Edge Case by YZ Chin [in Booklist]
Eighteen days is all it takes for the (d)evolution of a marriage in YZ Chin’s debut novel. Edwina and Marlin are green-card-seeking Malaysian transplants to New York City. She’s a quality-assurance analyst (and only woman) at AInstein, where she works on joke-telling robots. He’s a software engineer. Their two-year-old marriage implodes with a bang when a steam pipe explosion at the start-up sends Edwina home early to discover that Marlin is gone.
By the time she meets him again two-and-a-half weeks later, she’ll have become a carnivore, learned to dowse, been assaulted by a coworker, and accidentally swiped “yes” on a dating app. Surprisingly, she finds herself just about ready to consider a new future.
Chin’s non-love story moves back and forth in time, interspersing Edwina’s desperate day-by-day search with her (occasionally unreliable) backstory as half a couple. To that dual time line, Chin clumsily appends a distracting frame in which Edwina addresses a (not-quite) therapist as “you.” Even an abundance of Very Important Issues – body-shaming, women in tech, profiling, inter- and intra-racial prejudices, immigration inequity, and animal welfare – ultimately can’t save Chin’s narrative from disappointment.