Nice things people have said

National bestseller
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

“Quietly wrenching. . . To say that this book is about grief or coming-of-age doesn't quite do it justice; nor is it mainly about being Asian American, even though there are glimmers of that too. . . This is a memoir that gathers power through accretion - all those moments and gestures that constitute experience, the bits and pieces that coalesce into a life. . . Hsu is a subtle writer, not a showy one; the joy of Stay True sneaks up on you, and the wry jokes are threaded seamlessly throughout.” Jen Szalai, New York Times

“Luminous and tender-hearted. . . A tale of joy and grief in the time of Nirvana and AOL chat rooms. . . Lyrical. . . Stay True is a nuanced and beautiful evocation of young adulthood in all its sloppy, exuberant glory. . . [A] wrenching and richly detailed tribute to a friend and to the enduring legacy of a foreshortened life.” Marc Weingarten, Wall Street Journal

“an affecting, pitch-perfect memoir...” Oprah Daily

“Moving. . . Far more than a straightforward posthumous tribute.”
Claire Messud, Harper’s

“Hsu delicately captures the urgency and intimacy of adolescent friendships. Through his prose you are pulled back to your own coming-of-age years.” Elizabeth Lothian, Brooklyn Rail

“Moving. . . Wondrous. . . [Hsu is] an exceptional writer. . . One of his philosopher heroes, Jacques Derrida, was resistant to eulogy, Hsu notes, because ‘[i]t’s always about “me” rather than “we.”’ If the author needed all these years to find a way to avoid that hazard, it was worth the wait. . . This book is a paean to the Bay Area in the 1990s, and to the uncertainties of anyone who is just trying to fit in. It's also, in its own quiet way, an act of kindness.” James Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle

“I’ve never read so perfect a description of collegiate friendship as the scenes in Stay True in which Hsu recalls the long days and nights spent with his friends. . . [Stay True] is about grief [but also] it is an exploration of what friendship means, and how it can mean different things from relationship to relationship.” Dan Kois, Slate

“[a] steady, searching memoir. . . Lovely, low-key. . . A moving portrait of a persona undone by tragedy.” Taylor Antrim, Vogue

“Elevates the entire [memoir] genre with a kind of athletic ease. . . I'm always obsessed with how tightly engineered Hsu's writing is-as elegant and seamless as the rivets of a submarine-and it's nothing short of delightful to see his prose deployed in such a personal investigation on the pains of being pure at heart.” Delia Cai, Vanity Fair
 “[Hsu writes] with devastating emotional precision, questioning the possibility of meaning in tragedy and the value of the stories we tell while attempting to find it. [Stay True] is a thoughtful, affecting book. . . For all the soul-searching, therapeutic work and years of rumination imprinted on Stay True, it’s the ache of a friendship lost but honored that will linger for readers. Though Hsu claims, self-deprecatingly, that the term ‘good friend … only occasionally applies to me,’ the lasting effect of Stay True is that of an extraordinary, devotional act of friendship.” Charles Arrowsmith, Washington Post

“...a crucial addition to the music-critical memoir tradition.” Jenn Pelly, Pitchfork

“Grief and guilt shadow even the sunniest parts of Stay True. Still, Hsu decides he can do something. For years, he’s been saving this up. It’s time to offer the world a loving, finely observed portrait of Ken and of their contingent, gentle, tragic friendship...” David O’Neill, 4Columns

“I devoured Hua Hsu’s Stay True in one sitting...” Gabe Meline, KQED

“An homage to a dear friend, Stay True is a tremendous memoir about holding family close as life pulls its shared spaces apart.” José Vadi, Alta

“Deep feelings coursed through me as I read Hua Hsu’s story: Grief, nostalgia, pity, terror, mercy…Stay True is a crucial, sense-making, healing book.”
Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Woman Warrior

“I was softly heartbroken by Stay True, which is an elegy not just for a friend but for so much else that feels lost and irreplaceable—a time of tender idleness and unmediated presence, a way that it was once possible to be young. The things that make Hua Hsu’s writing so singular—his searching grace, his rigorous sensitivity, his ability to make a living world out of the seemingly liminal—crystallize in this once-in-a-lifetime book.”
Jia Tolentino, New York Times bestselling author of Trick Mirror

“Hua Hsu offers, with seeming effortless grace and lucidity. . .a map to his soul’s becoming. He shows how he constructed an armor against the injustices of the world, one made only of porousness and transparency, the only armor worth donning. This kind and degree of sharing is a rare gift.”
Jonathan Lethem, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Motherless Brooklyn

Stay True feels like one of those books that is the sum total of a writer’s life in thinking, craft, and curiosity, made felt at last, so that when the sentences come, they come with a deliberate, patient, and precise force. Hsu takes on the central theme of a friend’s violent loss and casts from that void a story that, somehow, despite the hurt and confusion, embraces the world around it with a steady and capacious centrifugal force. This is the endeavor of writing at its most open, meticulous, forgiving and tender—which is to say, this is writing at its best.”
Ocean Vuong, New York Times bestselling author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

I was a storyteller with a plot twist guaranteed to astound and destroy, Hua Hsu says of himself, in a tone that is slightly ironic. And yet what he has achieved in Stay True is exactly that: to astound and destroy his reader. This book is exquisite and excruciating and I will be thinking about it for years and years to come.”
Rachel Kushner, two-time National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room

“In this elegant, open-hearted elegy for his fallen friend, Hsu does the labor of love, of taking time to recall and make record of the quotidian detail of another man’s life. In this way, he reveals for us all how aesthetics are products of both relationships and of terrible loss. The river of this memoir is quiet and deep, unassuming, it enters the reader and changes us with its capacity for connection.”
Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show

“Hua Hsu’s Stay True is a rich, intelligent, and beautifully crafted portrait of just about everything that matters in life. Here is friendship, art, and family cast against a distinctly American backdrop of migration in language so precise and subtle that you might not even notice how it breaks and mends your heart.”
Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names

“In crafting Stay True, Hua Hsu has opted to trust the consequential size of memories shared with Ken over what we readers feel we are owed. The result is one of the finest memoirs I’ve ever read.”
Kiese Laymon, New York Times bestselling author of Heavy

New Yorker staff writer Hsu braids music, art, and philosophy in his extraordinary debut. . .Hsu parses the grief of losing his friend and eloquently captures the power of friendship and unanswerable questions spurred in the wake of senseless violence. The result is at once a lucid snapshot of life in the nineties, an incredible story of reckoning, and a moving elegy to a fallen friend.”
Publishers Weekly *starred review*

“Masterfully structured and exquisitely written. Hsu’s voice shimmers with tenderness and vulnerability as he meticulously reconstructs his memories of a nurturing, compassionate friendship. The protagonists’ Asian American identities are nuanced, never serving as the defining element of the story, and the author creates a cast of gorgeously balanced characters. A stunning, intricate memoir about friendship, grief, and memory.”
Kirkus Reviews *starred review*

“In every luminously rereadable, every-way-wending sentence, [Hsu’s] writing astonishes. On the shaky formation of the self, it is unself-conscious; on the incredible youthful desire to make oneself known, it is knowing. Exploring identity, authenticity, and nostalgia as concepts and as feelings, this is an absolute stunner.”
—Booklist *starred review*

“One of the finest and most heart-rending remembrances I’ve ever read. Hsu writes about grief and nostalgia, youth and identity, family and friendship, with elegant, heartbreaking clarity. I wanted to linger over every memory, to stay with Hsu as he rendered the vast expanses of time that defined youth—car rides, browsing at record stores, collaging together an identity from loves and hates. This is a book of exquisite pain and beauty. Absolutely unmissable.”
Literary Hub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2022”

“The brilliant New Yorker staff writer. . .describes a formative friendship he had as a young man in the Bay Area—a friendship formed around what the two young men had in common and what they didn’t.”
The Millions, “Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2022 Book Preview”

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