Cover Image: Ghost Forest

Ghost Forest

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Member Reviews

Ghost Forest is told in reflections and fleeting moments. In Polaroid pictures and whispers. It's a story about immigration and marking time in plane trips. Thoughtful and tender, Ghost Forest remembers empty dinner tables and words we speak without thinking. It feels almost like a memoir and showcases a series of moments. If you love books about the gears of families that seem to crash against each other and move seamlessly.
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An affecting and original family tale that unfolds themes of identity, grief, and love, and culture.
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I've never read a book quite like this before. Ghost Forest is a series of beautiful, lyrical meditations on grief in all its tangible and intangible forms. Told through brief, striking vignettes, we piece together how the narrator navigates through losing her father and the words left unsaid in their relationship. The format made it easy for me to get lost at times, but that could also be due to the fact that I read this in an ebook format. Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC!
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This is a sentimental and lyrically written short novel about a young Chinese-Canadian’s struggle with emotion and thought. As we read and listen, our protagonist works through her family’s strict Chinese traditions and how their move to Canada permanently affected her relationship with her somewhat estranged father.
With minimal words, she reflects on her childhood, her mother and grandmother’s youth, her father’s long struggle with illness, and the strict traditions of Chinese burial. Very sensitive, with bare-bones feelings, and honest and open prose, this is a book you want to quietly hug when you finish.
Sincere thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date is July 13, 2021.
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I loved Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung.  In clean, simple language, Fung captures the time that her family moved from Hong Kong to Vancouver.  Her father was an "astronaut father" who chose to continue working in manufacturing in Hong Kong rather than to start over with an uncertain job in Canada,  Fung's short descriptions of her family and their experiences were beautifully done and conveyed the difficulty of immigration so well.  While the cultures and experiences and style differ, Ghost Forest had the same strong and unforgettable impact of "The House on Mango Street." 

The scenes of her father's stay in the hospital and their conversations stayed with me for a long time. I, too, have a father in Asia and have lived in the US for many years. Pik-Shuen Fung captured the emotions and reality of the complicated parent-child relationship.  Reading Ghost Forest has me thinking more and more about my father and how to strengthen our tie. 

 I hope that Ghost Forest will be as well shared and as beloved among readers in the future.
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A vignette exists as both an imagistic term and a literary one. It is both that “photographic portrait, showing only the… head and shoulders” as well as “a brief verbal description of a person, place, etc.” If these are two of the word’s definitions, then Ghost Forest is informed by the principles of both of them.

Ghost Forest is a slim collection of a hundred or so written vignettes, most no more than two pages long, about a family with an oft-absent “Astronaut” father who shuttles between Hong Kong and Canada, where the narrator lives. The narrator is also an artist, a serious student of Chinese art and calligraphy which differs from conventional art in that it values “empty space”. These ideas of brevity, absence, and portraiture inherent in both the literary and imagistic vignette inform the entire work, which ultimately functions as a portrait of the narrator’s father. 

What are the characteristics of a vignette? What is its purpose? This book suggests that the vignette has enormous power: to illuminate a thing the way a streak of light in the sky illuminates, to make and leave a scene with questions still glimmering at the edges, to assemble a hundred different glances at a thing as an alternative mode of both novel-writing and portraiture. Some of the most wonderful portions of the novel occur when the narrator speaks about the ethos behind ink painting, particularly of bamboo: the fewness of the strokes, their assuredness, their masculinity. In this particular vignette, an aside about a 13th century female painter, Fung notes that for the painter, the act of painting itself can be a transgressive act, one that goes against both culture and gender. So is the narrator’s act of wrenching these oral histories from her mother and grandmother, and putting them to paper. But it is also worthwhile, the thrust of the thing, the grasping, the gnarled effort. 

This book is a work of an artist (Fung studied visual art at Brown University and SVA) who has honed her craft and applied the principles of her art to writing. A really lovely read.

Thank you to NetGalley for an e-galley! 
Full review on Entropy mag: 
https://entropymag.org/ghost-forest-pik-shuen-fung/
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Ghost Forest is an elegantly written novel about grief, love, and family. Interwoven with the stories of her grandmother and mother, the unnamed female narrator recounts her life and her complicated relationship with her "astronaut" father. 

In a family that is separated not just geographically, but also generationally and culturally, how does one cross these seemingly unbridgeable gaps? And in a family where emotions are not openly talked about, and where the simple words of "I love you" feel so strange to utter, how does one deal with grief, and how does one say goodbye?

The characters and emotions in Ghost Forest felt so honest and rang so true that I mistook this novel for nonfiction. The chapters are so well-crafted that despite being short in length, Pik-Shuen Fung was able to pack so much in them. And though the central themes of the story are quite heavy, the novel still has a lightness to it. 

This novel can be appreciated by a wide audience and resonate strongly with astronaut and immigrant families.
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The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it went by too quickly! This was a beautiful story of a family and grief told through short vignettes (sometimes a few pages but often only a few paragraphs), which made the book fly by. I can't wait to see what Fung writes next.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group and author Pik-Shuen Fung for gifting me with a digital ARC of Ghost Forest. In exchange I offer my unbiased review. 

This book is written in simple prose, mostly fragmented memories and recollections of a daughter’s adolescence as she immigrates from Hong Kong to Vancouver with her mother and grandparents. Her “astronaut father”, so called for he stays in China for economic reasons and only visits the family occasionally, leaves a large absence in her life. The times they do spend together are often uncomfortable and awkward as neither knows how to communicate with the other. When he passes away, his daughter’s grief is insurmountable for all the ways they were lost to each other. 

Potential was there, but for me it was a little too detached stylistically. I found certain passages relatable and kept reminding myself this was fiction, although I’ll wager anything this was autobiographical. 
If you are a fan of Jenny Offill’s writing or enjoy books that are more stream of conciseness then this debut will win you over. While I wasn’t completely wowed by the prose, the cover art blew me away. Truly a spectacular piece of art and one that will appeal to everyone.
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I really enjoyed this. 

It was fairly quiet and unassuming story about family, love and grief. The writing style was simple but poignant. What hits you is everything that is not written. This is often the case between loved ones in Asian families. There is so much that we don't say and so much that we take for granted. Then imagine what happens when you lose a close family member. It is such a specific experience, and each page really resonated with my immigrant parents' experience. Not only do we get the history of the main character's parents, but the parents' histories as well. So much of who are are is affected by the generations before us. They follow us like ghosts. I gave 4 stars because some of the genealogies were a little confusing. It wasn't always clear whose story and history we were following.
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Fung tells the struggles of living in a Chinese Canadian family with a father who is distant for the majority of the protagonists life through a series of short essays. As a Chinese Canadian, I related a lot to the protagonist. There are many unspoken rules in Chinese culture. One of them being that you never ever say I love you to your parents, your father especially. It really isn't ever uttered between family members. Love, often in correlation to respect, is shown more through your actions of addressing your elders and serving others before yourself at the dinner table. When a loved one is terminally ill, you downplay the severity of their condition to their loved ones in order to prevent them from worrying.

If you enjoyed the movie The Farewell, then you'll enjoy this novel.
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GHOST FOREST is a moving story of grief. The unnamed narrator recounts the story of her relationship with her father through many vignettes. Her family moves from Hong Kong to Canada in advance of the British handover. After the family settles in, her father goes back to Hong Kong to work, becoming one of many "astronaut" fathers. She only sees him a few times a year. Much of the vignettes highlight her father's decline in health and impending death, but she also provides the reader with earlier snapshots of their life together. The title of the book is taken from a piece of artwork she painted that her father provides a sharp criticism of. This really is a touching book of reconciling conflicting emotions, especially when one's family is not known for expressing emotion. The concept of telling someone they love them is a foreign concept. These short images and conversions that Pik-Shuen Fung writes about are thought-provoking and I hope many others are able to reflect on this novel as well.

Thank you to NetGalley and One World Books for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.
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📚Book 25 0f 2021: Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

🗣Who is this for: Anyone who is trying to navigate through grief

💬Reader’s Digest Version: Told in short vignettes, the author recounts her early childhood as an immigrant from Hong Kong to Vancouver Canada. Her father stayed behind in Hong Kong to ensure he could continue to provide for his family. This book details Pik-Shuen Fung’s grieving process after the loss of her father, a man she had a complicated relationship with. Along with her complex relationship with her father…throw in a family that does not make a practice of displaying emotion, topped with navigating the intricacies of honoring your family’s ancient traditions in the context of a more modern world, and you get a complicated and beautiful story about love, loss, and growing together through shared pain. 

🏃🏻‍♀️My Take: I loved this book. It broke my heart. It made me laugh. It was poetic and strikingly simple all at the same time. The author’s experience of her father’s death struck close to home for me. Death is unpredictable. It is ugly. And we aren’t always ready for it. We don’t all get to go in a peaceful way. Sometimes death is synonymous with great suffering. It is not as romantic as it is often presented in books and movies. The aftermath is also complicated. An endless spiral of what ifs, and why didn’t i’s, and if I would have just…haunt you incessantly. This book helped me feel less alone in my feelings about death. Even if we had the chance to have that person back, if we had one more day, the most poignant thing we could do is simply say “I love you.” In the end, that’s all that matters. This book was a gift, and I could not recommend it more. 

Ghost Forest will be available July 13th of this year, but you can preorder it pretty much anywhere! Big thanks to @netgalley and @oneworldbooks for the ARC ❤️

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

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This was a wonderful portrayal of grief. The stories are quiet yet poignant, and they will definitely stay with me. This was beautifully written and heartbreaking.
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Beautifully written a heart wrenching story of the life of a Chinese family.The search for parental love the daughters always searching for the fathers love.Their lives away from their birth home of Hong Kong  leaving their father there to work living in Vancouver seeking a better education,.The prose is so beautiful lyrical the emotions so raw.A book that will stay with you long after the final pages the final scenes.A very gifted author this debut novel will become a classic, #netgalley#randomhouse .
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GHOST FOREST: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Poetic and sparse, the writing wraps itself around you like the whisks of smoke after you blow out a candle.
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Great book about a family where the dad lives in Hong Kong while the rest of the family doesn't. A real,. honest seeming peek into a way of life that is common in many parts of the world. I felt like the writing was spare but effective.
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Ghost Forest is an honest portrayal of the difficulties around immigrant family structures and grief. Our unnamed protagonist recounts their childhood as she struggles to have a relationship with her "astronaut" father. (In this context meaning a parent that sent their family a head of them to another country while they live and work in their home country; They are called astronauts because they're always flying back and forth.) As she gets older she has some opportunities to reconnect with her father as she moves back to Hong Kong for short periods of time but the relationship is already too strained. When her father gets sick she comes back and starts to think back on family and what that means in a modern global context. Through her grief she begins to understand, forgive, and wish for more time again.
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Fung writes a haunting memoir here, complete with all that is said and unsaid within a family before/during/after the loss of her father. I could feel not only the intergenerational tension within a family but also the insider/outsider feelings of immigrants to Canada and their "astronaut" father who stayed in Hong Kong.

It is likely I will read this again and savor it. I truly felt the narrator's anger at her father featured here even (and because?) he was dying. 

This is a memoir of ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. I think this way about the author, about her mother and grandmother who left Hong Kong to raise her and her sister, and most of all her father who supported them but lived a solitary and inflexible life until he got sick. 

Thank you to NG for the ARC.
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Beautiful story of love, loss and hope told through small vignettes. The novel is short but packs a punch, and as someone who grew up in Vancouver I really appreciated the author's connection there. I am looking forward to hearing more about this author, and hopefully this is not the end of their writing career!
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