Ghost Forest

Maya Somogyi Reviews "Ghost Forest"

Ghost Forest is a story about a daughter struggling to reconnect to her astronaut father in Hong Kong while her family has long since immigrated to Vancouver. Between a forgotten language, separate cultures, and two long lives spent on different continents, the narrator struggles to reconnect with her father. It doesn’t help that the narrator can’t seem to earn her father’s love no matter what she tries, whether that’s studying Chinese painting or insisting he says those three little words. By the time the narrator has graduated from university, the only thing they share seems to be the memories of a time when they knew how to love each other.

Is your father still your father when he doesn’t love you for who you are? When you don’t share the same culture anymore? In sobering and ecstatically beautiful prose, Pik-Shuen Fung tells a story of loss and generational trauma through the narrator. The writing is beautiful, with short, profound paragraphs and such heartfelt scenes that it leaves the reader breathless under the weight of the narrator’s grief. Fung’s compact, vivid writing is wrackingly emotional and lands like a knife to the gut or else leaves the sweetest aftertaste. The narrator’s journey is heartbreaking and hopeful as she and the readers learn how life is made of distinct periods of happiness that end and cannot be returned to, much like her homeland and her alternate childhood within Hong Kong. The Chinese anecdotes the narrator’s mother shares serve as a link to the narrator’s original home, but also act as a reminder that her mother’s (and father’s) culture is not as inherent to her as it is to them.

This is a novel for diaspora, for third-culture kids and people with their family scattered between countries. In the same breath Fung asks, is reconnection possible, the novel insists that people will try, whether or not it is.
Maya Somogyi (she/her) is a writer from the Sunshine Coast, B.C.. She placed second for poetry in UVic’s 2023 On the Verge Contest and more of her work can be found in the /t3mz/ Review. Currently, she’s working toward a BA for Writing and English Honours. She serves as Director of Social Media for This Side of West.
Maya Somogyi