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Engine Empire


Cathy Park Hong (Author)

Overview | Formats

"A brainy, glinting triptych . . . . Novelistic, meditative, offbeat, and soulful, Cathy Park Hong's poetry is many fathoms deep." —David Mitchell

Engine Empire is a trilogy of lyric and narrative poems that evoke an array of genres and voices, from Western ballads to sonnets about industrialized China to fragmented lyric poems set in the future. Through three distinct yet interconnected sequences, Cathy Park Hong explores the collective consciousness of fictionalized boomtowns in order to explore the myth of prosperity. The first sequence, called "Ballad of Our Jim," draws inspiration from the Old West and follows a band of outlaw fortune seekers who travel to a California mining town during the 1800s. In the second sequence, "Shangdu, My Artful Boomtown!" a fictional industrialized boomtown draws its inspiration from present-day Shenzhen, China. The third and last section, "The World Cloud," is set in the far future and tracks how individual consciousness breaks up when everything—books, our private memories—becomes immediately accessible data. One of our most startlingly original poets, Hong draws together individual voices at odds with the world, voices that sing their wonder and terror.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • August 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-393-34648-0
  • 6.2 × 8.3 in / 96 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverEngine Empire: Poems


Endorsements & Reviews

“An entertaining read, even as it says stark and haunting things about race, love, technology, and the capacities of language to hide or reveal unwelcome truths. . . . While there have always been lots of writers warning us about the corruptibility of language in the wrong hands, few others have made an unbrave new world such a pleasure to discover.” — Craig Morgan Teicher, Bookforum

“Reading this book feels like listening to a symphony: Themes develop, vanish and recur amid Hong’s abundant verbal music. . . . Hong’s triumph is to alienate us from ourselves in order to reaffirm what makes us human.” — Dave Lucas, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

“Part of what makes that worthwhile is Hong’s ability to turn her language into more than pastiche, developing styles of writing that feel dense with the historical richness of the English language—a history of borrowing, invention, and manipulation that Hong honors, in part, by making room for her own inventiveness. . . . a sustaining book, one that believes in the value of being moved by words—the value, that is, of being human..” — Jonathan Farmer, Slate

“Cathy Park Hong does everything short of inventing her own language in order to show cultures clashing and spilling into each other.” — NPR.org

“Starred review: Grapples with vocation and origin in a globalizing era. . . . full of luminous surprises.” — Publishers Weekly

“Will force you to question the possibilities life offers, in the past, the present, and the future.” — Jeff Alessandrelli, Prairie Schooner

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