Deceit and Other Possibilities by Vanessa Hua [in Booklist]
Journalist Vanessa Hua’s debut in fiction is an intriguing collection of 10 stories with personal resonance from being the child of Chinese immigrants and a two-decade, continent-hopping career. Each of her protagonists is never quite grounded, caught between multiple cultures and countries. Each hides beneath layers of deceit, clinging to lies that enable survival.
In “For What They Shared” and “Accepted,” protagonists set literal fires, as if their deceptions might disappear in the flames. In “Loaves and Fishes” and “The Deal,” two fallen men of God attempt desperate other-side-of-the-world tactics to recover their flocks. While chicanery destroys relationships in “Line, Please” and “The Shot,” betrayal threatens marriages in “What We Have Is What We Need” and “Harte Lake.”
Hua’s ability to imagine the detailed lives of her disparate characters, including a sex-scandal runaway, missionary saviors, and a lock-picking immigrant, gives her stories impact, despite a few jarring endings. Hua’s collection pairs well with those of Mia Alvar, Violet Kupersmith, and Tania James. Winner of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and other honors, Hua is a writer to watch.
Published: 2016 (United States)