Clark’s is a laconic, wry voice, delicately tiptoeing between comedy and pathos, always alert to idiosyncratic detail ... Aching and disquieted, urbane and oblique, Clark’s is a humorous, wiry voice: a mix of high and low culture, boppy registers and jibes and sudden intrusions of seriousness; epiphanies (occasional); poignancy (often frustrated). Many of the Asian characters are only nominally so – they are hyphenated, diasporic ... Stylistically, Clark is a great exponent of the full stop; her semicolon is almost non-existent (she would rarely inflect a sentence the way I just have). Similarly, colons and dashes are not favoured: they appear sparingly – if at all. She is fond of exclamation marks, in more ways than one ... the strongest fiction debut I have read all year.
These 18 stories focus mainly on grief and emotional connections, with Clark’s comedic, smart, and electric voice giving this dark collection its charm ... The recognizably contemporary settings in She Is Haunted bring out the brutal losses of everyday life and their aftermath as characters go about their daily lives and attempt to heal from hurt ... What can seem peculiar at first is made sympathetic in Clark’s hands. When a character demonstrates her profound love for an ex’s chihuahua and a neurotic ballerina learns another language to impress her boyfriend and his dance partner, these behaviors are revealed in their emotional complexity, as expressions of grief ... The nuanced social commentary in these stories adds another layer to Clark’s attention to regaining identity through self-acceptance and awareness in the face of loss ... Clark has her characters process heavy existential themes, but she allows them to do so with varying degrees of humor ... Although Clark does not restrict her focus to women, her writing is exceptionally powerful as she confronts mother-daughter relationships and intergenerational trauma ... The collection is beautifully intimate, yet methodically layered, and Clark’s humor and narrative pacing prevent She Is Haunted from falling into self-destructive pity and unhinged sadness. Intertwining pain and comedy, She Is Haunted is a testament to how complex emotional attachments are, and how many different forms coping with loss can take. The experiences the reader endures with the main characters are so emotionally raw, as Clark rejects predictable narratives for a study of struggling with identity and loss. Revolving around relationships, identity, and grief, She Is Haunted drops the reader into the story and provides only the most essential information about its world in favor of action and emotional reflection. A bitterly funny look into sentimentality, Clark’s debut manages to be introspective and playful, cathartic and comedic.
If you’ve felt stuck in a reading slump of late, stop what you’re doing and pick up a copy of She Is Haunted ... the hype is warranted ... Clark introduces herself as a playful and inventive voice you don’t want to sleep on, and I’m already hanging out for whatever she writes next ... electrically original in both prose style and energy ... An absolute pleasure to read.
Clark’s collection of fiction braids the real and the surreal. Perspectives are skewed playfully but an intent to explore serious matters often lies beneath the whimsy ... Clark’s prose-style is unembellished; her sentences often short and blunt, but their economy lends power to the story ... As with any collection of fiction, there are some offerings that won’t resonate with all readers. Some tales are not as strong as the others, don’t feel quite finished or seem as though they are excerpts of longer pieces. But regardless of their external settings, or whether they are social realist or surreal or a combination of both, most of the tales in She is Haunted are seen through a prism of loss and absence ... The prose on the whole is unspectacular; understated and at times underwhelming rather than techno-boosted by imagery or any other fancy poetics, but by unending and perverting expectations, Clark controls her narratives, ensuring that the reader’s curiosity is piqued. Most of her stories have surprising, eyebrow-raising elements. You may think you know where she is going, but to her credit, Clark often swerves into an unexpected detour. Sometimes, she just leads you into cul-de-sacs ... Her vision and writing of the female experience is curious and expansive, conveyed as it is through these short fictions that take in the messiness of life and arbitrariness of death. The connective tissue between these stories is simply and deeply the bonds of human relationships, whether tenuous or durable ... not a collection with neat endings arrayed with characters whose motivations are easy to discern. It’s tempting when first looking at the cover to position it the right way up so one is looking at it in landscape format but as the book reminds us, nothing in life is that straight-forward and served on an even plane.
... gives keen insight into the transnational Chinese experience and the often relatable struggles and fears these characters face ... Clark’s stories explore trauma, mother-daughter relationships, female friendships, identity, and grief with humor and an incredible wit that will capture readers.
In turns devastating and hilarious, Clark’s exceptional debut collection cuts right to the emotional core of its characters and their conflicts in stories that examine Asian identity, familial relationships, climate anxiety, and gender with an astonishing sense of nuance and clarity ... With a striking style, Clark consistently hits her mark, sticking each landing with breathtaking poignancy. This will not disappoint.