Spirits Abroad



paperback, 288 pages

Published Aug. 9, 2021 by Small Beer Press.

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4 stars (6 reviews)

A Datin recalls her romance with an orang bunian. A teenage pontianak struggles to balance homework, bossy aunties, first love, and eating people. An earth spirit gets entangled in protracted negotiations with an annoying landlord, and Chang E spins off into outer space, the ultimate metaphor for the Chinese diaspora.

2 editions

Review of 'Spirits Abroad' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Ich dachte immer, ich mag keine Kurzgeschichten. Stellt sich raus, ich mag nur keine Kurzgeschichten, in denen Leute unglücklich verheiratet sind und die Handlung darin besteht, dass es draußen regnet oder jemand Bus fährt. Kurzgeschichten mit Drachen und Gespenstern, kein Problem.

Fun tales of spirits from Southeast Asia.

3 stars

A collection of fantasy tales full of spirit (and spirits) featuring legends and folk tales from Southeast Asia. Those who have grown up hearing tales of 'pontianak' and other local spirits may enjoy the modern twist the author has given to them. Others, hearing them for the first time, may be puzzled by how the spirits interact with humans until the context is made clear from the stories.

  • The First Witch of Damansara: the death of a grandmother (considered a witch) brings back a granddaughter to Malaysia, where she discovers some strange going-on centred around the funeral arrangements. A visit by the grandmother's ghost would change things for the better.

  • The Guest: a girl picks up a cat for companionship. Only later do we learn the girl can work spells through smells, and she is aware of, and can influence people through their smell.

  • The Fish Bowl: a girl being …

Spirits Abroad

5 stars

Zen Cho is my new favourite short story writer. Generally I find magic realism exhausting and irrelevant (García Márquez). Spirits Abroad is the first work I've read whose magical elements complement the stories—which pulse with inventiveness and humour.

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