Liu Qingwu doesn’t set out to commit a crime. He only wants to sell a painting—something more substantial than the Impressionist knockoffs he flogs to tourists outside New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the lucrative commission he receives from a Chelsea art dealer is more complicated than he initially realizes. Liu has been hired to create not an homage to Andrew Cantrell’s modernist masterpiece, Elegy, but a forgery that will sell for millions.

The painting will change the lives of everyone associated with it—Liu, a Chinese immigrant still reeling from his wife’s recent departure; Caroline, a gallery owner intent on saving her aunt’s legacy; Molly, her perceptive assistant; and Harold, a Taiwanese businessman with an ethical dilemma on his hands. Weaving together their stories with that of Cantrell and the inspiration for his masterpiece, Wendy Lee’s intricate, multilayered novel explores the unique fascination of great art and the lengths to which some are driven to create it—and to possess it.


“This is a sublime examination of what defines art, what gives art value, and the prices, far beyond the monetary, that we’re willing to pay to view it, admire it, acquire it, and even let it go. Through fragile alliances, flawed relationships, and capricious loyalties, Lee’s characters will lie, distort, betray, and ultimately accede to uneasy truths.” –Booklist

“This well-written mystery ponders the effects of one’s decisions in the face of moral quandaries while depicting a lesser-known slice of the New York art world. A captivating read for most fans of popular fiction.” –Library Journal

“Lee delves into what propels people to do the right or wrong thing and centers the book’s unique perspective on the creation of a forged painting. . . . As the story unfolds from different viewpoints, the author moves back and forth in time, bringing depth and understanding to what motivates people in both their personal and professional lives.” –Publishers Weekly

“Using a notorious art forgery case in New York City as a starting point, Wendy Lee spins her own fascinating take on how such a thing might come about. Told from multiple viewpoints—including the forger, the gallery owner who commissions the forgery, and the man who buys the painting—The Art of Confidence gives us a glimpse into each of their worlds, all full of intrigue and sadness.” –B. A. Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of The Muralist and The Art Forger 

The Art of Confidence is a gripping read, a swirling tale that weaves together the schemes and struggles of people touched by the murky, malleable question of value in art. No one is blameless, no one left unchanged when one woman manipulates the vicissitudes of the art world for her own good. Wendy Lee gives us an original, clear-eyed look behind the gallery windows and behind the studio walls, and you will be completely engaged.” –Robin Black, author of Life Drawing

With a cast of characters including a Taiwanese businessman, a young college dropout, a failed Chinese artist, and a desperate gallery owner, this enthralling novel examines the lengths we will go to to fight for what’s ours. Each setting, from Ridgewood, Queens, to Taipei, Taiwan, is convincingly rendered; each character is as genuine as an authenticated painting. Art’s creation and existence causes a ripple effect, reinforcing how closely we are all connected, and how much we depend upon these ties.” –Allison Amend, author of Enchanted Islands and A Nearly Perfect Copy


Michael Tang and his sister, Emily, have both struggled to forge a sense of identity in their parents’ adopted homeland. Emily, an immigration lawyer in New York City, baffles their mother, Ling, by refusing to have children. At twenty-six, Michael is unable to commit to a relationship or a career, or to come out to his family. And now their father, after a lifetime of sacrifice, has passed away.

When Michael finds a letter to his father from a long-ago friend, he impulsively travels to China in the hopes of learning more about a man he never really knew. In this rapidly modernizing country he begins to understand his father’s decisions, including one whose repercussions can be felt into the present day. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Ling and Emily question their own choices, trying to forge a path that bends toward new loves and fresh beginnings.

Wendy Lee’s powerfully honest novel captures the complexity of the immigrant experience, exploring one family’s hidden history, unspoken hurts, and search for a place to call home.

Praise for Across a Green Ocean

“Keenly observed and boldly imagined, Across a Green Ocean follows one family’s searching grief from the lawns of suburban New Jersey to an immigration detention center in upstate New York to the nightclubs of present-day China. Wendy Lee is a wise and unsentimental guide on this fateful journey of loss, longing, and hope, one whose words ring with rare compassion and understated grace.” –Deanna Fei, author of A Thread of Sky 

“As haunting as it is inspiring, Wendy Lee’s Across a Green Ocean examines the truths we share and those that we withhold, and how vast the space between the two can become in our relationships. Lee creates characters who are each, at times, profoundly flawed and deeply moving. I will not soon forget them.” –Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals


“On the surface, Across a Green Ocean is the story of a Chinese immigrant family who learns about the shameful secret their father has taken to the grave. What Wendy Lee has actually written is an emotionally charged story about fear of censure and how it conceals truths that isolate us even as we crave understanding from the ones we love. She really nails the dynamics between generations and cultures.” –Janie Chang, author of Three Souls

“I was hooked by this engrossing novel, peopled by characters who are hard to forget. You won’t see China—and for that matter, America—the same way again.” –Samuel Park, author of This Burns My Heart



When Hua Wu arrives in New York City, her life seems destined to resemble that of countless immigrants before her. She spends her hectic days working in a restaurant, and her lonesome nights in a crowded tenement, yearning for those she left behind in Fuzhou, China

But one day everything changes for Hua, when she meets Jane Templeton and her daughter Lily, a two-year-old adopted from China. Worried that Lily will know little about the country of her birth, or her native language, Jane eventually decides to hire Hua to be her nanny.

From the moment she steps into Jane’s West Village brownstone, Hua finds herself in a world far removed from the cramped streets of Chinatown or her grandmother’s home in Fuzhou. Soon she is deeply attached to Lily and her adoptive parents. But when cracks show in the beautiful façade, what will Hua do to protect the little girl who reminds her so much of her own past? An elegant and poignant debut novel, Happy Family is an entrancing exploration of love and loss, the familiar and the foreign, and the ties that bind strangers together.

Praise for Happy Family

“[Lee] deals with a hot-button issue in a manner neither shy nor didactic, and she invests her characters with humanity when they might easily become sociological types. Happy Family is worth reading for those reasons alone, and serves as the debut of a writer who may well do great work later on.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Rich and multilayered, Lee’s novel explores what it means to be a part of something, whether it’s a family or a culture. Told in Hua’s sparse, somber voice, the story grabs readers from the start and doesn’t let go until the final page. A truly memorable first outing.” —Booklist (starred review)

“This first novel uncoils slyly, then strikes with startling yet inevitable plot developments that unfold before the reader sees them coming….Hua’s innate intelligence and irreducible sense of self resonate in every observation as she decodes the monied, impulsive lifestyle of the Templeton-Walkers, their cultured friends and the country that they call their own. A powerful debut.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Wendy Lee’s moving and assured first novel unravels the tangled knot of international adoption to reveal its finest, most delicate threads: the uncertainties of parenthood, the unexpected affections between strangers, and, ultimately, the origins of enduring love.” —Dana Sachs, author of The Secret of the Nightingale Palace

“For anyone who wants to delve into the troubled psyche of the many silent millions in this country, this moving tale of a young Chinese immigrant woman who is handpicked to care for a child closer to herself than its legal mother, is required reading. Like the novel’s misleadingly innocuous title, Wendy Lee’s intentionally light hand allows for the showcasing of some very courageous and harrowing brush strokes.” —Porochista Khakpour, author of The Last Illusion

“Even just describing the premise of this novel brings a certain anxiety: a Chinese au pair is hired by a white couple who’ve adopted a Chinese daughter. Wendy Lee debuts with a quietly dangerous novel of domestic life, about that anxiety, asking the uncomfortable questions: who do we belong to and who do we belong with, and can we change that? The story moves among some of the new taboos in American life as we live it now, sure-footed and unflinching, funny and smart—a remarkable first novel.” —Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh

Happy Family is a beautifully written portrait of a young Chinese immigrant finding her way in New York City. Told in lyrical prose and filled with surprising insights, this story is sure to dazzle readers and touch them deeply.” —John Searles, author of Help for the Haunted

“Lee’s sure-footed debut locates the raw nerve connecting two social phenomena—China’s one-child law and the adoption of Chinese babies by American parents. Hua, Lee’s stranger in a strange land, speaks in a soft but firm voice from the ineradicable margin.” —Ed Park, author of Personal Days

“We can endure being unrecognized for just so long. The main character of this beautifully written, passionately accurate novel looks back on her passage to the point at which the isolation became unbearable, and the action she took in response to reaching it: breaking through the first of the concentric circles of people surrounding her—a family—and setting out on a dangerous journey outward. That she survives, that she has stopped moving, that she can tell us about it…these are the achievements of this revelatory and original book.” —Chuck Wachtel, author of The Gates

“A delicate and moving coming-of-age story. In deft, sparing prose, this gifted young writer explores New York City through the eyes of a newly arrived Chinese immigrant. At the same time, Ms. Lee finds her way into that civilized wilderness, the human heart.” —Paul Kafka-Gibbons, Los Angeles Times Book Prize–winning author of Love: Enter