Jennifer Tseng

Congratulations to Asian American Studies alumnus Jennifer Tseng on her new novel, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness.

Forty-one years old, disenchanted wife and dutiful mother, Mayumi is a librarian on an island off the coast of New England. Her most erotic pleasure is in reading. That is, until the day she issues a library card to a shy seventeen-year-old boy who captivates her in a way that no one else ever has. She is hesitant at first, conscious of their age difference, the power differential, and the questionable morality (and legality) of acting on her feelings. But her attraction soon turns to obsession, and after a season of overlong glances and nervous conversation in the library, Mayumi quietly propositions the boy, who reciprocates. They quietly begin a passionate affair that changes the way Mayumi sees her entire life—and herself.

Exquisitely written and compulsively readable, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness is equal parts wry confession and serious meditation. At its most anxious it’s a book about time; at its most ecstatic it’s a deeply human story about passion and pleasure, book love and physical infatuation.


Jennifer’s first book The Man With My Face won the 2005 Asian American Writers’ Workshop National Poetry Manuscript Competition and a 2006 PEN American Center Open Book Award. Her second book Red Flower, White Flower, winner of the Marick Press Poetry Prize, features Chinese translations by Mengying Han and Aaron Crippen. Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness is her debut novel. She is the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts, Lowell