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Paula Champa

A "vividly detailed debut. . . [an] intellectual yet deeply human examination of what it means to live as well as to die." Booklist​


​​​​“Champa’s story is ultimately about time, memory and change, hope and regret. It is wrapped around an old-fashioned mystery. It is also about what a car can mean emotionally to its owner and driver.”​ >


"Paula Champa’s debut novel straddles the world of fiction and design history.... [It] asks us to re-imagine the future through our knowledge and appreciation of the past... [and] celebrates the excitement of progress.... I cannot recommend this book enough." Design Talks > 

"Underneath the hood...this is a novel about the past, present and future of design...." —Creative Bloq, "10 Novels Every Designer Will Love" >


Chosen as a Notable Design Book of 2013  ​Designers & Books ​​>​​

"Moving, psychologically complex and passionately written.... Champa delves into individual souls and emotions in her riveting, layered tale that holds its surprises right up until the end."  — Sam Coale, The Providence Journal​ 

"Compelling." —Publishers Weekly >

"Constructed like a mind-bending puzzle. Only at the end are the characters' true relationships to one another and to the coveted Beacon revealed.... Beth Corvid's quest to restore a classic racing car before her employer's death is both a cleverly written, complex mystery and a meditation on mortality." Shelf Awareness>


“An immensely thoughtful novel…. gorgeous, intelligent writing…. Champa’s ambitious debut provides plenty of food for thought. I may never look at cars in quite the same way again.” ​Scrinanbbles.blogspot​

"As she recounts the faded glory of the shuttered Beacon Motor Company, now poised for a modern reboot with the launch of its first electric vehicle, Champa is perhaps offering a reminder to automakers  and to us all  that escaping obsolescence requires re-imagining the future and relinquishing worn out models of the past." The Car Crush >

“[T]he book’s insights about art and design are stunning at times. Champa suggests that if design inhabits our lives at all, then we have a responsibility to become custodians to our own potential for encountering beauty.” Style Weekly

"This deeply resonant novel is not for car lovers only. The Beacon serves as a metaphor for all the things that humans project their hopes, dreams and identities into. It also perhaps alludes to the bodies that carry us through this world, beautiful shells housing interchangeable engines."


“The story, at its heart, is a lush character study that examines universal themes of life, death, grief, and change through an automotive lens….a real page-turner.” Driveshaft

"This novel brings together a love of vintage cars with more profound thoughts on life and death... [O]nce it takes hold the book will keep you captivated until the surprising ending... If you enjoy a thoughtful and challenging story with a few “aah-ha” moments when suddenly the author’s true intent shines forth, this will be a very satisfying read." — 

"This book, it's a good one.... While this is a novel that revolves around a car, it is not a novel about a car. Instead, it is a search for answers and purpose while facing loss...."River City Reading

"Champa explores the motives of car collectors and the role of the car in modern society while advocating development of alternative powertrains and new modes of transportation. The Afterlife of Emerson Tang is an engaging novel in which the author captures the world of car enthusiasm and car collecting and successfully weaves them into her larger themes of death, coping with loss, and looking forward." Automobile Magazine >


Read some articles & interviews about the book >

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