"The most common word in Chinese, perhaps, a ubiquitous syllable people utter and hear all the time, which is supposed to mean good. But what is hao in this world, where good books are burned, good people condemned, meanness considered a good trait, violence good conduct? People say hao when their eyes are marred with suspicion and dread. They say hao when they are tattered inside."
By turns reflective and visceral, the stories in Hao examine the ways in which women can be silenced as they grapple with sexism and racism, and how they find their own language to define their experience.
In “Gold Mountain,” a young mother hides above a ransacked store during the San Francisco anti-Chinese riot of 1877. In “A Drawer,” an illiterate mother invents a language through drawing. And in “Stars,” a graduate student loses her ability to speak after a stroke. Together, these twelve stories create "an unsettling, hypnotic collection spanning centuries, in which language and children act simultaneously as tethers and casting lines, the reasons and the tools for moving forward after trauma. You’ll come away from this beautiful book changed” (Julia Fine, author of The Upstairs House).
"That language must be used precisely to have power feels both obvious and too often overlooked, but in Ye Chun's Hao, we're shown not only the continually precise and gorgeous renderings of words and phrases, but the power this can have to conjure specific ways of being, to argue against so many silent violences, and to feel like its own type of taking care. Each of these stories is an individual world brought to life fully by the particularity of its language, by Ye's extraordinarily far-reaching and deeply felt imagination, combined with her consistently stunning acuity and control." —Lynn Steger Strong, author of Want
"Through everything the women in these stories confront—oppressive regimes, immigrant struggles, infertility, the pain of motherhood—the beauty of Ye Chun’s writing lifts them up. From loneliness and devastation, this exquisite collection fashions a tribute to human resilience and the solace of language." —Polly Rosenwaike, author of Look How Happy I'm Making You
"Ye Chun captures the complexities of human emotion with a fine chisel and poet's eye, moving deftly between themes of motherhood, loss and migration. Hao is a richly imagined, satisfying collection, one that invites you to stay, to linger and be moved." —Te-Ping Chen, author of Land of Big Numbers
"Few books capture the raw terror and exultation of motherhood, and of the implications of language itself, so gorgeously as this one. To say that Hao moved me doesn’t feel like enough: I felt changed on the other side of these magnificent stories. Hao is pure triumph." —Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson
"These beautiful, profound stories are love songs to a daughter, tirades against an unjust world, and, above all, radiant meditations on Chinese history and language. Each story builds on the last with brilliance, power, and page-turning racing energy. Surely this book will be among the best story collections of the year." —Deb Olin Unferth, author of Barn 8
"Hao is an unsettling, hypnotic collection spanning centuries, in which language and children act simultaneously as tethers and casting lines, the reasons and the tools for moving forward after trauma. You’ll come away from this beautiful book changed." —Julia Fine, author of The Upstairs House
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 11 members
This outstanding book travels across time and place to tell short, but vivid stories about language, loss, love, and so much more. The length of the stories does nothing to blunt the impact of the emotions that arise, and I am in awe of Ye Chun's ability to evoke feelings of such depth over and over again. Her writing went straight to my heart. Highly recommend.