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Tao Lin
Born July 2, 1983 (1983-07-02) (age 26)
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, poet, editor
Period (2005)- present
Subjects concrete reality, himself
Notable work(s) you are a little bit happier than i am (2006)
Notable award(s) Seth Barkas Prize in Creative Writing from New York University (2005)
Official website

Tao Lin (born July 2, 1983) is an American poet, novelist and short story writer.

He is the author of five books of fiction and poetry: a novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel, published September 15, 2009; a novel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, and a short story collection, Bed, published simultaneously in May 2007; two poetry collections, you are a little bit happier than i am, which won Action Books' December Prize in 2005 and was published in November 2006, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, published in May 2008. Melville House Publishing has published all his books except for his first poetry-collection. Additionally, Lin is the author of a chapbook of poetry, this emotion was a little e-book, and a chapbook of stories, Today the Sky is Blue and White with Bright Blue Spots and a Small Pale Moon and I Will Destroy Our Relationship Today, published by the Internet press Bear Parade in 2006.[1]

Lin's next book, Richard Yates, his second novel, is forthcoming September 7, 2010 from Melville House Publishing. Lin has stated it is "twice as long" as his first novel and a "page turner."

Lin's work has appeared in literary journals and magazines such as NOON, Gigantic, Nerve, Vice, Esquire, The Stranger, 3:AM Magazine, The Mississippi Review, The Poetry Foundation, Bear Parade, The Cincinnati Review, Other Voices, Fourteen Hills, and Opium Magazine. He is the founding editor of Muumuu House, publishing Gmail chats, poetry, and fiction, both online and in print.[2] Lin is also a co-editor of the literary press Ass Hi Books with Ellen Kennedy.

Translations of Lin's books have been published in Japan, Germany, and Spain and are forthcoming in Norway and Serbia. Shoplifting from American Apparel and Eeeee Eee Eeee were optioned for film in March 2010.


Critical response

His writing has attracted both negative and positive attention from publications such as New York Magazine, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Stranger, ANP Quarterly, Paper, Paste, Nylon, Vice, Flaunt, Giant Robot, and Gawker, who referred to him as "maybe perhaps the single most irritating person we've ever had to deal with," [3] though he was later pardoned.[4]

Miranda July has said, "Tao Lin writes from moods that less radical writers would let pass—from laziness, from vacancy, from boredom. And it turns out that his report from these places is moving and necessary, not to mention frequently hilarious.” L Magazine has said, "We've long been deeply irked by Lin's vacuous posturing and 'I know you are but what am I' dorm-room philosophizing..."[5] Sam Anderson in New York Magazine has said, "Dismissing Lin, however, ignores the fact that he is deeply smart, funny, and head-over-heels dedicated in exactly the way we like our young artists to be."[6]

Shoplifting from American Apparel

In September 2009 Lin's novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel, was published to mixed, strong reviews. The Guardian said, "Trancelike and often hilarious… Lin's writing is reminiscent of early Douglas Coupland, or early Bret Easton Ellis, but there is also something going on here that is more profoundly peculiar, even Beckettian." [7] The Village Voice called it a "fragile, elusive book."[8] Bookslut said, "it shares an affected childishness with bands like The Moldy Peaches and it has a put-on weirdness reminiscent of Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You."[9] Time Out New York said, "Writing about being an artist makes most contemporary artists self-conscious, squeamish and arch. Lin, however, appears to be comfortable, even earnest, when his characters try to describe their aspirations (or their shortcomings) [...] purposefully raw."[10] San Francisco Chronicle said, “Tao Lin's sly, forlorn, deadpan humor jumps off the page [...] will delight fans of everyone from Mark Twain to Michelle Tea.”[11] Los Angeles Times said, "Camus' The Stranger or sociopath?"[12] while Austin Chronicle called it "scathingly funny" and said that "it might just be the future of literature."[13]

In an interview aired December 3 with Michael Silverblatt on KCRW's Bookworm Silverblatt called the novella "the purest example so far of the minimalist aesthetic as it used to be enunciated"[14] and Lin described the novella's style as deliberately "concrete, with all the focus on surface details, with no sentences devoted to thoughts or feelings, and I think that results in a kind of themelessness, that, in its lack of focus on anything else, the theme becomes, to me, the passage of time."[15]

Lesley Arfin called it her "new favorite book." A quote from Daniel Handler on promotional materials calls the book "Helluvanovella." Stephen Elliott said he "loved" it, naming it, along with Dave Eggers' Zeitoun and Zak Smith's We Did Porn, as one of his three favorites books of 2009.[16]

In December 2009 clothing retailer Urban Outfitters began selling Shoplifting from American Apparel in its stores.[17] This is notable because American Apparel is widely regarded as the main competitor of Urban Outfitters.

Richard Yates

In July 2008 Lin offered to sell six "shares" of the future royalties for his, at the time, unnamed second novel, which has since been named Richard Yates. A single share cost $2000, and would entitle an investor to 10% of the royalties. He posted a business proposal on his blog, informing readers of his motivations behind selling shares and projected returns from the venture.

Lin not only sold all six shares, but managed to capture the attention of prominent media both in the United States and abroad. In England, papers such as The Daily Telegraph[18] and The Guardian [19] ran pieces on him. In the United States, Lin was mentioned on the blogs of New York Magazine[20], The New Yorker [21], The New York Times [22], and Poets & Writers[23].

When interviewed on BBC 2's "The Chris Evans Show" Lin credited his parents, his intern (Soffia Stiassni), and four strangers, including writer Mattathias Schwartz as investors.[24]

Richard Yates is expected to be published September 07 2010 by Melville House Publishing.[25]


External links

Work by Tao Lin


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  2. ^ Ries, Brian (2009-03-22). "Tao Lin and Muumuu House Have Books 4 U!". Free Williamsburg. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  3. ^ Gould, Emily (2007-07-27). "Now We Also Hate Miranda July". Gawker. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  4. ^ Gould, Emily (2007-12-04). "Pardons". Gawker. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
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  12. ^,0,5317820.story
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  18. ^ Moore, Matthew (2008-08-04). "Penniless author sells shares in next novel". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  19. ^ Flood, Alison (2008-08-06). "Taking stock of Tao Lin". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  20. ^ "The Approval Matrix: Week of August 18, 2008". New York Magazine. 
  21. ^ "In the News: Tory Reads, Male Retorts". The New Yorker. 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  22. ^ Freakanomics (2008-08-01). "When a Novelist Holds an IPO". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  23. ^ "Author Sells Shares of Royalties for Unfinished Novel". Poets & Writers. 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  24. ^ Tkacik, Maureen. "How Tao Lin Made A Quick Twelve Grand Selling A Novel He Hasn't Written!", Gawker, 2008-08-22. Retrieved on 2009-03-13.
  25. ^ Roy, Jessica (2009-09-25). "NYU Alum and Poet Tao Lin Doesn’t Care Whether or Not You Think Print Is Dead". NYU Local. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 

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