Paige Clarke’s “She Is Haunted” is an exceptional collection of short stories that blend speculative fiction with everyday adversities and traumas. They entertain, challenge and move: sometimes devastatingly, sometimes satirically, and always inventively. They excavate themes of mortality, grief, loss, and identity.
In the opener, “Elizabeth Kubler-Ross,” a mother bargains with God to keep her unborn child. In my favourite of the 18 stories, “Gwendolyn Wakes,” we meet a super-efficient worker at a government department that provides relationship advice via surveys, who turns out to be as fallible as the rest of us when it comes to relationships.
Another standout, “A Woman in Love,” sees a woman who loses her dog in a divorce deciding to clone her pet as the solution to her woes. The titular “She Is Haunted” explores a ghost’s Chinese identity as she haunts her mother in order to better understand their family history.
I tend not to gravitate towards short stories. They’re too much like an appetizer, when all I want is a meal. But the quality of Clarke’s writing is undeniable. “She Is Haunted” is a triumphant collection. Each story is brilliantly unpredictable, and delineated with extraordinary prose.
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 2nd July 2021
Publisher: Allen & Unwin