Leung, Brian (J.)
LEUNG, Brian (J.)
Born in San Diego, CA. Education: Indiana University, M.F.A., 2000.
Author and educator. California State University, Northridge, assistant professor.
Mary McCarthy Prize in short fiction, Sarabande Books, 2002, for World Famous Love Acts.
(With Eve Adamson and Nikki Moustaki) Not Another Feel Good Single's Book, Alpha (Indianapolis, IN), 2003.
World Famous Love Acts (short stories), Sarabande Books (Louisville, KY), 2004.
Contributor of poetry and short fiction to Story, Crazy-horse, Grain, Gulf Coast, Kinesis, Mid-American Review, Salt Hill, Gulf Stream, River City, Bellingham Review, and Connecticut Review.
Brian Leung's first collection of short stories, World Famous Love Acts, won the Mary McCarthy Prize in short fiction from Sarabande Books—a prize that included publication of the collection. Upon publication, the book brought Leung much praise for his portrayal of both human diversity and commonality. The characters include an actress who works in pornographic films, an elderly farmer contemplating his mortality, a gay couple traveling across the country, and children who channel their anger by playing make-believe games of murder. Some of the characters, like Leung, are of Chinese heritage, and most of the stories relate in some way to the small town of Blue Falls, Washington. Leung's overriding theme, in the eyes of a Kirkus Reviews contributor, is "the fragility of people's connections both to one another and to their roots."
The narratives in the book show Leung to be a "master storyteller," commented Carol Haggas in Booklist. His characters "leave their mark on the reader's psyche" and "reveal the common thread connecting us all," she added. Nicholas Fonseca, writing in Entertainment Weekly, observed that Leung's characters "present a wide and satisfying range" and that the author describes their lives in "beautiful, concise prose."
Brian Leung told CA: "I recall in first grade writing a single sentence about a plane taking off without my teacher who had told us she was going to visit her grandmother. This sentence, along with a brilliant illustration, pleased Ms. Rodgers greatly. From that point on I was always the student who could write, though my heavy consumption of television should have thwarted any talent I had. Still I proceeded with my little stories, clever and unchallenged. But when I got to college I ran into a kind of buzz saw named Kate Braverman, an absolutely brilliant Los Angeles writer. She hated the 'cuteness' of what I was writing. After some initial resentment, I understood that in order to grow as a writer, I had to abandon 'easy pleasing,' as I now call it. From that point on, I started to consider myself as a writer and reader and thinker with much to live up to.
"First I'm struck, angered, titillated, or bemused. I mull. I mull some more. I mulled a novel for a year before ever writing a word. Then, I cursed every morning I woke because I had to go to the computer. I can't stand sitting down to write, though after about five minutes I wonder why I didn't get up earlier. Depending on how long I can fight off the cats, I write for about three hours a day, and then the world intrudes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2004, Carol Haggas, review of World Famous Love Acts, p. 1138.
Entertainment Weekly, April 23, 2004, Nicholas Fonseca, review of World Famous Love Acts, p. 86.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2004, review of World Famous Love Acts, p. 103.*