REVIEW #38 | “Cranesong” by Rona Wang (eARC)

Title: “Cranesong”

Author: Rona Wang

Pages (eBook): 83 pages

Expected Publishing Date: 13 February 2019

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Half Mystic Press’ debut short story collection is, above all, a bright thing. Cranesong explores the trauma that haunts our bones, the echoes that infuse our language—and, at the same time, lingers inside wild wind, consumes the cartography of longing, interrogates all the colors piano music can hold. These stories pinwheel from realm to realm—some fantastical, some deeply modern, and some settling somewhere in between. Yet there is an ancestral lineage that braids them together. These characters don’t exist in the same world, but if they did, perhaps they’d recognize each other.

“The stories in Cranesong are the stories I’ve been waiting to read my entire life. They are the girlhood secrets, untranslatable sorrows, and quiet violences that often surround us but never quite catch our attention until they’re told by a writer like Rona Wang, whose words will uplift you just as much as they will shatter you.” —Erin O’Malley, 2018 Lambda Literary fellow and editor of The Ellis Review

Pre-order “Cranesong” on Amazon!

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel (sorted into each short story):

Style

  • character death
  • car accident
  • internalized ableism

The Evolution of Wings

  • suicide attempt

Seeking

  • allusions to rape

The Girl in the Rice Paddies

  • character death
  • brief description of a corpse

Wu Daozi Dreaming

  • blood

How to Be Badass

  • blood

Liv, Liv, Lipstick Liar

  • xenophobia

The Art of Acceptance

  • racism
  • xenophobia
  • character death

Dissonance

  • N/A

Representation in the novel (sorted into each short story):

  • Before I go down each short story, I’ll make the blanket statement here: every single short story has an East Asian main character and side characters. Some of them I couldn’t quite catch on which nationality/ethnicity, but there were for sure Korean, Japanese, and Chinese characters. So if there’s “East Asian MC” please note that I just didn’t catch where in particular the main character is from.

Style

  • f/f relationship
  • sapphic MC

The Evolution of Wings

  • Chinese MC

Seeking

  • East Asian MC

The Girl in the Rice Paddies

  • East Asian MC
  • East Asian side characters

Wu Daozi Dreaming

  • East Asian MC
  • East Asian side characters

How to Be a Badass

  • East Asian MC
  • East Asian side characters

Liv, Liv, Lipstick Liar

  • undocumented Chinese MC

The Art of Acceptance

  • Chinese MC
  • Japanese side characters

Dissonance

  • East Asian MC

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

I received a copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, it’s technically still the 11th, so I’m still sticking to the blog tour schedule.

Anyway…y’all. This was amazing. I loved this short story collection, and I can’t wait for more from Rona Wang!

Cranesong is a short story collection that not only features a wide variety of genres and diversity (all East Asian main characters? a sapphic girl and f/f romance? yes, please), but all the stories tie together in a broad theme: trauma. Different types of trauma, whether it’s that of a car accident or being caught shoplifting when being an undocumented person, are explored throughout the book, in all of the stories.

It was really interesting to see how different genres tied in with everything, too: while there were mostly contemporary and historical fiction short stories, I distinctly remember an urban fantasy(/possibly magical realism?) story and a more fantasy/fairy tale-esque story. The more fantastical stories were a nice touch, I must say.

All around, I thought the writing was amazing. It was very fun to read, and I loved all of it. It was a quick read for me, but that does not mean it has any lesser value: I just wanted to get through to see what happens next.

Overall, I thought this anthology was great. If you are a fan of short stories and/or are interested in reading about trauma in prose, I would definitely recommend this!

Now, here are all my individual star ratings of each story. They don’t have their own reviews simply because of the number and length of them (some of them were pretty short, and I don’t know how to give a review of that).

Breakdown:

Style:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

The Evolution of Wings:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

Seeking:

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

The Girl in the Rice Paddies:

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

Wu Daozi Dreaming:

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

How to Be a Badass:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

Liv, Liv, Lipstick Liar:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

The Art of Acceptance:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

Dissonance:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

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