“Lu, Reshaping”
by Madeleine Thien
from the December 20, 2021 issue of The New Yorker

For some reason I thought that I had read something by Madeleine Thien before, but I don’t believe that is the case. She has published five books, starting with Simple Recipes in 2001, with her most recent being 2016’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing, and I have read none of them. Furthermore, I don’t think I’ve just gotten a glimpse at her work through a New Yorker story, as this is her first. It must just be that Do Not Say We Have Nothing was well received and beloved by many when it came out. It won both the Governor General’s Award and the Giller Prize and was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize, and the Rathbones Folio Prize (my, how prize names change over the years!). But I didn’t read it! If you read it, let me know if I should!

Or maybe this story will convince me to finally pick it up! From her interview with Deborah Treisman, Thien mentions that she has been working on this story for years, and from my glimpse at it I’m intrigued and excited to finally dip into Thien’s work.

There were three pages to go, and it was already past midnight. Lu had asked her big daughter to edit her report for tomorrow’s Purchasing meeting. This daughter, who was eleven, excelled at things like that.

“Mom,” the girl said, “why did you ask if a ghost hit the back of my head?”

“Oh, ha.”

They were whispering back and forth in two languages, the girl in English and Lu in Cantonese. Tomorrow was a school day, and Lu could guess what Husband would say if he woke up and found them still working.

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