Delayed Rays of a Star
A dazzling novel following the lives of three groundbreaking women--Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl--cinema legends who lit up the twentieth centuryAt a chance encounter at a Berlin soirée in 1928, the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captures three very different women together in one frame: up-and-coming German actress Marlene Dietrich, who would wend her way into Hollywood as one of its lasting icons; Anna May Wong, the world's first Chinese American star, playing for bit parts while dreaming of breaking away from her father's modest laundry; and Leni Riefenstahl, whose work as a director would first make her famous--then, infamous.From this curious point of intersection, Delayed Rays of a Star lets loose the trajectories of these women's lives. From Weimar Berlin to LA's Chinatown, from a seaside resort in East Germany to a luxury apartment on the Champs-Élysées, the different settings they inhabit are as richly textured as the roles they play: siren, muse, predator, or lover, each one a carefully calibrated performance. And in the orbit of each star live secondary players--a Chinese immigrant housemaid, a German soldier on leave from North Africa, a pompous Hollywood director--whose voices and viewpoints reveal the legacy each woman left in her own time, as well as in ours. Amanda Lee Koe's playful, wry prose guides the reader dexterously around murky questions of ego, persona, complicity, desire, and difference. Intimate and raw, Delayed Rays of a Star is a visceral depiction of womanhood--its particular hungers, its calculations, and its eventual betrayals--and announces a bold new literary voice.

Delayed Rays of a Star Details

TitleDelayed Rays of a Star
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 9th, 2019
PublisherNan A. Talese
ISBN-139780385544344
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Delayed Rays of a Star Review

  • Martie Nees Record
    January 1, 1970
    Genre: Historical FictionPublisher: Doubleday BooksPublication Date: July 9, 2019Spanning the 1920s to 2003, this sprawling novel is expertly woven with characters that are powerfully alive. Koe’s novel was inspired by a 1928 photograph taken in Berlin of then up and coming real-life actresses, Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl, at a party in Berlin. For those who don't know these film icons, Marlene Dietrich was a gender-bending German actress who was one of the highest-paid Genre: Historical FictionPublisher: Doubleday BooksPublication Date: July 9, 2019Spanning the 1920s to 2003, this sprawling novel is expertly woven with characters that are powerfully alive. Koe’s novel was inspired by a 1928 photograph taken in Berlin of then up and coming real-life actresses, Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl, at a party in Berlin. For those who don't know these film icons, Marlene Dietrich was a gender-bending German actress who was one of the highest-paid Hollywood stars in her day. Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American actress to achieve international acclaim. Leni Riefenstahl was an actress turned director of Nazi propaganda films as well as nonpolitical films.There are two moving secondary characters in the novel. There is a Chinese maid who was a onetime sex-trafficked prostitute. She now takes care of an old and difficult reclusive woman who happens to be Marlene Dietrich. And there is a gay German soldier who had worked in films before the war. He was recruited off the battlefield to be a film crew member with Riefenstahl. He is mourning the lover he watched die in battle. Through his character, one gets glimpses of the average young German soldier’s thoughts during the war. Not at all different than from those they were fighting. “Please God let me live through this war…Why am I crawling in the mud when the bigwigs that started the war are safely sitting at home?” Both characters are written in a way that will break your heart without being saccharine.The ambiguous novel takes on many subjects:There is sexuality. Marlene Dietrich’s public image included openly defying sexual norms. She was known for her androgynous dressing fashion sense. Dietrich was the Hollywood legend who made being queer acceptable, even downright sexy. Men and women both drooled over her and she famously bedded both. How she got away with this in that period of time is quite a feat. Perhaps it was her narcissist personality traits that helped her pull it off. Still, while America adored her, Germany was angry and disowned her. Marlene remained Marlene until the end of her life. The author writes a scene of her maid holding her nose while cleaning an antique Limoges pitcher the 88-year-old uses as a bedpan. In her famous throaty voice, she hollers at the maid, "Everyone should be glad I can still pee." For her funeral, she requested that red and white carnations be distributed to those who attended. A red carnation would be handed to those who slept with Dietrich and a white one to those who didn’t. She fantasized fistfights over ‘You slept with her and I didn’t!’ These laugh out loud moments are written to perfection. (This reviewer googled an interview with Marlene’s daughter and learned that this was indeed her mother’s funeral wish. Her mom would have been very disappointed if she knew it wasn’t carried out).There is racism. Despite being born in California, and the daughter of parents who were themselves born here, Wong was only offered bad/evil woman Chinese character roles. She was never a lead character. The Chinese were as furious with her as the Germans were of Dietrich. A moving scene in the book happens when she is in China for a publicity tour. Wong is criticized by a film critic for taking stereotypical roles. She tries to explain that as a non-white in America life can be hard. She fiercely fought for different roles. She desperately wanted the lead role in the film “The Good Earth.” The movie takes place in turn-of-the-century China. She thought she had it. She was deep into preparation, giving ideas and costume suggestions when she received a phone call informing her that the role went to a white actress. The reason: She was too Chinese.There is sexism. Leni Riefenstahl was an accomplished filmmaker, one of the first of female filmmakers of her generation. Still, she is easy not to like. She received financial support from Hitler but, after the fall of the Nazi regime, claimed no knowledge of the Holocaust. Koe paints her as willfully unknowing. Leni is written in a way that one can ‘almost’ understand where she is coming from. Since she was a woman, no one was willing to take her seriously as a director and back her films. She took money where she could and concentrated on her art. Like Anna May, she was forced to take whatever she got in order to perform. In 1993 there was a documentary made about her, “The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl.” Maybe, this is why she is the only one of the three who gets an entire section in her own voice.Koe’s debut novel shows that she is a master storyteller. Clearly, her talent comes from being a fellow of the International Writing Program of Iowa and a fiction editor of Esquire Singapore as well as the editor of the National Museum of Singapore’s film journal. “Delayed” will appeal to a wide variety of readers: Fans of historical fiction centering on women, film buffs, gossipy stories, and those who enjoy WWII political novels that feel like nonfiction–in other words, for fans of all genres.Find all my book reviews at:https://www.goodreads.com/review/list...https://books6259.wordpress.com/https://www.barnesandnoble.com/review...https://www.facebook.com/martie.neesr...https://www.instagram.com/martie6947/https://www.pinterest.com/martienreco...\https://www.amazon.com/https://twitter.com/NeesRecord
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  • Xueting
    January 1, 1970
    Five stars for the impressive execution of this ambitious, epic novel and for the excellent, beautiful writing. But I docked a star based on my personal reading experience - it's quite a heavy and dense read, such that sometimes I had trouble getting back into the story after putting it down for a while. I also don't really like stories that remove quotation marks from the dialogue because it can get hard to differentiate dialogue from normal narration, and I just don't get the purpose. Is it ju Five stars for the impressive execution of this ambitious, epic novel and for the excellent, beautiful writing. But I docked a star based on my personal reading experience - it's quite a heavy and dense read, such that sometimes I had trouble getting back into the story after putting it down for a while. I also don't really like stories that remove quotation marks from the dialogue because it can get hard to differentiate dialogue from normal narration, and I just don't get the purpose. Is it just a fancy and quirky stylistic choice?The novel opens in the 1920s, at a party in Berlin where three actresses Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl met for the first time and pose for a photograph together. Yup, the novel is a historical fiction with real-life famous people as its characters. There's even the two photographs of the three women taken at the party inserted into the book. The reader then follows the three women's lives in the subsequent decades, as they advance their acting (and also, for Leni, directing) careers against the chaotic rise and fall of the Nazi regime. The story is divided into three major segments which are individually split up into three mini-segments, each taking turns to focus on one of the women. Within each mini-segment are a number of chapters that really feel like short stories, because of the way they jump to whole new situations and often even a different character as the chapter's focus. There are lots of side characters, such as Marlene's Chinese maid and the lighting staff on Leni's film production team, and they are vividly developed too. I actually think some of the most memorable chapters come from the side characters.Anna May, Marlene and Leni turn into strong, memorable characters too. I knew pretty much nothing about all of them - I'll admit it, I'd never even heard of Marlene and Leni before this novel - so getting to know their lives and legacy was fascinating to me. I restrained myself from googling them so I can get to know them from this novel, but after finishing it I did google them and I'm intrigued to see how closely the novel follows their real lives. However, I was expecting more connections between the three of them and their stories, but only Anna May and Marlene were really in each other's lives after they met at the party. So it felt disjointed, reading the three women's chapters together. They shared a common socio-political context and themes about art, being a female artist and fame, but still I had to re-orientate myself a bit when I move between the mini-segments.Leni's chapters were also the heaviest, and the tone was quite different from Anna May's and Marlene's, although Anna May's chapters also dealt with racism in early 20th century America and the struggle to find home for the Asian American diaspora. Leni's chapters are very heavy because they go quite deep into the political climate of Nazi Germany, with Hitler and Joseph Goebbels both making appearances and even getting dialogue. Leni was also a controversial director of Nazi propaganda films, and this novel explores how aware and intentional she was in creating Nazi propaganda, raising questions about whether we can and should separate art from politics, and art from the artist. It's very bold of the author to tackle such controversial and complex issues in real history, approaching them from different perspectives, and she has the skill and is knowledgeable about them to do so with sensitivity. Even though the writing is a bit dense, I was very engaged in the story most of the time, and I really cared and felt for the characters.Amanda Lee Koe is definitely one of my favourite Singapore authors now, along with Balli Kaur Jaswal. I'd only ever read one of her short stories from her award-winning collection "Ministry of Moral Panic," but I could tell her writing is really good, and this, her first novel, shows it even more. She's so smart I'd feel intimidated if I ever meet her in real life!!
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  • Jessica T.
    January 1, 1970
    In 1928, a photograph was taken of Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich, and Leni Riefenstahl, at a party at Weimar, Berlin. Amanda Lee Koe uses this photograph as the basis for her debut novel Delayed Rays of a Star. In the novel we follow the lives of these three women over the course of the 20th century.. I have read Dietrich’s biography and Riefenstahl’s autobiography and never have I read a novel that uses real people so authentically. Each character... main to minor glows. It is a book about se In 1928, a photograph was taken of Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich, and Leni Riefenstahl, at a party at Weimar, Berlin. Amanda Lee Koe uses this photograph as the basis for her debut novel Delayed Rays of a Star. In the novel we follow the lives of these three women over the course of the 20th century.. I have read Dietrich’s biography and Riefenstahl’s autobiography and never have I read a novel that uses real people so authentically. Each character... main to minor glows. It is a book about sexism, art, racism, and consequences. “Our smallest actions lead to large outcomes, when we cannot yet know it.” Amanda Lee Koe is a master storyteller. This is her epic. “Everything became a fantastic joke if you could afford to hang around long enough for the punchline.” (Listening to the Smith’s strangeways, here we come in honor of my two favorite characters Ibrahim and Bébé..)From netgalley for an honest review...
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  • Maine Colonial
    January 1, 1970
    Amanda Lee Koe’s inspiration for this ambitious novel was a single photograph, taken by famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt at a party in Berlin in 1928. The picture is of filmmaker/actress Leni Riefenstahl, Hollywood actress Anna May Wong, and Marlene Dietrich. Koe takes us to this party and uses that as her jumping-off point for stories that read like memoirs from each woman’s point of view.To get into the head of each woman is fascinating. Anna May Wong, growing up in Los Angeles was enthra Amanda Lee Koe’s inspiration for this ambitious novel was a single photograph, taken by famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt at a party in Berlin in 1928. The picture is of filmmaker/actress Leni Riefenstahl, Hollywood actress Anna May Wong, and Marlene Dietrich. Koe takes us to this party and uses that as her jumping-off point for stories that read like memoirs from each woman’s point of view.To get into the head of each woman is fascinating. Anna May Wong, growing up in Los Angeles was enthralled with the movies. While she became a successful actress, Hollywood cast her in villain roles, while sympathetic Asian characters were played by Caucasians in whiteface. Wong had to deal with that as well as scathing reviews from critics in her parents’ native China.Dietrich’s story is focused two bookends of her life; her early days working with Josef von Sternberg and having an affair with Wong, and the last years of her life, when she was bedridden and reclusive in a Paris flat. (I don’t know if there’s any factual basis for the affair.) Dietrich is portrayed as a women who yearned for connection but couldn’t let down her barriers enough to form a real relationship with anyone.Riefenstahl is portrayed both in her filmmaking years in Germany’s Third Reich, and much later in life, looking back and defending herself against charges of collaboration with the Nazi regime. Koe does a terrific job getting inside the head of the ambitious and self-absorbed Riefenstahl, who has an excuse or justification for everything. She never has to admit her culpability—even to herself.Some of the most affecting scenes involve side characters whom Koe introduces into the story. There is the World War I veteran working as a gaffer on one of Riefenstahl’s who is haunted by his wartime memories and stricken by Riefenstahl’s use of Roma from a nearby Nazi concentration camp as film extras. Then there is Dietrich’s refugee Chinese house cleaner, Bébé, who develops a relationship with a young Turkish-German admirer of Dietrich’s.It’s hard to describe this novel. It has a certain dreamlike quality, but not because it feels like a dream. It’s more as if you have all the time in the world to sit with these women as they tell you the stories of their lives, and you know that because they are human there will be truth, lies, happiness, sadness, and the bittersweetness of memory.
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  • Cindy
    January 1, 1970
    When I first picked up this book I expected a light read; it is not! I also found this book a bit hard to get into; it felt a touch discombobulated at the beginning and I even though I lost a interest before the end I would still recommend it as the subject matter is well tackled and worth reading. One of the main characters is a fairly famous German during WWII and she disturbingly depicts the indifference to what was going on in the concentration camps and the evil of the Nazis. The book also When I first picked up this book I expected a light read; it is not! I also found this book a bit hard to get into; it felt a touch discombobulated at the beginning and I even though I lost a interest before the end I would still recommend it as the subject matter is well tackled and worth reading. One of the main characters is a fairly famous German during WWII and she disturbingly depicts the indifference to what was going on in the concentration camps and the evil of the Nazis. The book also does a nice job of tackling other meaningful topics - there is actually no tough subject left untouched! This would be a good book club read as there are so many topics that would solicit good conversation. The author has quite an imagination and successfully intermingles and then ties together the main characters of the book. As an aside, I give this author the reward for the most imaginative and strange chapter titles!Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an early release in exchange for an honest and fair review.
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  • Jacob Wren
    January 1, 1970
    I can't believe how much I loved this book.
  • Kit Lea
    January 1, 1970
    full fledged article-review to come for yale's brink review of books
  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    Delayed Rays of a Star presents the story of three actresses captured in one photo in Berlin, prior to WW2. Anna May Wong, a Chinese American actress in Europe looking for more prominent roles not available to her in Hollywood, Leni Riefenstahl, a German actress who would become Hilter's director of his propaganda films, and Marlene Dietrich, German actress and Hollywood legend.I was very excited to read this book; and the portrayals of the three women were fairly accurate, per the historical re Delayed Rays of a Star presents the story of three actresses captured in one photo in Berlin, prior to WW2. Anna May Wong, a Chinese American actress in Europe looking for more prominent roles not available to her in Hollywood, Leni Riefenstahl, a German actress who would become Hilter's director of his propaganda films, and Marlene Dietrich, German actress and Hollywood legend.I was very excited to read this book; and the portrayals of the three women were fairly accurate, per the historical record. Anna May, a Chinese-American, born in LA who was a breakthrough actress, but not "Chinese enough" for Hollywood standards. She returns to China, and realizes she also does not belong in China. Her story was an interesting look at immigrants trying to assimilate into American culture, and how cultural norms in her own country were violated. She donated much money to the Chinese war effort against the Japanese, but the Chinese people felt she violated her culture by succumbing to Hollywood stereotypes.Leni, a Hitler supporter who was considered a brilliant director. Her support of the Nazi Party (which she subsequently denied until her death) led to her being shunned from theater work for the remainder of her life. One section, in which she gives an interview, the reader can see how she continued to rewrite her life's narrative, to make her seem less horrific than the crimes she is accused of. Marlene.... What can one say of the icon. Her support of the Allies during WW2 led to a sense of betrayal and animosity on the part of her native Germans. She was forward, brash, but one has to admire a woman who stood by her convictions and never apologized for her actions.The 2 star rating comes from the spin off stories, which I think the author was trying to correlate back to the historical account. The book jumped not only from person to person but from past to present and was often difficult to follow. There were also some words that were not edited properly and some paragraph phrasing I felt didn't flow properly, making the book a bit difficult to read.The horrors of the Holocaust, the general complacence of the average German, is perhaps the most horrific part of modern history. I struggled to draw the correlation I feel the author was trying to make. I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway and would like to thank Doubleday for the advanced copy.
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  • Chitra Ahanthem
    January 1, 1970
    This is historical fiction at its best with a real life photo of the enigmatic star Marlene Dietrich, the exotic Anna May Wong and an almost haughty Leni Riefenstahl taken at a party in Berlin in 1928 being the opening. The book follows the three pioneering divas: Marlene, a star who refused to be boxed in any category in terms of her sexual choices or her professional career choices; Anna Wong who is expected to play just two stereotypical Chinese tropes (the evil woman and the sacrificing Chin This is historical fiction at its best with a real life photo of the enigmatic star Marlene Dietrich, the exotic Anna May Wong and an almost haughty Leni Riefenstahl taken at a party in Berlin in 1928 being the opening. The book follows the three pioneering divas: Marlene, a star who refused to be boxed in any category in terms of her sexual choices or her professional career choices; Anna Wong who is expected to play just two stereotypical Chinese tropes (the evil woman and the sacrificing Chinese woman) in Hollywood films and film director Leni Riefenstahl whose technical expertise in film making was overshadowed by her association and public praise of Hitler. This is an ode to the craft of film making: its creative beauty and the struggles it entails, the politics and the star system, the stereotypes that cinema enforces and maintains, creative partnerships and studio decisions, the disdain and dispensability of actors after a certain age- all of this juxtaposed in the backdrop of the politically fraught era of the prelude to the rise of Hitler, the Second World War, the racial segregations that played out on screen where actors belonging to different races could not be portrayed having romantic or intimate relations.I totally loved the way the narrative went back and forth in time and brought in fictional characters integral to the politics of the book: a maid and housekeeper who looks after Dietrich, someone who is a victim of sex trafficking and who gets refugee status later but who continues to face racial discrimination and token charity job hand outs and the man who comes into her life. I would say, read this if you love historical fiction. Read it if you love films. Read it for the strong women who take life on the shins. Brilliant!
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  • Karolina
    January 1, 1970
    I've hesitated for a long time - should I give it four stars? three? Let's assume it's 3.5.I really like Amanda's writing, although I feel that the best parts were fictional. I get the idea behind the book, but the three main characters just started to tire me down after about 200 pages. Usually I'm all up for experiments, jumping through time and mixing up threads, but somehow the result in "Delayed Rays of Star" seemed really chaotic at times. I was really tired with the book at the end.
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  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early July.Oh, I’ve been waiting for this one for sure: second-person narration of Marlene Dietrich, Leni Riefenstahl, and (my dear one, my tattoo) Anna May Wong with in-depth writing that gets to the core of each of the women’s inner self to find what they hide and covet from the rest of the world as they age. Marlene as unabashedly confrontational, aging ungracefully, and vilified by Germany with her siding with Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early July.Oh, I’ve been waiting for this one for sure: second-person narration of Marlene Dietrich, Leni Riefenstahl, and (my dear one, my tattoo) Anna May Wong with in-depth writing that gets to the core of each of the women’s inner self to find what they hide and covet from the rest of the world as they age. Marlene as unabashedly confrontational, aging ungracefully, and vilified by Germany with her siding with the Allies and the USO in WWII; Leni as quite stuck-up, directing and acting in mountain movies and Nazi propaganda films to both spread the message of the Reich, but also to stay safely away from the cities below, in the defense of her actions toward the press in her older age, and seeing herself as alternately the victim and the aggressor, demure and bold; and Anna May marveling and envying Marlene’s open, witty personality, but also concerned at her own desire for her, being aware that, in a film made in the US, she can never be in a lead role alongside a white male co-star, and visiting Vegas in 1960s to see Marlene at the Riviera.
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  • Ruby
    January 1, 1970
    this is a modern masterpiece. pls run, not walk, to get your copy. it is about three film icons (dietrich, wong, and liefenstahl) but I think the true gems in this book are the unknown stories of the “supporting cast” whose lives are marked by the three stars. the prose is dense but never clunky. This is an intricate and intelligent novel, definitely the best one I’ve read this year.
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  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    I couldn’t put this book down despite not usually being a fan of historical fiction. I didn’t have much previous knowledge about the historical figures in this story except for Anna May Wong, but I was intrigued by all of their narratives. And I was pleasantly surprised when I realized the story follows a thread of queer women and relationships (and the author is queer as well).
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  • Katherine Ouellette
    January 1, 1970
    The scene is Berlin, 1928. Three up-and-coming movie stars attend a glamorous industry soirée: Marlene Dietrich, a silent film actress who will denounce her German citizenship and side with the Allies; Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American actress to appear on the silver screen; and Leni Riefenstahl, a German actress who will become the first woman director, and later, the director of Nazi propaganda films. The photograph taken that night served as the catalyst for this novel. Although Delay The scene is Berlin, 1928. Three up-and-coming movie stars attend a glamorous industry soirée: Marlene Dietrich, a silent film actress who will denounce her German citizenship and side with the Allies; Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American actress to appear on the silver screen; and Leni Riefenstahl, a German actress who will become the first woman director, and later, the director of Nazi propaganda films. The photograph taken that night served as the catalyst for this novel. Although Delayed Rays of a Star is a work of fiction, its protagonists are real figures from history. Author Amanda Lee Koe imagines these women's lives beyond what can be proved as biographical facts, but makes for enticing contemplation. This book straddles across 80 years, 4 countries, half a dozen points of view, and the line between fiction and nonfiction. To call this novel “ambitious” is putting it lightly. Admittedly, it takes a few chapters for the pacing to gain its bearings. The opening chapter establishes the points of view of Marlene, Anna May, and Leni, but it pivots too quickly to an eighty-something-year-old Marlene and a disproportionate perspective of her maid, Bébé. However, readers need not worry that the additional perspectives—of Bébé, a Jewish writer friend of Anna May’s, an Afrika Korps member turned best boy on Leni’s movie set, and more—might distract from the stories of the larger-than-life personalities. The collected points of view flesh out each setting with grounding details about the sociopolitical climate that might not have been achieved by stepping into the shoes of a movie star alone.What’s most satisfying about this novel is how Koe fills in the gaps of history where biographies can only speculate. She’s not shy about imagining how Marlene might have seduced Anna May, and how both their personal and professional relationships would evolve as they worked on the set of Shanghai Express together. From the very beginning, Koe contrasts Marlene’s overt bisexuality and Anna May’s coy flirtations with Leni’s conservatism. (Leni makes her contempt for crossdressing men evident in the first scene.) They’re all complicated women with outer charm and inner turmoil, but Koe paints sympathetic portraits of Marlene and Anna May while she carefully avoids an antihero portrayal of Leni. While Marlene is able to launch her Hollywood career despite the rumors of her less than discreet affairs with both men and women, Hollywood is not as kind to Anna May because of its prevalent racism. The Motion Picture Production Code and miscegenation laws prevent Anna May from kissing a white costar, which means she’s effectively shut out from leading lady roles. Anna May, a second generation American, is forced into bit parts that birthed the “dragon lady” stereotype in Hollywood. When she realizes that her characters are always crude villains who usually die, she sticks up for herself in public interviews, but villains of color and untimely deaths for characters of color are tropes that media still struggles with in modern day.More unnerving are the parallels of burgeoning Nazism to American politics today. Is a far-right leader cause for concern? Nothing to be done now, since he was elected by democratic vote. Person of a certain ethnicity being stopped at the border? "We are just following protocol, and you do not possess the required paperwork. We reserve the right to refuse entry." In this book, Leni prolongs the shooting of her movie Tiefland so she can ignore the war and keep her crew safe in the mountains for as long as she can. At the same time, she receives her funding from the Ministry of Propaganda and has a personal connection to Hitler himself. Koe portrays the self-delusion of a woman who thinks she’s kind person just doing what needs to be done to protect her own way of life. But when push comes to shove, she sends the Roma and Sinti extras back to the concentration camp where she had plucked them from. The different plotlines feel discordant at first, but Koe blends them together masterfully as the novel progresses. Ultimately, the overarching theme of Delayed Rays of a Star can be boiled down to the line, “Why are we only able to aestheticize or abhor difference?”
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks @definitely.books for sending Delayed Rays of A Star, Amanda Lee Koe’s first novel! 🌟 The book follows 3 real, legendary film icons Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl. NPR sums up, “Wong was the first Chinese American actress to achieve international acclaim, Dietrich ... a bisexual, gender-bending German actress... one of the highest-paid Hollywood stars in her day, Riefenstahl was an actress and director of, among others, the infamous Nazi propaganda film Triumph of th Thanks @definitely.books for sending Delayed Rays of A Star, Amanda Lee Koe’s first novel! 🌟 The book follows 3 real, legendary film icons Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl. NPR sums up, “Wong was the first Chinese American actress to achieve international acclaim, Dietrich ... a bisexual, gender-bending German actress... one of the highest-paid Hollywood stars in her day, Riefenstahl was an actress and director of, among others, the infamous Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will. All 3 women were pioneering in their work and ... harmed by the times and systems she lived within. It is the moral tightropes each woman walks, and the razor thin edge between fulfilling one's ambition and selling one's soul, that is at the core of the novel.” I had mixed feelings but enjoyed her descriptions: “His ass cleft was the color of unhulled beansprouts.”“Today Madame’s stool was shaped just like a petit-croissant.”“I’m almost 30, these pups aren’t going to stand at attention forever. With that she weighed her left breast in her right palm, like a savvy hausfrau sizing up sweet oranges at a fruit stall. Anyway, she went on in a loud voice, why must a woman always have beautiful breasts?”The book reads like a Russian novel. Long, dramatic, dense, multi-charactered, descriptive. Artsy, bold, grandiose, cosmopolitan. Koe is a walking almanac w/ a brilliant mind. I did find the book long-winded and I’m not into historical fiction/old films (the writer also needs to be disabused of the use of the word cigarette) and I think there needs to be CW in place for sexual assault, strong language. There were many characters and scene changes so it was hard to keep track/care about the characters. While Koe has a sophisticated, gargantuan vocabulary (it’s nice to re-visit words; konditorei, erudite, tremulous, cockamamy), I found it hard to access at times, e.g. Chinese lines, obscure film references. Still, it is well researched, meticulously written.Koe reminds me of Kevin Kwan, Thomas Mann, Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Would recommend this if you’re in the film industry, a historical fiction fan, or simply enjoy long novels/classics! 📚
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  • Lynda
    January 1, 1970
    At first look, a chance meeting of three strong women with different life experiences, captured in a photograph together may seem to be nothing extraordinary. However, this moment was the beginning of an entanglement of challenges, disappointments and enlightenment for Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl. The novel, “delaying rays of the stars” was focused on variety, not just of the women but also in the varying lengths and pacing of its twenty-two chapters. A historical and bi At first look, a chance meeting of three strong women with different life experiences, captured in a photograph together may seem to be nothing extraordinary. However, this moment was the beginning of an entanglement of challenges, disappointments and enlightenment for Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl. The novel, “delaying rays of the stars” was focused on variety, not just of the women but also in the varying lengths and pacing of its twenty-two chapters. A historical and biographical fiction, it touched on the inner workings of movie making and the mixing of reality and fantasy. Complexity, preconceived expectations and public demands played a major role in each stage of the women's lives. There were many elements I liked, the fight for control, the changing relationships and the way each character saw themselves. Travelling with the women through wartime, their careers and aging was revealing. However, I had a difficult time getting through this book. Many times, it lulled or rambled distracting me and I had to put it down for days before I would continue reading it. To be fair, this was the first novel for Amanda Lee Koe and perhaps it was her style of writing or my inability to appreciate and be riveted by the content. Either way, I am sure “delaying rays of the stars” would be well-received by others who appreciate and can enjoy her efforts. My honest review was based on the bound galley I won through a giveaway from Penquin Random House.
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  • Sebastianpeale
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing, wonderful aesthetic output. Subtle and nuanced. Not sure about the substance, as it is detailing some of the conflicts, suffering of humanity: old age, sickness, tragic fate, evil doer. Actually, to write such novel is some sort of Ego inflation and showing off, it is painful and miserable, for the author who is trapped by egoistic voices and the egoistic impulse to keep writing. Amanda may need to slow down. May be better to become a teacher, because writing can become ego inflatin An amazing, wonderful aesthetic output. Subtle and nuanced. Not sure about the substance, as it is detailing some of the conflicts, suffering of humanity: old age, sickness, tragic fate, evil doer. Actually, to write such novel is some sort of Ego inflation and showing off, it is painful and miserable, for the author who is trapped by egoistic voices and the egoistic impulse to keep writing. Amanda may need to slow down. May be better to become a teacher, because writing can become ego inflating and very painful and lonely and full of suffering, especially when you strain hard and try to bring some imagined past alive. Perhaps let the bones bury the bones. Ultimately, there is only one reader for Amanda Lee Koe and for every writer, and that is the Cosmic Mind or the Cosmic Spirit. So whether you struggle very hard to write or not, it does not matter. Whether you are successful or famous as the writer , it does not matter, because 1,000 years from now, nobody will remember Amanda Lee Koe or any other person ... There is only one memory floating around in the universe, and that is the Cosmic Mind. The Cosmic Mind knows all things and he is the only reader. The future is bright, like what Zen and Buddhists say, because we learn to release the trapped mind.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 2.5, rounded up for the high points.Koe's book is inspired by a photograph, taken in 1928 in Berlin by Alfred Eisenstaedt, of Leni Reifenstahl, actress and the director of Hitler's propaganda films; German (and strongly anti-Nazi) Marlene Dietrich. and Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong. The three had concurrent, and occasionally overlapping, careers. The parts of the book that deal with their personal histories and their interactions with one another (not all of which were positive) Rating: 2.5, rounded up for the high points.Koe's book is inspired by a photograph, taken in 1928 in Berlin by Alfred Eisenstaedt, of Leni Reifenstahl, actress and the director of Hitler's propaganda films; German (and strongly anti-Nazi) Marlene Dietrich. and Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong. The three had concurrent, and occasionally overlapping, careers. The parts of the book that deal with their personal histories and their interactions with one another (not all of which were positive) are interesting and well-constructed.However, in several of the 9 long chapters which comprise this book, the author introduces secondary characters which receive a great deal of attention but do not contribute in any way I could discern to the main story line. My general theory is that if one can't answer the question 'Why is this here?" it probably doesn't belong. I found these side trips distracting and confusing. Also, she doesn't use quotation marks, so it's hard to tell in spots whether a character is speaking or the author is commenting. The chronology of the book is also erratic, a further source of distraction and confusion. All in all, a frustrating read with some incredibly well-done moments. I don't think I'd read it if I knew what I was getting into, though.
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  • Aaron
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I won this book in a Doubleday giveaway on Instagram.An incredible first novel from Koe that delves into the lives of three women who were integral in film in the 20s and 30s and that's putting it mildly. This is definitely historical fiction, but Koe writes in such a way as to make believe you're seeing their lives from the 'fly on the wall' perspective, creating unilateral 'interviews' to interpret their views, their failures, their anger, and their success. I didn't know much abou Disclaimer: I won this book in a Doubleday giveaway on Instagram.An incredible first novel from Koe that delves into the lives of three women who were integral in film in the 20s and 30s and that's putting it mildly. This is definitely historical fiction, but Koe writes in such a way as to make believe you're seeing their lives from the 'fly on the wall' perspective, creating unilateral 'interviews' to interpret their views, their failures, their anger, and their success. I didn't know much about Wong, but Dietrich and Riefenstahl are household names at least, if not controversial trendsetters in their field. This is an outstanding book, even if you have very little interest in the era, the stars create their own world, all from the chance photograph of the three of them. Stunning work.
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  • Elise M
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advance copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada, & was excited to sink my teeth into it. First of all, Amanda Lee Koe is an evocative writer who effectively presents strong female voices! That being said, I have zero knowledge of any of the 3 protagonists or any of the work they have done with film. I was left feeling as though I was unable to engage on a deeper level because of this. Some of the chapters will certainly stick with me for their sensorial details and c I received an advance copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada, & was excited to sink my teeth into it. First of all, Amanda Lee Koe is an evocative writer who effectively presents strong female voices! That being said, I have zero knowledge of any of the 3 protagonists or any of the work they have done with film. I was left feeling as though I was unable to engage on a deeper level because of this. Some of the chapters will certainly stick with me for their sensorial details and compelling depictions, while others fell to the wayside for me. If you have ANY interest in the subject matter, I would recommend giving this novel a try for yourself.
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  • Bamboozlepig
    January 1, 1970
    DNF'd at the first Anna section. This is the second novel this week that I've tried to read ("Electric Hotel" was the first) that didn't set the dialogue apart in any way. At least in this one, Koe did use identifiers so you knew who was speaking, but still it was really annoying. It seemed like the plot took its time to meander along and it shifted from past to current time in a rather higgle-de-piggledy fashion.
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  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    Stellar debut novel. Koe is an author to follow. Sumptuous prose. Historical fiction about Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Leno Riefenstahl. https://www.npr.org/2019/07/12/740490...https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shang...https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/th...
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  • Lily
    January 1, 1970
    4.99 starsIf only there was less Leni! Otherwise perfect, sad because it follows lives till the end. I'd sell a kidney to replace my internal monologue with Amanda Lee Koe's writing. It's also Gay, but equally Sad. Amazing how this story originated from a snapshot, but is such a saga. Actresses age. History happens. This is very good.
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  • Zestcolumbia
    January 1, 1970
    A delightfully delicious book. Full of sensitive perceptions and comments, little nuggets of wisdom ... although I agree with some of the commentators that maybe Amanda is still very young at age 32, the tragic-philosophic vision is neither here nor there. I certainly hope this novel can win UK's Booker Prize and a few other literary prizes and awards. Given Amanda's young age, this is a momentous achievement for a Singaporean writer. (From artistic reason and perspectives, perhaps she may not l A delightfully delicious book. Full of sensitive perceptions and comments, little nuggets of wisdom ... although I agree with some of the commentators that maybe Amanda is still very young at age 32, the tragic-philosophic vision is neither here nor there. I certainly hope this novel can win UK's Booker Prize and a few other literary prizes and awards. Given Amanda's young age, this is a momentous achievement for a Singaporean writer. (From artistic reason and perspectives, perhaps she may not like the idea that I call her a Singaporean writer, in view of the type of artistic-social ambience in Singapore. Since I am a few decades older than her and I have been to various cities, I think I will call her a Cosmopolitan literary artist.)
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  • Kenny
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating look at 3 film pioneers of the 20th Century and how their lives intertwine with ours. Love it♥♥ Fascinating look at 3 film pioneers of the 20th Century and how their lives intertwine with ours. Love it♥️♥️
  • Michelle Pulignani
    January 1, 1970
    Great story.
  • Newyorkergmail.Com
    January 1, 1970
    Similar feelings, like Karolina. Many parts are interesting and charming.
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Such a riveting account of three actresses who met in the late 20s.
  • stork
    January 1, 1970
    Tedious period detailing
  • Huien
    January 1, 1970
    Ambitious book tying together the lives of three historical figures and other imagined characters. The story took a while to get into, but once we hit the wartime era the pace picked up. By the end, I could sense the legacy that these women have left behind - the impact they’ve made on film and culture decades after they heydays.
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