“…Even with her hands over her ears, Poppy hears voices…Through her twenties, the other abilities had intensified: now she can hear the people crying out from their graves or back from the future, and can sniff out a person’s secrets.”
Welcome to the wistful, image-ridden, seductive, inspiring, and destructive world of Chinese immigrants living in a small California town in the early 1900s. Meet characters who dare to dream big and find pleasure only in ephemeral moments, such as sexual connections or the drama following the arrival of two strange Chinese women. Each character’s story weaves between the past and present, such as Richard Fong’s vision of starting his own gambling business. How surprised he will be by the arrival of his wife, Ming Wai, whom he has not seen in many, many years? Chloe, a teenage white prostitute, describes the horrific outcome of a New York visit and the acceptance she found here. Or perhaps one might be intrigued by the preacher and his wife who shelter the Chinese newcomers and hear their “stories,” knowing well that who they are in this town is all that really matters for the well-being of all. And what does a terrible disaster mean for those who died and those who survive?
The stories in Locke 1928 are uniquely portrayed by this very talented writer. Vivid and surreal imagery of water, fire, and air parallels the changing world of Chinese immigrants trying to forge a new world that entices and frightens them by turn. Ryan’s evocative descriptions are poetic, elucidating how these proud, strong men and women see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and dream America. A beautiful first novel.