March 28, 2023

Water Ghosts

Author: Shawna Yang Ryan

Penguin Paperbacks

July 27, 2010 – $15

Penguin Books released the acclaimed Shawna Yang Ryan novel, Water Ghosts in hard cover in early 2009. It comes out through Penguin Paperbacks on July 27, 2010.

The story begins as three bedraggled Chinese women suddenly appear out of the mist one afternoon in a small Chinese farming town of Locke, California on the Sacramento River in 1928. Their arrival throws the community into confusion.

Two of the women are unknown to the townspeople, while the third is the long-lost wife of Richard Fong, the handsome manager of the local gambling parlor, who had left her behind in China many years earlier and had not yet returned for her.

Richard’s wife’s unexpected arrival complicates his life in no small way – not least with two prostitutes at the local brothel he frequents. One, the beautiful young Chloe, depends on him but has eyes for someone else, someone even more forbidden – the local preacher’s daughter. The other, Poppy, the psychic madam of the brothel, is desperately in love with him, and she begins to sink into despair as he grows further and further away from her.

As the lives of the townspeople become inextricably intertwined with the newly arrived women, Poppy’s premonitions begin to foretell a deep unhappiness for all involved. And when a flood threatens the livelihood of the entire town, the frightening power of these mysterious women who arrived in the mist will be revealed.

Born in Sacramento, California, the child of parents who met during the Vietnam War when her father was stationed in Taiwan, Shawna Yang Ryan graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and received an M.A. from the University of California, Davis. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.

In 2002, Yang Ryan was a Fulbright scholar in Taiwan. She published Water Ghosts, with the original title “Locke 1928” with El Leon Literary Arts in 2007. It was a finalist for the 2008 Northern California Book Award.

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