A graceful and indelible debut about love, grief, and family welcomes you into its pages and invites you to linger, staying with you long after you've closed its covers.
How do you grieve, if your family doesn't talk about feelings?
This is the question the unnamed protagonist of Ghost Forest considers after her father dies. One of the many Hong Kong "astronaut" fathers, he stayed in Hong Kong to work, while the rest of the family immigrated to Vancouver before the 1997 Handover, when the British returned sovereignty over Hong Kong to China.
As she revisits memories of her father throughout the years, she struggles with unresolved questions and misunderstandings. Turning to her mother and grandmother for answers, she discovers her own life refracted brightly in theirs.
Buoyant, heartbreaking, and unexpectedly funny, Ghost Forest is a slim novel that envelops the reader in joy and sorrow. Fung writes with a poetic and haunting voice, layering detail and abstraction, weaving memory and oral history to paint a moving portrait of a Chinese-Canadian astronaut family.
Fung's moving debut follows an unnamed protagonist whose family immigrated to Vancouver from Hong Kong when she was three, right before the 1997 handover to Chinese rule. Her father, fearing he won't be able to find a job abroad, stays in Hong Kong and thus, their "astronaut family," coined by the Hong Kong media to describe families where the father stays behind for work, is born. The narrator grows up in Vancouver with her mother, grandparents and younger sister, born a year after they immigrated, and develops a complicated relationship with her father, whom she only sees twice a year. The time they do spend together, like when she lives with him during a summer internship in Hong Kong or when he visits her during her semester abroad in Hangzhou, China, is marred by criticism, arguments, and hurt feelings. But when her father develops liver disease, the narrator is suddenly faced with the reality that she and her father may never have the opportunity to fill in the gaps of their relationship. Woven throughout are stories from the narrator's mother and grandmother, whose tales about their family provide both historical context and levity. The bracing fragments and poignant vignettes come together to make a stunning and evocative whole.