* 2019 Openbook Award
* 2020 Taipei Book Fair Award
* 2020 Golden Tripod Award
Multiple disasters – a sister’s deadly car accident and a father’s cancer – tether a middle-aged woman to her family. Her sister’s boyfriend watches dreams of love pass him by. Placid exteriors mask tortured inner lives played out in this suburban apartment complex facing a mountain.
The sudden death of Yang Chi-yung’s elder sister in a car accident nearly destroys their parents. Unfortunately, it isn’t a final blow; her father is diagnosed with cancer only a few years later. While Chi-yung initially stayed at home to provide emotional support, her service comes to include more and more physical support – first for both parents, and then (after her father’s death) for her aging mother.
Although the middle-aged Chi-yung maintains an outward calm, her inner life has become tortured and fragile. Words easily turn into omens, and accidents into catastrophes. Life with her mother goes on in a state of hidden tension, the depths of which only she and the listening reader can begin to plumb.
At its very exterior, this novel depicts a still scene of an apartment building at the outskirts of Taipei that faces a small mountain, and the limited lives of a few people who live there. Yet the expanse of psychological territory it covers is nearly limitless; like Virginia Woolf writing To the Lighthouse – one of the greatest novels in English – about the middle-class family experience, author Chen Shu Yao utilizes a simple setting to frame a rich tapestry of inner experience.