ABOUT THE BOOK
Shifting between the past and present, the narrator recalls her childhood as a piano prodigy and daughter of Chinese immigrants while attempting to make sense of her present life as the newest employee of Holistik—a high-end wellness store in New York City known for its remarkable, ethically-sourced products and extravagant procedures. She begins working at the mysterious store to pay for her parents’ care after an accident leaves them debilitated, but it soon becomes clear that there is more to Holistik, and its exceptionally attractive employees, than meets the eye.
As she falls deeper into the world of Holistik, learning of increasingly absurd treatments—remoras that suck out cheap Botox, eyelash extensions made of spider silk, emotional support ducklings bred to imprint on their owners—she also becomes close with Helen, the stunning niece of the store’s owner. Their relationship blossoms in surprising ways, as they both ingest and absorb all manner of beautifying products. Day by day, the narrator grows both more suspicious of and entrenched in the world of Holistik.
INTERVIEW TOPICS FOR LING LING HUANG’S NATURAL BEAUTY
· How Ling Ling’s time working in a high-end NYC wellness store inspired the narrative
· America’s obsession with Eurocentric beauty standards, and the fear that the beauty industry relies on
· How the privileged often use methodologies that certain cultures use to survive as trends (or why appropriation is problematic)
· Writing women’s bodies as sites of horror, surveillance, and intrusion
· The importance of family and heritage, especially in relation to assimilation
· The joys and challenges of shifting from one art form (music) to another (writing)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ling Ling Huang is a writer and violinist. She plays with several ensembles including the Music Kitchen, Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, Shattered Glass, and Experiential Orchestra, with whom she won a Grammy award in 2021. Natural Beauty is her first novel.
linglinghuang.com / Instagram: @violingsquared