Bill Cheng’s first novel, Southern Cross the Dog, debuted in June. His book, a fine example of writing what you don’t know, has been billed as “audacious” and “ambitious,” but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a review that doesn’t wonder at the novelty of a Chinese-American man from Queens, New York, writing about rural black Mississippi.
Cheng’s writing is strong. Take, for example, this quick characterization: “Cutter was unclean, one of the men said. Kept goofer dust in his shoes and a bag full of devils.” Or this description of a storm: “Thunder rolled, and stitch by stitch, he could feel the sky unravel.” Cheng’s invigorating language makes every sentence thrilling.