(3 / 5) – It’s Okay
There has been a renewed interest in rewriting classic literature with diverse characters, settings and sometimes even slightly shifted plots. The Chosen and the Beautiful is Nghi Vo’s retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerlad’s The Great Gatsby. I will be honest, of all the great classics, The Great Gatsby is certainly not my favorite, but I was intrigued by this darker more mystical adaptation, so I gave it a try and it was certainly worth my time.
Vo retold the story through the lens of Jordan Baker, Daisy’s friend, who in the original is always present but rarely given an opinion or point of view. As the protagonist within this retelling Jordan is representative of a darker more diverse world that is attempting through government oversight to limit the influx of both skin colors as well as magical abilities. Jordan has been adopted from Vietnam and has the ability to cut and create through paper.
I LOVE the idea of this rewrite. It fell short for me in Vo’s holding to a lot of the details in the original that could have been easily released, giving time for a more robust dive into the mystical world and politics of her created world. Details like Jordan still being a tennis player, or the man in glasses overlooking the drive. There was a push and pull between the original and the new that didn’t quite work for me.
I still enjoyed the storytelling and the twists and turns of this new world Vo creates and it is a deeply sensuous and gluttonous world that delights and sometimes overwhelms the senses.