Fractured families populate Nancy Au's provocative 17-story debut collection, highlighting disappearing parents--whether by choice or by death--and the children left to endure and survive. Au draws on her Chinese heritage in her narratives. Some of her characters are deeply affected by recent history: some are escaping the horrific tragedy of the Cultural Revolution, and others have the in-between identity of being an immigrant. Still others are steeped in a cultural legacy that incorporates magic, fox spirits and dragon gods. Lest readers worry that darkness overshadows, Au proves herself quite adept at sly, affecting humor ... By the book's end, Au's unpredictable cast has embodied far-ranging history, cultures, locations and genres, with irreverently engaging results. For short-form connoisseurs, Au's accomplishments will undoubtedly regale and resonate.
Nancy Au’s exquisite short story collection...focuses on survivors—refugees, orphans, widows, single mothers, and village elders—who are caught between old world Chinese values and heritages and the challenges and promise of a new world ... Tremendous in their sensitivity and imagination, these stories layer complex images with a powerful cadence. Their characters struggle to navigate cultural differences and challenging circumstances ... Nancy Au’s debut short story collection is resonant, nuanced, and profound, and its views of characters facing difficulty with strength and courage are unique and engaging.
An original and delightfully off-kilter debut collection about searching for a sense of belonging ... Au writes with keen understanding of children's need to see the good in their flawed parents; many stories turn on moments of children applying the balm of their imaginations to painful situations ...
Only a writer who knows how closely bound are heartbreak and resilience could write stories as emotionally stirring as these.