‘Ghost Forest’ by Pik-Shuen Fung: What We Say to the Dying

by Ray Levy Uyeda

In Ghost Forest (251 pages; Random House), the novel’s title is also the name of a painting created by the protagonist, an unnamed daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong. As an adult, the narrator takes her father, who throughout her childhood split his time between Hong Kong and Vancouver, to see her painting in a juried show. “In the painting, I am riding a brown bird,” she describes. “We are soaring above tree after tree, and each one is white and translucent. I washed white watercolor on gray rice paper to create that effect.” Her father’s reaction is not what […]

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‘How Beautiful We Were’ by Imbolo Mbue: A Vast Landscape

by Owen Torrey

In one telling, the story might begin here: the children started getting sick, and nobody knew why. At first, two died within a month. Before long, several more got feverish, then stopped being able to speak, and, soon after, to breathe. Surely, it was said, there must be a common cause. But what was shared between these children? Only the irreducible things: the ground they walked over, the air they breathed, the water they drew from the village well—right where the pipelines ran. When Imbolo Mbue’s second novel How Beautiful We Were (364 pages; Random House) begins, these things have […]

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