Vintage (Penguin Random House)
Published March 28, 2023, On Sale Now
Ro is stuck. She’s just entered her thirties, she’s estranged from her mother, and her boyfriend has just left her to join a mission to Mars. Her days are spent dragging herself to her menial job at a mall aquarium, and her nights are spent drinking sharktinis (Mountain Dew and copious amounts of gin, plus a hint of jalapeño). With her best friend pulling away to focus on her upcoming wedding, Ro’s only companion is Dolores, a giant Pacific octopus who also happens to be Ro’s last remaining link to her father, a marine biologist who disappeared while on an expedition when Ro was a teenager.
When Dolores is sold to a wealthy investor intent on moving her to a private aquarium, Ro finds herself on the precipice of self-destruction. Wading through memories of her youth, Ro has one last chance to come to terms with her childhood trauma, recommit to those around her, and find her place in an ever-changing world.
About Gina Chung
Photo credit: S.M. Sukardi
Gina Chung is a Korean American writer from New Jersey currently living in New York City. She is the author of the novel SEA CHANGE (Vintage, March 28, 2023; Picador, April 13, 2023 in the Commonwealth and in the UK on August 10, 2023), which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and named a 2023 B&N Discover Pick and a New York Times Most Anticipated Book, and the short story collection GREEN FROG (Vintage, 2024; out in the UK/Commonwealth from Picador in 2024). A recipient of the Pushcart Prize, she is a 2021-2022 Center for Fiction/Susan Kamil Emerging Writer Fellow and holds an MFA in fiction from The New School's Creative Writing Program and a BA in literary studies from Williams College. Her work appears or is forthcoming in One Story, The Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, Catapult, Electric Literature, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Idaho Review, The Rumpus, Pleiades, and F(r)iction, among others. Her stories have been recognized by the American Short(er) Fiction Contest, the Black Warrior Review Contest, the Los Angeles Review Literary Awards, the CRAFT Elements Contest, and the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest, as well as named Longform Fiction Pick of the Week.
Praise for SEA CHANGE
2023 B&N Discover Pick of April
A Most Anticipated Book of 2023 (Literary Hub,
One of the 105 Buzziest Debut Novels of 2023, Readers' Most Anticipated Book of March, Most Popular Debut Novels So Far This Year, 7 New Books Recommended by Readers,
99 Upcoming Books the Goodreads Editors Can't Wait to Read —Goodreads
"Sea Change is a standout of the 2023 debut class. It will pull you in from the first page and not let go as you traverse through a sea of originality. It’s filled with stunning and scrumptious prose."
—Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful
“This stellar debut novel opens on a horny octopus. I feel like this blurb could end there, because you’re probably sold, but I’ll keep going. . . . Gina Chung writes about the marvels of marine life with such intense care and beauty. . . . Sea Change is sure to make a splash! (Sorry.) Get ready to dive in!”
—Katie Yee, Lit Hub
"Trust us: This unique, smart, emotionally rich book is a must-read."
"Delightful and slightly off-kilter . . . This off-beat tale has heart."
"Charmingly offbeat. . . emotionally involving"
"Compelling and surreal. . . a disarmingly moving study of grief, healing, and intergenerational trauma."
"Heartfelt. . . With great tenderness, Chung explores the themes of family and belonging, the people who come in and out of our lives, the ones who leave, and the ones who stay."
"Sea Change turns the Asian American family drama on its head. . . . It posits that the heart of healing often lies in the friendships we choose to cultivate and the relationships we choose to preserve."
"Awash in effective and moving storytelling. . . Fiction in which young adult characters recognize the full humanity of their parents --- their intricacies and flaws --- is nothing new, but Chung addresses these issues with unusual perception and care."
"Sea Change is an immersive and unforgettable debut, that melts the cockles of your heart."
“Gina Chung’s Sea Change is both elegant and jagged, sharp and lush. It’s so utterly original, with Chung’s rich and rewarding prose guiding and charting new territory in love and grief and growth. This novel about settling into yourself, changing alongside your family, eclipsing expectations, and searching for hope in infinitude is humorous and ruminative, transcending genres entirely. Chung’s writing is masterful, and Sea Change is glorious.”
—Bryan Washington, author of Memorial and Lot
“There are no limits to what Chung can do. Her prose is so immersively beautiful that at times I felt swept away in a wave, admiring from underwater, her scintillating refractions of light. Chung’s debut is a kaleidoscope of originality. She will enchant you.”
—Weike Wang, author of Joan is Okay
“Sea Change tugged at my heart and refused to let go. With tenderness and perceptiveness, Chung deftly navigates family, loss, friendship and the intricacies of love, especially for ourselves. Between giant Pacific octopuses and humans, this remarkable debut reminds us that we are not so different—all of us hoping to be witnessed, all of us striving to surface through our loneliness to connect, even when we know nothing is permanent.”
—Elaine Hsieh Chou, author of Disorientation
“A wild blessing of a debut. Gina Chung’s curiosity, precision and grace have created a world both strange and recognizable, the kind of place you can find a version of yourself you did not know existed, and call her home.”
—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk
“Absolutely stunning debut. My heart went out to damaged Ro and how much she cares for Dolores, the fascinating Pacific octopus who remains the last physical memory of her missing biologist father. Full of longing, mystery, fear and hope. I loved this book to pieces!”
—Frances Cha, author of If I Had Your Face
"From the first page, Sea Change stole my big weirdo heart. Ro is a narrator whose voice is so lively and distinct that it doesn't matter if you relate to her or her octopus obsession—she is electric and you would be willing to follow her anywhere. With her debut, Chung has proven she is a true original, the rare kind of writer who can be simultaneously witty and deeply sensitive, confident and devastatingly vulnerable."
—Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl
"Gina Chung's Sea Change enthralls as it nourishes, illuminating the complexity of family, love, loss, and the often-surprising journey to self-understanding with precision, tenderness, and wit. I carried this book around with me for days, returning to it every chance I got, yet in the end reluctant to leave it or Chung's characters behind. A sensitive and unforgettable debut, it's one of my favorite reads of the year—and it will be one of yours, too." —Nicole Chung, author of A Living Remedy
“Sea Change heralds the arrival of a new talent. Weaving deftly between humor and longing, Chung's masterful prose interrogates what it means to be alive—and all of the growth, heartache, love, and friendship at the center of it. Marvelously original, tender, and moving, Sea Change will stay with readers long after they've surfaced from its pages.”
—Qian Julie Wang, author of Beautiful Country
"Soulful, evocative, and wise. Sea Change is a powerful meditation on grief and healing, as well as family, immigration, and intergenerational trauma. I marveled at Chung’s prose: restrained yet bursting with emotional depth—a style that is difficult to accomplish, yet Chung executes it masterfully. I didn’t want this story to end."
—Daphne Palasi Andreades, author of Brown Girls
"Gina Chung’s Sea Change is a tender, perceptive, and sumptuously original debut. Narrator Ro is a little lost, a little lonely, nursing her sorrows with drink. Who hasn’t been there? As she navigates heartache and grief in their multitudinous forms, we are reminded of the ways the ones we love the most can hurt us deepest. Sea Change is a novel of vast empathy, flickering between humor and vulnerability as deftly as our beloved octopus Dolores changes her colors. A glittering debut."
—Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me