Each story features immigrants or children of immigrants, and some of the characters suffer grave indignities. The question of where to make a home safely is omnipresent ... Wang slowly narrows the space afforded to his characters, both literally and figuratively, to astonishing effect ... Even in the stories spared from active warfare, Wang's carefully wrought characters grapple with their own ambitions and failures, an all-consuming battle he captures beautifully.
The book contains a novella and six short stories. The stories are exciting on many levels, the novella is not.... But the novella has the feel of its characters walking through life, the precarious life of actors to be sure, but seemingly without real highs or lows. They might be anyone, cushioned ultimately by family money. And it doesn’t appear particularly relevant to the tale that Leonard is Chinese. The six short stories, on the other hand, pop with life and poetry .... The settings and situations that Wang creates are inventive without being unbelievable. He tells a story in a way that the reader wants to turn the page, care about the story’s characters, and awaken an emotional reaction at their fate.... Wang has the distinct skill of evoking time and place, many eras, many places, and putting his characters, and the reader in them. For this, for his erudition, for his poetic prose, readers of short fiction should search out any short story his writes.
Wang’s elegant debut delves into the heterogeneity of the Chinese diaspora in stories that take the reader to settings as disparate as 1920s Canada and Nazi-occupied Vienna. Wang is equally convincing with the voice of the insecure Oxford undergraduate whose parents run a Chinese takeaway in 'Belsize Park,' as he is with a washed-up Chinese American hockey player and deadbeat dad living in modern-day Florida in 'Allhallows.' ... Occasionally the stories feel as if they end prematurely and avoid narrative conflict, but Wang’s prose is subtle and economical, well suited to his themes of disappointment, alienation, and departure. As the stories build on one another, they create a portrait full of both nuance and grace.