HT Tsiang s The Hanging on Union Suare is an absurdist comic adventure similar in plot to Bunyan s Pilgrim s Progress only instead of an early modern everyman attempting to find Christian salvation in a postlapsarian world it features instead a depression era American trying to get money in downtown Manhattan among conmen sexual deviants and various and sundry anti capitalist radicals Along the way he gets caught up in a public suicide performance art project that a thriving corporate America desperately wants to monetize The novel is as crazy as it sounds and I thoroughly enjoyed it though I have a taste
for the odd and absurd that I m not sure many the odd and absurd that I m not sure many people share The novel is so unlike most other books published So much so in fact that the author was forced to self publish it back in the 30s because it was rejected by everyone else Lucky for us Penguin Classics has republished it this year I d say if you enjoyed the early Tao Lin novels and would like to see that style combined with John Dos Passos socialist social commentary before a trip to the Soviet Union and his experience in the Spanish Civil War disillusioned him with leftism then The Hanging on Union Suare is for you A strange take on America in the 1930s the Depression the New Communism Socialism Capitalism written by an eccentric Chinese intellectual philosopher and actor Worth the New Deal Socialism Capitalism written by an eccentric Chinese intellectual philosopher and actor Worth A strange but fascinating glimpse into an era in American history that feels suspiciously similar to our own HT Tsiang was a Chinese American poet and troublemaker who was active during the Great Depression He self published this book and printed the rejection letters on the inside cover It s an absurd funny at times chilling romp through the communist movement in 1930s New York which from this book at least seemed like a surprisingly strong movement Imagine in 15 years Darryl Issa starts blacklisting actors who sympathized with Occupy New York and you ll have a pretty good frame of the times As a novel it had its problems but as an encapsulation of an era and a point of view that I ve never seen represented it was a worthwhile read I ll split the difference and give it 3 stars HT Tsiang s 1935 novel originally rejected by every publishe. Originally self published in 1935 HT Tsiang's hallucinatory uasi experimental novel Hanging on Union Suare explores leftist politics in Depression era New York an era of union busting and food lines in an ambitious style that brilliantly blends Gertrude Stein's playful language with the political satire of Carl Sandberg's prose fables It follows.
H.T. Tsiang ☆ 0 REVIEWAt I read More accurately 355 starsA
Bizarre Melange Of Style And Form Themelange of style and form The On Union Suare is indebted primarily to socialist realismrevolutionary romanticism and agitprop
*DRAMA BOTH CONTEMPORARY TO TSIANG IN *both contemporary to Tsiang in York where he was living as a leftist agitator and student I m not sure I d call the novel a success it is however at the very least an interesting mess of a book The plot meanders in fits and starts the characters are unsurprisingly fairly one dimensional with names like Mr Nut Mr System and Miss Digger that clue you in to what their deal is pretty uickly The main character Mr Nut is a fairly typical everyman character and Tsiang works hard to make him as broad as possible Whereas his previous books especially China Has Hands were focused on racial identification as well as class issues here Tsiang largely drops the former in favor of the latter Though its possible to read Mr Nut as a version of the author himself its probably much easier to read him as generically American and by extension presumably white Tsiang s message about class and capitalism is at the forefront of the novel and its possible he wished to avoid turning away any potentially sympathetic working class readersThe mix of humor and grotesue imagery and scenes makes for a novel that reads as modern than its 1935 publishing date A weird book its hardly a surprise that Tsiang had reads as modern than its 1935 publishing date A weird book its hardly a surprise that Tsiang had self publish his books Nevertheless a partial triumph of sorts for a book its author ambitiously subtitles An American Epic After finishing The Hanging on Union Suare it s easy to see why publishers would have been reticent to take a chance on this book in 1935 it s a bold novel even by today s standards HT Tsiang s socialist Communist Leftist Whatever labels are dumb allegory centering around protagonist Nut s travels around Union Suare no doubt has renewed significance in the post Occupy world a timing which makes Kaya s publication of the novel far from coincidental But than topical plot Hanging s allure lies in Tsiang s playful wordsmithing and experimentation with form poetry philosophical waxing non seuiturs Even if you don t care for the destination the ourney on which Tsiang takes you is darn enjoyable and lamentably short. Day Tsiang's style combines satirical allegory with snatches of poetry newspaper uotations non seuiturs and slogans as well as elements of classical and contemporary Chinese literature Adventurous and unclassifiable in its combination of avant garde and proletarian concerns Hanging on Union Suare is a major rediscovery of a uniuely American voic. R and printed by the author himself has finally the Penguin Classic treatment an astounding reversal of for a seminal Asian American work unlike anything you ve ever read Written almost allegorically it slips the bounds of that genre with a provocative complex approach to politics class and race that is ust as relevant and hilarious today The riots desperation evictions demeaning gigwork misplaced capitalist pride socialist organizing and police infiltration in Tsiang s Union Suare are eerily similar to our Union Suare todayWhat makes this book so durable is the way it refuses to be pigeonholed This short novel 174 pages of text aligns with the satirical work of George Schuyler s 1931 Black No More it plays broadly but bitterly as a critiue of class and limitations of social movement on American bodies The last fifteen pages are especially biting offering the connective tissue
to texts as varied as ohn dos passostexts as varied as John Dos Passos USA trilogy Carlos Bulosan s America Is in the Heart Nathanael West s The Day of the Locust or Ann Petry s The Street Mr Tsiang takes us on a surrealist s Il metodo dell'ovulazione. Atlante journey in the LES during the Great Depression Era We follow Mr Nut an everyday schmoust trying to make his way up in the world but not uite catching a break He is not a smart man but he has his honor and his pride which don t always work in his favor He is relatable as are all of Tsiang s symbolic characters Ms Digger who only goes for rich men Stubborn who cannot keep a ob because she doesn t dig deep enough Mr Wiseguy the opportunist always trying to get over and Mr System the greedy businessman whom Mr Nut This book deserves to be well known It s a story set in the Depression focusing on a guy sitting in a restaurant who gets a bill for 10 cents but he s lost a nickel and only has 5 cents So he sits there all day long trying to find his lost nickel and trying to borrow a nickel from someone else in the "Restaurant The Story Develops From There Involving All The People "The story develops from there involving all the people meets while he s seeking the extra 5 cents to pay his bill As it is written in the introduction to this book reading this is like stepping inside someone else s hallucination It is very odd and I still can t uite figure out what it is th. The peripatetic musings of a young man throughout a single day that takes him from a worker's cafeteria to a world of dinner clubs and sexual exploitation in the highest echelons of society and back again to the streets of Greenwich Village where starving families rub shoulders with the recently evicted Each chapter comprises a single hour of the. .