The stories in Snow and Shadow are so, so bizarre, but in that delicious way that leaves you excited to discover what the author has come up with next. Grounded in reality yet dreamlike, each is surprisingly accessible. I was never left feeling lost or puzzled, though I did find I needed to take a little breather here and there, rather than read the collection straight through.
These stories show off Dorothy Tse’s endless creativity and originality. “Woman Fish” is a Kafkaesque story about feeling trapped after a major transformation. In “Leaf and Knife,” a couple competes with one another to prove their love in a senseless, ridiculous quest for the exciting, early stage of their relationship. “Traveling Family” is about relocation and finding one’s own definition of “home.” The title story, “Snow and Shadow,” is a horrifying fairy tale, complete with human faces sewn on animals. “Black Cat City” is more of a thriller with a mythological feel, about people losing their memories (its characters are cleverly named Recall, Memoria, Prolongia).
Translated from the original Chinese by Nicky Harman, Dorothy Tse’s short story collection is challenging and provocative. Sometimes terrifying, often surreal, always containing hidden truths, these stories give each reader plenty of room to come away with his or her own interpretation. Fans of Aimee Bender, Tessa Mellas, or the stories in xo Orpheus will want to be sure to grab a copy of Snow and Shadow.