12 Sep / Last of Her Name: A Novella & Stories by Mimi Lok [in Booklist]
As co-founding (with Dave Eggers) executive director of the human rights and oral history organization, Voice of Witness, Mimi Lok channels her intimate observation of human relationships into an astute first story collection. The titular story features a dual narrative of extreme circumstances as experienced by a teenage daughter who’s assaulted in 1980s England and dovetailed with her mother’s tribulations as a girl in 1941 Hong Kong as WWII looms. Most affecting is “The Woman in the Closet,” about an elderly woman who, discarded by her son and daughter-in-law, wanders through successive homeless tent villages until furtively settling into the closet of an oblivious stranger’s home.
Other standouts include “The Wrong Dave,” in which an engaged British architect begins receiving emails from a wedding crasher he met briefly in Hong Kong and who might have mistaken him for someone else. Dave’s fiancée may or may not be the same Mayling in “Bad Influence,” which is about an estranged brother’s overnight reunion with his sister.
Through eight provocative stories, Lok’s sharp gaze transforms disconnection and longing with compelling results.