Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sung J. Woo's "Skin Deep"

Sung J. Woo’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, PEN/Guernica, and Vox. He has written three novels, Skin Deep (2020), Love Love (2015) and Everything Asian (2009), which won the 2010 Asian Pacific American Librarians Association Literature Award (Youth category). In 2014, Everything Asian was chosen for Coming Together in Skokie and Niles Township. A graduate of Cornell University with an MFA from New York University, he lives in Washington, New Jersey.

Here Woo dreamcasts an adaptation of Skin Deep:
Skin Deep is a traditional mystery novel, starring a private eye in search of a missing girl. Except unlike most mysteries, my detective is a Korean-American transracial adoptee. Siobhan O’Brien’s dad is Irish and her mom Norwegian, so she had quite the interesting childhood.

The book takes place in two distinct locations, Llewellyn College and the Krishna Center for Yoga, both located in upstate New York. As Siobhan works through her case, she encounters a Korean billionaire, his impossibly beautiful wife Cleopatra, plus the president of the college who used to be a runway fashion model. When the book moves to the Krishna Center, Siobhan meets Krishvananda, a guru with stadium-level magnetism and Dharma, a yogic expert. On Siobhan’s side are her bookkeeper Stacy and love-interest/lawyer Craig.

Siobhan should be played by Nora Lum, better known as Awkwafina. She’s eight years younger than Siobhan’s 40, but I have no doubt she can play a tad older. She was excellent in The Farewell, really showing her dramatic chops, and for my book, her comedic side would come into play as well.

Im Jin Ah, better known as Nana, would make an excellent Cleopatra. She’s entirely too young to play this part, but that would be the point, because in the book, Cleo is a woman in her fifties who looks like she’s thirty.

Irrfan Khan would’ve made a fabulous Krishvananda. God rest his soul.

Dharma’s real name is Benjamin Roth. He’s a sinewy, athletic older dude with mystical inclinations. Of course it has to be Matthew McConaughey. He was born to play this role!

Stacy has huge frizzy strawberry blonde hair. It’s got Natasha Lyonne written all over it. I can just hear her lovely, gravelly voice speaking her lines.

Craig used to be overweight, but no longer. Seth Rogan, you are him.

And there’s only one actress to play the ex-fashion-model president of Llewellyn – Cate Blanchett. There’s a very thin line between great acting and ham acting, and Blanchett knows when to cross this line better than anyone.

As far as directors go, how about M. Night Shyamalan? As long as he doesn’t write it! He’s such a technically astute filmmaker and I wish he would lend his directorial talent to more projects. Also, Lulu Wang, the director of The Farewell, would be fantastic; a female heading this film actually makes very good sense.
Learn more about the book and author at Sung J. Woo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue