Monday, April 02, 2012

New This Week: Floating Like the Dead by Yasuko Thanh

In 2009, Yasuko Thanh won the coveted Journey Prize for “Floating Like the Dead,” the title story of her debut collection, published this week by McClelland & Stewart. Like most of the stories collected here, the title piece deals with outcasts, expats and people otherwise outside of the mainstream in some way. Sometimes the distance is emotional, though in the case of “Floating Like the Dead” it’s a physical remove: the story -- strangely moving, distinctly compelling -- is about a leper colony off Canada’s west coast near the beginning of the 20th century.

Thanh’s writing is exploratory, capricious and memorable. And also, for a writer at this stage in her career, it’s quite celebrated. In addition to the $10,000 Journey prize, she’s been a finalist for some of Canada’s most significant awards for short fiction. A novel, Teddy’s Blow-Off Attraction, is complete but no announcement has been made. But the existence of the book is a comfort: once you’ve read Floating Like the Dead you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll be able to hear more of Thanh’s quirky, resonant in the not-too-distance future. ◊

India Wilson is a writer and artist.

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