When NYC photographer Amy Wu learns her mother has died, grief blurs her sight and her photos. She travels to her childhood home in Manchuria and seeks her mother through memories, stories, and photos. The artistic ambition that tore Amy from her family may be the only thing that can reconcile them and allow Amy to see clearly. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune meets My Name is Lucy Barton.
My mother died of a broken heart, or so the letter said.
I was standing in a vegetable stall in Manhattan’s Chinatown, next to eight-for-a-dollar garlic and bok choy by the pound. The old Manchurian woman who translated for me spoke a broken, heavily accented English. She looked up from her lawn chair, and I stiffened under her gaze. I honestly didn’t know how to feel. Death was an abstract thing for me; I had never been to a funeral.
“Well, this letter say written Friday—”
“Four days ago.” I choked out a laugh, terribly inappropriate. “What else does it say? How did she… when is the funeral?”
“Just that. Your mother dead.” The old woman half-gave, half-threw my letter back at me and circled two fingers in the air to ward off evil. She turned to serve a customer who was choosing peppers.
I looked at the sun directly overhead. The sky was a painful blue unmarred by clouds. I looked down and saw the pavement at my translator’s feet was cracked like the calluses that peeked through her torn embroidered sandals. Dazed, I lifted my camera from where it hung on a strap at my hip and took a photograph of her sandals, the wrinkles on her feet and the pavement laid with scars.