What constitutes a ‘proper’ or ‘acceptable’ relationship has long been an important moral question in East Asian society; it is in the genetic code of the culture. In their efforts to maintain appropriate relationships, people, especially women, suffer from the pain caused by repressed lust and hidden desires. In these eight stories, single career women looking for love to married middle-age women tempted by lust must conceal their feelings and desires, the things they cannot disclose openly, and that make them ashamed. They find themselves transgressing social norms simply by making honest choices, whether they are in Taiwan, China or America. Their struggles are as much internal as external, a reflection of the contradiction between an individual’s choices and the outside world’s expectations, which are often internalised. The result is a collection of stories that surprises as well as resonates in their inner conflicts.
Having spent many years living abroad, Belinda Chang’s writing displays a sharpness of observation and a different perspective from most of her peers in Taiwan. Her characters are rooted in their different settings and yet speak across borders with a universally shared humanity.