Deceit and Other Possibilities
In this powerful debut collection, Vanessa Hua gives voice to immigrant families navigating a new America. Tied to their ancestral and adopted homelands in ways unimaginable in generations past, these memorable characters straddle both worlds but belong to none.
From a Hong Kong movie idol fleeing a sex scandal, to an obedient daughter turned Stanford imposter, to a Chinatown elder summoned to his village, to a Korean-American pastor with a secret agenda, the characters in these ten stories vividly illustrate the conflict between self and society, tradition and change. In “What We Have is What We Need,” winner of The Atlantic student fiction prize, a boy from Mexico reunites with his parents in San Francisco. When he suspects his mother has found love elsewhere, he fights to keep his family together.
With insight and wit, she writes about what wounds us and what we must survive. Her searing stories explore the clash of cultures and the complex, always shifting allegiances that we carry in ourselves, our family, and our community. DECEIT AND OTHER POSSIBILITIES marks the emergence of a remarkable new writer.
Vanessa Hua inhabits in graceful and heartbreaking detail the people of her stories: strivers and betrayers, lovers and the landless, all of them on their way to transcendence in her hands.
– SUSAN STRAIGHT, author of Between Heaven and Here and Highwire Moon
Fast-paced, dazzling, smart, and fun, Vanessa Hua's debut collection illustrates the insanities and heartbreaks on both sides of the Pacific.
– GARY SHTEYNGART, author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story
Deceit and Other Stories gives us characters whose lives are constrained and yet also enriched by different borders, cultures, and traditions. A bracing and beautiful debut, full of fire and light.
–LAILA LALAMI, author of The Moor's Account
Complicated, cosmopolitan and utterly contemporary, Deceit and Other Possibilities is a richly enjoyable collection. Hua is expert at creating both empathy and suspense whether it's in the emptiness of a national park or the crowded space of an international flight. These stories will jump right off the page into the reader's imagination.
–MARGOT LIVESEY, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy and Mercury
–O, The Oprah Magazine
"The men, women and children in Hua’s moving debut often find themselves straddling the volatile fault lines between desire and shame, decorum and rage… She has a deep understanding of the pressure of submerged emotions and polite, face-saving deceptions. The truth comes out, sometimes explosively, sometimes in a quiet act of courage.”
"Vanessa [Hua] is such a great writer, and subversively funny…she’s got this wicked absurd sense of humor. She writes a lot about these characters that don’t look anything like ‘model minorities’… it’s so readable and human.”
"These 10 stories follow immigrants to a new America who straddle the uncomfortable line between past and present, allegiances old and new.”
–The Millions “most anticipated list” for the second half of 2016
“An intriguing collection...each of her protagonists is never quite grounded, caught between multiple cultures and countries. Each hides beneath layers of deceit, clinging to lies that enable survival....Hua is a writer to watch.”
“Exactly what we need to be reading in this country right now; and probably always. Zeroing in on a myriad of different immigration stories…this collection is funny and sad, quick-witted and thought provoking.”
–Bustle, 26 Best Literary Debuts By Women in the Last 5 years
"Rare and generous."
"This thought-provoking debut collection gives voice to immigrant families navigating a new America. These authentic and moving stories about racially diverse characters depict them trying to straddle two worlds while belonging to neither. Hua’s detached, wry observations make for compelling read and is a contemporary portrayal of life of a migrant."
"Evocative...The brightest, unifying factor for the characters in all Hua's stories are, as the collection's title suggests, a trust in America's possibility—the future, however complicated and non-binary, is within our hands, her characters reassure us. And given current geopolitical currents this is a needed, and welcome, prophecy indeed."
"Readers will feel hijacked by the lines that follow in Deceit and Other Possibilities....Hua shows how immigrant families plead, persuade, adapt, and embrace their heritage."
“Hua writes with sophistication and the punch of the immigrant experience today…exuberant stories filled with nuance and fresh detail.”
"Profoundly moving, and impossible to forget...a truly impressive debut."
"The immigration conversation starter that this election needs"
"Gazes through the lens of recent immigrants to examine family relationships in all their beauty and complexity...pointed, memorable tales."
"The stories here are filled with desperate, confused, liminal people making questionable life choices...what lies at the core of the book is the unhappiness that tends to follow secrets and betrayal..It’s a hard lesson learned, and one that most of the characters…eventually take to heart.”
–The Spine, KQED
“The stories Hua presents are remarkably varied — complicating blanket stereotypes about ethnic cultures…Those kinds of subtle contradictions between overlapping identities — and the compromise they require — are what Hua's stories pinpoint and gracefully unravel.”
"Heart-wrenching, implacable....the characters within feel so human and in need of being heard....Hua draws the reader in with her power of perception. "
"Family, loyalty, love, lust: Vanessa Hua does justice to the big themes in this noteworthy debut...she writes her subjects’ stories as they must be told. Their choices, no matter how detrimental, are portrayed with understanding. And their deceptions, however dishonest, feel like the truth."
"In time Vanessa Hua will be a writer to whom up-and-coming storytellers are compared....it feels less like a debut and more like the effort of a seasoned and well-established master."
"Wry observations...compelling read"
"A wonderful sense of modernity...Hua is a writer to watch"
"Beautifully written, engaging, modern and insightful...a marvelous read!"
"A shattered mirror reflecting to us the broken face of the contemporary world.”
"In these stories Hua presents an impressive range of specific characters, each illumination in unique circumstances...the struggle to affirm identity....we can't entirely control how other people see us, just as we can't entirely control how we see ourselves."
"One of those books I wanted to gulp down...Hua's storytelling feels extremely personal, yet not limited to her own experience."
"Fascinating storytelling...elegant and smart."
"An insightful glimpse into the immigrant experience."
–Bloom, Anticipated Autumn Releases
"Some of these characters may make us want to turn away, but Hua finds a way to humanize all of them."
"Vivid, complex..heartbreaking, memorable."
10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in September 2016, Oakland Public Library
Hua’s thoughtful use of themes, such as scandal, transit and redemption… expand and dramatize the connections between Asian diasporic characters as complex, mobile and at turns hilariously and painfully human.
–JUDGES’ NOTE, San Francisco Foundation, James D. Phelan Award for Fiction
"A wonderful collection...I'm excited to see what she has coming out next."
–The Lit Up Show, Episode 69
Cover image and author photo available upon request.
WINNER OF THE ASIAN/PACIFIC AWARD FOR LITERATURE, FINALIST FOR THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD, AND THE WILLOW BOOKS LITERATURE AWARDS GRAND PRIZE
El Cerrito, One City/One Book Pick
Peddie School, Sophomore Class Read