Fiction. Literary Nonfiction. Cross-Genre. Art. Asian American Studies. Tan Lin's INSOMNIA AND THE AUNT is an ambient novel composed of black and white photographs, postcards, Google reverse searches, letters, appendices, an index to an imaginary novel, reruns, and footnotes. The aunt in question can't sleep. She runs a motel in the Pacific Northwest. She likes watching Conan O'Brien late at night. She may be the narrator's aunt or she may be an emanation of a TV set. Structured like everybody's scrapbook, and blending fiction with nonfictional events, INSOMNIA AND THE AUNT is about identities taken and given up, and about the passions of an immigrant life, rebroadcast as furniture. Ostensibly about a young man's disintegrating memory of his most fascinating relative, or potentially a conceptualist take on immigrant literature, it is probably just a treatment for a prime-time event that, because no one sleeps in motels, lasts into the late night and daytime slots.
Insomnia and the Aunt