Delayed Rays of a Star book cover and author photo

Professor Nicky Beer on Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe

June 23, 2020

In our Wonderwork series, CU Denver faculty, students, staff, and alumni recommend one book, movie, or podcast that deserves more attention. Our ultimate goal is to promote a diverse and inclusive book and media culture. June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, so we welcome work by or about LGBTQ+ individuals. Nominate your favorite Wonderwork bemailing cudenvernews@ucdenver.edu or share on social with #CUDenverWonderwork.


I love the breadth and adventurousness of Singaporean-American author Amanda Lee Koe’s debut 2019 novel Delayed Rays of a Star. The narrative interweaves the lives of the legendary Marlene Dietrich, Chinese-American film icon Anna May Wong, and Nazi propagandist director Leni Riefenstahl—as well as their acquaintances and intimates—across different junctures of the 20th century in a narrative that is both historically attentive and imaginatively robust. With rigor and nuance, Koe interrogates racism, fascism, queerness, exploitation, and the modern entertainment machine. And yet she never sacrifices the small, quiet moments in her characters’ lives—we’re admitted into their most private encounters and thoughts, closely following their insecurities, fears, pettiness, ambitions, and passions. A great read for the summer, or any season.

– Associate Professor and Poet Nicky Beer, English Department


Nicky Beer is the author of The Octopus Game (Carnegie Mellon, 2015) and The Diminishing House (Carnegie Mellon 2010), both winners of the Colorado Book Award for Poetry. She has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is a poetry editor for the journal Copper Nickel.