The Reject: Community, Politics, and Religion After the Subject (Fordham University Press, 2014) is my first book, and was awarded the MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scarglione Prize for French and Francophone studies in 2015 (Cornell's coverage of the award can be read here).
As the title of my book indicates, I propose a theory of the reject, which, as opposed to the subject, I argue to be more adequate figure of thought to the question of others and differences, especially in affirming others without acculturating their differences. There are ethical, as well as political, implications in articulating the reject, therefore. In that respect, I also call for the reject as the figure of thought for our times, even though the large part of my book concerns demonstrating the reject's marked emergence in contemporary French thought. The turn to animals and to "bare life" in contemporary intellectual discourse, and the rise of the 99% during the Occupy movement, are just some of the phenomena that suggest we are dealing very much with the reject today. Besides, more than the subject, the object, or the abject, the reject is the condition that we would all have experienced at some point in our lives: who has not experienced some form of rejection - rejected in love, excluded from certain social circles, unrecognized by the profession - in his or her life?
I am proud to say that The Reject had the warm support of the late Helen Tartar. I remember the first time I discussed the book's prospectus with her when she visited Cornell in the fall of 2010. The prospectus was sent to her prior to the meeting. I didn't know what to expect and was very nervous walking up the corridor to the office where she was. I will always remember the moment after I opened the door. She greeted me with the warmest of smile and then went on to recite the opening of the Zhuangzi - in Chinese (at that time, my prospectus indeed had a section on the Zhuangzi, which I have opted not to include in the final version of the book). Following that meeting, Helen became not only the editor of my book, but also, more importantly, a friend, a mentor, a guardian angel. When we met over meals, she would so generously speak fondly of the reject, and I would listen in awe as she also spoke of her appreciation of Chinese literature and philosophy. When I became ill in 2013, she quickly told me not to worry about the book but to concentrate on getting well. She would constantly send me encouraging notes and positive energies. I wish I could have done the same when she needed them. I last met up with Helen in Chicago in January 2014. That was when she helped craft the sub-title to my book. It is with immense regret that Helen is no longer around to see the book in print.
A short video on the reject, designed by Kindea Labs, is now available for viewing here: https://vimeo.com/121501203
The Reject has also been endorsed by the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy and by Gregg Lambert and Philip Armstrong, leading scholars in the field of contemporary French thought. Here are their endorsements:
“Subject, Eject, Reject, Project: ‘ject’ is the theme, the tone, the issue. Irving Goh understands perfectly the jection without any kind of junction, recognizing that what remains to be thought is just some ject-society or community. In reading The Reject, one begins to join the unjoinable."—Jean-Luc Nancy
"This book is a rigorous examination of the problems surrounding the returns to/of the subject that have occurred under the motley banner of "French Theory." Closely tracking the discourses of Deleuze, Derrida, and Nancy, the author convincingly argues that what we need today is a better strategy of re-jection. I couldn't agree more!"—Gregg Lambert, Syracuse University
“A highly ambitious, theoretically engaged, and timely response to several strands in recent French philosophical and intellectual thought.”—Philip Armstrong, The Ohio State University
Reviews of The Reject have also been published:
- Ann Smock (French, University of Berkeley) reviewed it in Critical Inquiry
- Ian James (French, University of Cambridge) reviewed it in Cultural Politics
- John Paul Ricco (University of Toronto) reviewed it in L'Esprit Créateur
- Corina Stan (Duke University) reviewed it in MLN
- Daniel N Nutters's review appeared in Symploke
- Iraklis Ioannidis's review appeared in Marx & Philosophy Review of Books
- BM Stigel Hansen's review appeared in London School of Economics Review of Books