’s quest to stay alive.”
— Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“The story is set in 1880s Wyoming, and Leung has re-created the warp and woof of the territory with faithful clarity. . . . An indelible picture of the Wyoming Territory and two unlikely lovers.”
— Shelf Awareness
“[Leung] spins a fascinating tale of tough women confronting loneliness, prejudice, and forbidden love.”
— The Advocate
“Brian Leung’s exquisitely crafted novel Take Me Home is a story of the Old West for investigative readers, a necessary and cautionary tale spun from the lessons of real history. . . . [His] lyric gifts as a novelist bring the deftly plotted story alive.”
— Louisville Magazine
“Leung wisely narrows his plot into a tightly woven and unusual love story. . . . [His] writing, in fact, has a train-like rhythm that will keep any reader turning the page to see what the journey home looks like.”
— Kentucky Monthly
“Brian Leung captures the haunting landscape, harsh conditions, and abundant racism of late 19th century Wyoming, and he also leaves the reader with the hope that, while amends can never be made for past cruelties, the future may be somewhat brighter.”
— Historical Novels Review
“The coal mine culture of Wyoming comes alive in this story of forbidden friendship.”
— Lambda Literary
“A powerful story about friendship, love, and eventual triumph, set against the dramatic backdrop of 1880s Wyoming. It is thought-provoking, crisply written, and compulsively readable.”
— The Tucson Citizen
“An engaging and beguiling novel about prejudice, relationships and the possibilities of redemption.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[A] lyrical sophomore novel . . . . Evocative . . . . Leung’s subtle, perceptive saga closes on notes both touching and patriotic.”
— Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating depiction of life, love, and racial strife in the mining camps of the 19th-century American West. . . . In this work of insight and sensitivity, Leung succinctly portrays how Chinese miners of the era were resented and what happened to people who crossed the racial barrier.”
— Library Journal
“Take Me Home is beautiful. The language of Brian Leung’s novel is poetic and surprising and yet still manages to capture the coarseness, the beardedness of Rock Springs, Wyoming. It’s a smart book that offers an important window into the West and therefore the American story.”
— Percival Everett, author of Wounded and I Am Not Sidney Poitier
“Take Me Home is very much about humanity--very much about our need to love, no matter how forbidden. Lovers of history and heroines will want to devour this book.”
— Nami Mun, author of Miles from Nowhere
“Brian Leung’s Take Me Home is powerfully imagined. . . . [His] pristine prose recounts a time of tough women dealing with the loneliness of the Wyoming plains and the unforgiving landscape of an 1880s coal-mining town, a time when we were all immigrants in search of a place we could call home.”
— Helena María Viramontes, author of Their Dogs Came With Them and Under The Feet of Jesus
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- The concept of “home” appears often in this story—the home that Tommy builds, Wing being in foreign territory, and Addie being uncertain “whether folks came to Wyoming Territory to live or to die.” How do you think “home” evolves for Addie and Wing as the novel progresses? Which character does the title speak to?
- Addie and Wing have a deep bond, almost from the first moment they meet. List the reasons why the two are drawn to each other and why Addie comes to trust Wing more than anyone, “except maybe Tommy.”
- On page 154, Wing claims, “One language is never enough.” Do you agree? Describe times in your life when you’ve also felt that words weren’t enough to capture life’s experiences.
- Addie comes to a new territory and then is alone, “the last Maine she knew of,” fairly soon after. Can you imagine being in her shoes? Being in a territory where there wasn’t much space for women?
- The landscape serves as a character in this book, the “anonymity of open space” serving as a backdrop for constricting social forces. List scenes where you see the landscape interacting with Addie and Wing’s relationship, either as an antidote or as a restricting force.
- On page 223, Addie states, “For us, Wing, there’s no such thing as anywhere.” Do you agree with her?
- The dreams of the men in the novel are listed on the page—Tommy’s homestead, Wing growing oranges—whereas Addie’s are more vague. What do you see as her dreams?
- Muuk can’t be intimate with Addie during their marriage and then there is a surprising moment upon her return to Dire years later. How do you explain his inhibitions?
- Addie tells Maye on page 231, “Its love…but not the kind you’re thinking.” Do you believe Addie here?
- Addie gives Ah Cheong a memento from Wing to take back to China. Harkening back to the theme of home, do you think people “belong” in certain places?
- At the book’s end Addie she acts kindly toward Muuk.How does this shape how we feel about Addie at the end of the novel?
- What did you as a reader want for Addie and Wing? And, is this possible given their period? Discuss how the genre of historical fiction can both limit its characters via their context but also expand their possibilities through imagination.
- Though Take Me Home is centered on a particular moment in history, its themes of xenophobia and building an “American” identity are certainly still contemporary. Discuss the echoes from the book in the debates about immigrant labor we are engaged in today.