Dear Chrysanthemums: A Novel in Stories

Asian women who reckon with the past, violence, and exile

A debut collection of linked short stories by Fiona Sze-Lorrainset in Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Paris, and New York.

Composed of several interconnected stories, each taking place in a year ending with the number six, ironically a number that in Chinese divination signifies “a smooth life,” Dear Chrysanthemums is a novel about the scourge of inhumanity, survival, and past trauma that never leaves. The women in these stories are cooks, musicians, dancers, protestors, mothers and daughters, friends and enemies, all inexplicably connected in one way or another.

“Cooking for Madam Chiang,” 1946: Two cooks work for Madame Chiang Kai-shek and prepare a foreign dish craved by their mistress, which becomes a political weapon and leads to their tragic end.

“Death at the Wukang Mansion,” 1966: Punished for her extramarital affair, a dancer is transferred to Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution and assigned to an ominous apartment in a building whose other residents often depart in coffins.

“The White Piano,” 1966: A bidding pianist from New York City settles down in Paris and is assaulted when a mysterious piano arrives from Singapore.

“The Invisible Window,” 2016: After their exile following the Tiananmen Square massacre, three women gather in a French cathedral to renew their friendship and reunite in their grief and faith.

… an evocative and disturbing portrait of diasporic life, the shared story of uprooting, resilience, artistic expression, and enduring love.

(adapted from Harvard.com)

More about this collection

The collection’s Goodreads page

Official website of the author – Fiona Sze-Lorrain

The author is a poet and a musician as well as a writer and on her website you can find examples of her work!

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