Title: You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked.
Publication Date: October 2020
Publisher: Book*hug Press
I may have to revisit this book in the future to meditate on the array of topics covered, but also the story in general. It’s a quiet read, comprised of vignettes that follow the musings of a translator. His attention often turns to an unnamed woman—referred to as “you” throughout most of the book—which sets up a rather intimate story setting that, in a way, draw the reader in. In addition to this relatively unique perspective, Sheung-King offers an intricate reality through stories within a story, to a point where it often felt that you were on the verge of entering a surreal space.
I think it’s worth highlighting the intimacy of this relatively short novel again, particularly because the narrator reveals much of his personal life in such a quiet way. They range from his impressions of living in Toronto and Hong Kong, to the wide range of complex emotions tied to human interactions (especially with the unnamed woman; “you”). The complexity continues with the deliberate literary references throughout ranging from Goethe to Barthes to Murakami, some of which I recognized while others I could only understand from what the narrator decided to share.
The way this story is stitched together really reminds me of a New Wave film; perhaps more aptly, Hong Kong New Wave. And, more specifically, Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express (well, to me at least).
Again, I’ll likely revisit this book at some point. Right after finishing it, I had mixed feelings, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I quite liked the way Sheung-King approached this story in such a unique fashion. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, for sure, but it’s definitely an interesting one.
Content Warning: drug/alcohol use, racism, sexual content, references to colonialism