An anti-coming-of-age story, set between the U.S. and China, that examines themes of escapism and toxic masculinity.
In the years following his graduation from college, Cole Chen has been back and forth between the U.S. and China, struggling to navigate his transition into adulthood. Estranged from his parents, he returns to Hunan province to work for his friends, while also attempting to write a memoir based on his experiences. During the course of this year abroad, he meets a young woman (under initially dubious circumstances), whom he dates briefly, before returning to live with his brother in California, where he is forced to confront a dark reality from his past.
With shades of Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You and Teju Cole’s Open City, Unwelcome attempts to inspect the extent to which one’s surroundings (both geographical and cultural) shape conceptions of self-identity, while also raising a more complicated discussion about the ways in which men are taught to view the opposite sex.