About the book:
Stephanie Han’s award-winning stories cross the borders and boundaries of Hong Kong, Korea, and the United States. This is an intimate look at those who dare to explore the geography of hope and love, struggle with dreams of longing and home, and wander in the myths of memory and desire.
Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong won the Paterson Fiction Prize, and was the finalist for both the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction and the Spokane Prize. She is City University of Hong Kong’s first English literature PhD. She lives in Hawaii, home of her family since 1904.
Advance praise for Swimming in Hong Kong by Stephanie Han
Swimming in Hong Kong is a fine debut. Han captures a host of young people caught in the complexities of global identity with easy authority; the result rings with authenticity and feeling.
~ Gish Jen, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self
Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong features precise and subtle meditations on cross-cultural experiences, from Asian Americans in the Midwest and Asia to women negotiating male-dominated worlds. Han gracefully traverses a complicated terrain fraught with the politics of race, sex, class, gender, and culture. Readers will be grateful for having spent time with these quiet and insightful stories.
~ Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer, Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
In this poignant, bitter-sweet, sometimes playful, collection, Swimming In Hong Kong, the characters are in search of home, identity, love, respect. They are mostly from China, Korea, and other countries, with some connections to the U.S. Their interactions and intermingling are often full of confusion and misunderstanding as they deal with issues of history, culture, religion, family, displacement, identity. The reader is enlightened as the characters try to cope with complex issues in their lives. The settings are full of striking details. The tone and voice, are varied and engaging.
~ Nahid Rachlin, Judge of the 2015 AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction
Lovely, searing emotions course through the stories in Swimming in Hong Kong as Stephanie Han beautifully explores the intersection of longing and ethnicity. Her characters achingly search for connections across societal and racial barriers, struggling to discover love across stereotype, desire without fetish.
~ Trey Ellis, Platitudes and Home Repairs.
Our language when spoken is invisible. When we write, our words are visible, our stories are visible. Stephanie Han works this line between visibility and invisibility, between anonymity and naming for the Korean and Korean American characters in this collection with such subtle force that we find that boundaries and borders were moved when we were silently reading to ourselves. Han’s powerful narrative voice doesn’t tell you what it is you don’t know, especially if you’re the colonizer feeling at home.
~ Shawn Wong, American Knees and Homebase
Stephanie Han is a gifted storyteller who channels the voices of those living on the margins, between cultures, and across borders with rare understanding and skill. In this stunning collection, she dissects the psychology of voluntary migration, forced exile, and loneliness with the sharpest of forensic tools. From an expatriate wife who believes herself invisible in color and race conscious Hong Kong to the immigrant manicurist with a tragic past in a Koreatown Stateside, Swimming in Hong Kong offers up a cast of characters who must make their way in the world to find what they need in order to survive. The vulnerabilities, flaws, neuroses, desperation, and madness of human beings left to fend for themselves on bitter and foreign soil are laid bare with quiet, charged precision. I am full of admiration for this writer and her impressive gifts.
~ Gail Vida Hamburg, The Edge of the World
Stephanie Han shows us the world, especially the world of sex and romance, through the eyes of mostly women of Korean descent but of various ages and backgrounds. Sometimes savvy, and sometimes so vulnerable and naive that we cringe for them, these are characters readers will find themselves rooting for.
~ Elaine H. Kim, Professor of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, UC Berkeley
At the crossroads of culture, at the intersection of being an insider and an outsider in both the US and Asia, the stories in Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong shimmer with a mordant wit, a sly humor, and an oblique sadness…At once novel and familiar, political and personal, these stories resonate with the kind of questions and truths that anyone who has ever felt out of his or her element will immediately understand.
~ Vanina Marsot, Foreign Tongue and The Circassian Woman
Compelling, moving and keenly observed, Swimming in Hong Kong is the work of a brilliant writer with a sharp eye for uncomfortable truths.
~ Julie Koh, Portable Curiosities and editor of BooksActually’s Gold Standard
Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong captures the struggle of living between cultures and between identities. Like the people in WG Sebald’s books, Stephanie’s characters live in exile and don’t quite know what to do with themselves. Filled with humor and heartbreak, these stories always feel true and smart. Stephanie achieves an emotional honesty we rarely see in contemporary fiction.
~ Jason Brooks Brown, author Driving the Heart and Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work