Au excels at inhabiting the minds and hearts of children and the elderly. In the title story, Sophie Chu dresses daily in her increasingly shabby elephant costume to ensure her missing parents recognize her upon their return. In “The Unfed,” a village elder seeks to revive, with her dimming magic, a mountain community struck by tragedy. “Louise” follows, with deceptive hilarity (involving a one-eyed duck), the nuanced give and take between May Zhou and Lai, dissimilar yet passionate partners considering parenthood. The volume also offers sparkling speculative work that taps into the strength of nature—fox spirits and fire beetles, swollen rivers and rippling clouds—to showcase the sometimes surreal transformations of Au’s protagonists.
Spider Love Song and Other Stories treads the fault line that forms between lovers, families, friends, cultures—exposing injuries and vulnerabilities, but also the strength and courage necessary to recast resentment and anger into wonder and power. Au’s lyrical style, humor, and tender attention to her characters’ fancies and failings make this powerful debut a delight to read.
About the Author
— Jennifer S. Cheng, author of House A and Moon: Letters, Maps, Poems
— Muriel Leung, author of Bone Confetti
— May-lee Chai, author of Useful Phrases for Immigrants: Stories and Dragon Chica: A Novel
— Peg Alford Pursell, author of A Girl Goes into the Forest
— Carolina De Robertis, author of Cantoras
— Starred Review
— Terry Hong
— Joe Ponepinto