Counterfeit (William Morrow)
For fans of Hustlers and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, the story of two Asian American women who band together to grow a counterfeit handbag scheme into a global enterprise—an incisive and glittering blend of fashion, crime, and friendship from the author of Bury What We Cannot Take and Soy Sauce for Beginners.
Money can’t buy happiness… but it can buy a decent fake.
Ava Wong has always played it safe. As a strait-laced, rule-abiding Chinese American lawyer with a successful surgeon as a husband, a young son, and a beautiful home—she’s built the perfect life. But beneath this façade, Ava’s world is crumbling: her marriage is falling apart, her expensive law degree hasn’t been used in years, and her toddler’s tantrums are pushing her to the breaking point.
Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s enigmatic college roommate from Mainland China, who abruptly dropped out under mysterious circumstances. Now, twenty years later, Winnie is looking to reconnect with her old friend. But the shy, awkward girl Ava once knew has been replaced with a confident woman of the world, dripping in luxury goods, including a coveted Birkin in classic orange. The secret to her success? Winnie has developed an ingenious counterfeit scheme that involves importing near-exact replicas of luxury handbags and now she needs someone with a U.S. passport to help manage her business—someone who’d never be suspected of wrongdoing, someone like Ava. But when their spectacular success is threatened and Winnie vanishes once again, Ava is left to face the consequences.
Swift, surprising, and sharply comic, Counterfeit is a stylish and feminist caper with a strong point of view and an axe to grind. Peering behind the curtain of the upscale designer storefronts and the Chinese factories where luxury goods are produced, Kirstin Chen interrogates the myth of the model minority through two unforgettable women determined to demand more from life.
Kirstin Chen is the author of Soy Sauce for Beginners and Bury What We Cannot Take. She has received fellowships and awards from the Steinbeck Fellows Program, Sewanee, Hedgebrook, Djerassi, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Toji Cultural Foundation, and the National Arts Council of Singapore. She teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco and in Ashland University’s Low-Residency MFA Program. Born and raised in Singapore, she currently lives in San Francisco.
Jean Chen Ho is a doctoral candidate in creative writing and literature at the University of Southern California, where she is a Dornsife Fellow in fiction. She has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and her writing has been published in The Georgia Review, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Guernica, The Rumpus, Apogee, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and others. She was born in Taiwan, grew up in Southern California, and lives in Los Angeles.
Praise for Counterfeit -
“Propulsive and captivating . . . A provocative story of fashion, friendship, and fakes (in more ways than one), with characters that both subvert and capitalize on the model-minority myth. No surprise that the sly feminist caper was the subject of a fierce eight-way bidding war for TV rights.” — Vogue, The Best Books of 2022
"Two Asian-American women turn a fake handbag scheme into a global enterprise. Need we say more?" — Parade, Our Favorite Books of Spring
“Counterfeit is decadent and delicious. The sparkling storyline seduces with its compelling twists and turns even as Kirstin Chen deftly interrogates issues of race, identity, wealth and consumerism. A true delight for mind and heart from beginning to end.” — Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Searching for Sylvie Lee
"Sly and thoroughly compelling, Kirstin Chen's Counterfeit illuminates the world of fake designer handbags, as ruthless adventuress Winnie and her upstanding former college roommate Ava build an illicit business out of bravado and lies. Nothing is as it seems, and Chen's ingenious plot will keep you breathless to the last page." — Claire Messud, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning Girl
"Kirstin Chen keeps readers on the edge of their seats as she weaves an addictive tale about the high/low world of counterfeit luxury handbags, spanning San Francisco to Guangzhou. A glittering, provocative read." — Janice Y. K. Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Expatriates
"Longstanding friendship, fake luxury, and elaborate theft . . . and from a writer whose previous novels have been utterly captivating—yes, please.” — Electric Literature, 62 Books By Women of Color to Read in 2022
“[Chen] comes up with a winner in this clever, sharp, and slyly funny novel about a long con. . . . A delightfully different caper novel with a Gone Girl–style plot twist.” — Kirkus
“Chen spins a clever tale offering two sides of a story involving a complicated friendship and knockoff handbags . . . The story is further deepened by the author’s sharp, convincing details of the fashion industry and its shadow market, which lends this tale of fakes the tang of authenticity. Readers will be left guessing at the truth until the last page.” — Publishers Weekly
“Counterfeit is a riveting and energetic novel about a world that so many of us encounter but rarely understand beyond the surface. Chen deftly guides readers through the exploits of old friends Ava and Winnie while also exploring the intricacies of friendship, class, culture, and survival.” — Balli Kaur Jaswal, acclaimed author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
“Counterfeit is as stylish and smart as its mastermind heroines. Kirstin Chen writes, with humor and verve, prose that's as addictive as a luxury handbag habit, and psychologically rich characters, too. Come for the con, stay for the insights into identity and self discovery, and the ever-elusive American dream.” — Rachel Khong, award-winning author of Goodbye, Vitamin
“Bury What We Cannot Take explores what it takes to survive in a world gone mad—and what is lost when we do. Kirstin Chen has written both an engrossing historical drama and a nuanced exploration of how far the bonds of familial love can stretch.” — Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere, on Bury What We Cannot Take
"Kirstin Chen’s debut is a delicious page-turning treat. Chen captures the zeitgeist of Singapore’s new generation in an engrossing, intimately layered tale of love, family, and the discovery of one’s true calling. It will also turn every reader into an artisanal soy sauce aficionado willing to settle for nothing but the best.” — Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians, on Soy Sauce for Beginners