China Girl: And Other Stories
“She hates the David Bowie song…How could anyone think of that as a beautiful Chinese girl?”
So thinks May Lee, the exotic dancer whose story is told in the eponymous opening story of the collection “China Girl,” whose characters move, often ambiguously, between East and West, belonging to neither and both. San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Beijing all appear as part of the same cultural and geographical continuum, as well as little seaside towns in which human and political tragedies play out.
The stories of “China Girl” are delicately yet vigorously crafted–each one shows meticulous construction, with subtle details and close attention given to the characters’ internal states, but with the inclusion of plenty of earthy action as well: people eat, meet, break up, fight, die, and make love (or fail to make love) in vignettes that suggest something beyond the beginning, middle, and end of the story in question.
And in fact, while I would hesitate to label this collection as “metaphysical,” “visionary,” or “otherworldly” exactly, there certainly are ghosts, of both the literal and figurative kind, who add a layer of complexity to the situations the characters must negotiate. Like a delicious meal made up of multiple dishes, this story collection is rich in multiple flavors without being overwhelming, and well worth reading for anyone looking for some contemporary literary/multicultural short fiction.
My thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.