Today I’m reviewing Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung.
Title: Ghost Forest
Author: Pik-Shuen Fung
Publisher: One World
Number of Pages: 272
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Age Category: Adult
Date Published: July 13, 2021
Buy the Book: Amazon
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 stays there to work, while the rest of the family immigrated to Canada before the 1997 Handover, when the British returned sovereignty over Hong Kong to China.
As she revisits memories of her father through 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.
I read this book for one of the book clubs I’m in. I’m glad this was the pick of the month for May because this is a book that would not have come across my radar otherwise.
This short book, reads almost like a memoir or a diary, even though it’s fiction. It follows the main character, who is unnamed, who is reflecting after her father dies. The main character grew up in Vancouver, Canada, while her father stayed in Hong Kong. The relationship between the main character and her father was full of ups and downs, and this is the kind of book that makes you think and reflect on your own life.
I liked the formatting of this book. The story was told in little vignettes. The vignettes weren’t necessarily connected, but together they told the whole story of the relationship between the main character and her father. There were a handful of vignettes told from the perspective of the main character’s mother and grandmother, which I really enjoyed.
This book had a small pockets of humour all throughout. Little comments and moments that made me smirk or even laugh a little. I appreciated these moments because they brought some light to an otherwise heavier book.
I also liked that art played a role in this story. I liked learning about the art that the main character was studying. I also liked that art was a theme that ran throughout the story.
Overall, this is the kind of book that you want to sit with for a bit. It’s easy to fly through because it’s so short, but it’s worth taking your time with to let everything sink in. It’s different, in a good way, and I’m glad I gave it a try.