Sometimes new love emerges from the remnants of old love; sometimes you can’t see where love begins because you’re looking at it from the inside.
Throughout her career, Tsao Hsiao-Ju has fashioned a distinctive “aesthetic of loneliness” by defying the conventions of the traditional romance novel. In Oh, and Happy Birthday she introduces a new formal innovation, presenting ten seemingly unconnected stories that are in fact deftly woven together in unexpected ways.
A vet finds one of his customers uncannily reminiscent of a girl he fell for in his grad student days. It’s not just the physical resemblance: both women are proud owners of a British bulldog. That first girl ended up marrying the artist she had always been secretly besotted with, but now it seems like fate is offering up another chance at love. Elsewhere, a famous blogger struggles with writer’s block for three years, until the day he crosses paths with a new editor. The nature of their online friendship allows him to open up to her in ways he never imagined possible, and with her encouragement he slowly begins to rediscover his passion for writing.
These are the chance encounters, the miraculous moments of fate, that stitch together the narratives of Oh, and Happy Birthday. With her trademark blend of perspicacity and readability, Tsao Hsiao Ju perfectly captures that moment at the inception of something that might just turn out to be love.