This month in our Goodreads challenge, the theme is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. Our challenge this month was to read a work by an Asian/Pacific-American author. Also this month is the much anticipated release of Solo: A Star Wars Story. So, to stay on theme with our Goodreads challenge and the release of Solo, our book recommendation this month is science-fiction novel Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai.
Larissa Lai is an American-born Chinese-Canadian woman. Her works include novels such as When Fox is a Thousand (1995), Salt Fish Girl (2002), and her upcoming novel The Tiger Flu, which is set to be published this coming fall. She also writes poetry, chapbooks, and non-fiction. Lai’s works commonly explore themes of personal identity in reference to race, gender, and sexuality. Her novels often draw heavy inspiration from Chinese culture and mythology, always having a strong focus on feminism. As a Chinese-Canadian/American woman and open lesbian, her work offers unique perspective on the themes of feminism, gender identity, and sexuality.
Salt Fish Girl very much reflects the themes that Lai writes about so eloquently. It is a split perspective narrative that follows ancient Chinese deity Nu-Wu, who chooses to become one of the humans that she herself created and ends up falling in love with a girl who sells salt fish at the market. The second narrative follows a young girl named Miranda who lives in the Pacific Northwest in the 2040’s and has a strange condition that makes her skin smell like Durian fruit. The settings, split between 19th century China and futuristic United States, along with the two amazing female protagonists, beautifully intertwine in ways that the reader would not expect. If you are a fan of science-fiction or magical realism, you should definitely give this unique novel a read.
Here is a quote from the novel to get you hooked!:
“How easily we abandon those who have suffered the same persecutions as we have. How quickly we grow impatient with their inability to transcend the conditions of our lives. ”
― Larissa Lai,