1. What is the book?
2. Who wrote it?
3. What is it about?
Siren Queen tells the story of a fictitious star of the silver screen, Luli Wei, and the sacrifices she
makes in her determination to make a name for herself outside the confines of racial and gendered
tropes that were the studios’ bread and butter. It lifts the curtain on the entertainment industry in a
creative way, blurring the lines between reality and make-believe in the process, and it reads like a
historical novel of early to mid-twentieth century Hollywood, a modern fable seasoned liberally
with magical realism.
4. Why did I read it?
I picked up Vo’s book because I wanted to try something new. I’ve read fantasies and I’ve read
historical fiction, but the blending of the two genres is something I haven’t experienced before.
5. What do I think?
The most fascinating aspect of Siren Queen is that, as the layers of veneer and polish that create
Tinsel Town’s luster and allure are peeled back to reveal the sinister dangers that propel its success,
the mythical creatures posing as producers, directors, and actors help ground it in reality. It isn’t a
far stretch to see a Harvey Weinstein inspiring Oberlin Wolfe, and the price for fame may not be
one’s soul, but it does cost those who strive for it dearly.
While it is the story of a fictitious movie star in the making, the novel does speak to the difficulties
actors of color had in finding roles that were not one-dimensional or rife with offensive and
oftentimes dehumanizing characteristics. In this way, it can be read as a companion piece to
Charles Yu’s National Book Award-winning novel, Interior Chinatown. Vo also sheds light on similar
issues women actors faced, and what sovereignty and self-preservation cost those who pursued it.
In her mostly successful attempts at weaving reality into the fantastical there are times when Vo
leans too heavily on rote characterizations of mythical tropes. Overall, Siren Queen offers a
refreshing take from an insider’s perspective of the celluloid machine.
You can place a hold on your copy of the book by clicking on the cover below:
Hello! My name is Tom, and I am a librarian here at the Niagara Falls Public Library. Welcome to a recurring blog post that comes out the 5th of every month, where I answer five questions about a book in our collection.