Reviving an ancient Chinese ritual passed down by her mother, 24-year-old Leen has opened an ear-cleaning and massage studio in the Topic Heights Shopping Center. But the social fabric of Par Mars is coming loose, and a quiet unrest is growing among the mall's low-wage workers as store managers begin to fall victim to increasingly brutal and spontaneous attacks. When Leen befriends Jean Paul, a pharmacist enmeshed in a cryptic online community, she finds herself embroiled in a troubling plot to disrupt the routines of the town's banal consumer culture.
Lau’s spare prose hovers frustratingly and exquisitely above the action as she patiently floats us past each tiny misery Leen faces in the fight for Lotus Fusion. Her gift for writing accumulative insanities creates the same dizzying effect as a good cleaning.
Gunk Baby is not so much a contemporary critique of present-day ideologies...as a dissociative meditation on a world that has come to feel increasingly cruel and meaningless. A stoned, affectless claustrophobia prevails ... Gunk Baby is fascinated with transcendence and breaking free from the hellscape; her prose combines the languid torpor of Michael Bible with the unease of Yoko Ogawa’s more macabre work.
Gunk Baby is a riveting story ... While this book does fit the traditional structure of a novel, Lau maintains her flowing prose and evocative language. Staying within the noir tradition of her previous book, Lau interweaves her characters’ mundane thoughts and wandering observations with harsh realities of violence and unresolved trauma. Gunk Baby is a beautifully unique novel which will be loved by both new and old fans of Lau’s work.