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GREEN FROG by Gina Chung


And Other Stories

by Gina Chung

Pub Date: March 12th, 2024
ISBN: 9780593469361
Publisher: Vintage

Familial obligations knit together these quiet, beautifully expressed stories about Korean Americans.

What do we owe the people related to us through blood or marriage? What do we owe ourselves? These are the questions Chung addresses in her first collection of stories, following the novel Sea Change (2023). On the third anniversary of her mother’s death from cancer, the narrator of “Green Frog,” who dropped out of art school to care for her mother and help run the family restaurant, wonders whether it’s time for a change: “I am here, I remind myself. And maybe it’s time I did something about it.” In “After the Party,” a woman whose husband asks her to put up with one of his lecherous colleagues for the sake of his tenure case vows to protect her own professional dreams, even if her path forward isn’t as clear as her husband’s. Some of the most moving stories consider what women inherit from their mothers and grandmothers. The second-person narrator in the pleasingly zingy “The Arrow” gradually comes to appreciate her difficult mother when she finds herself single and pregnant, just as her mother once was: “Your mother, no matter how you feel about her, is a reminder that what you want—to have this baby and raise it on your own—is possible.” In “You’ll Never Know How Much I Loved You,” a grandmother urges her young granddaughter to value herself and be her “own prize,” and yet the rest of the piece is a devastating account of the difficulty of this task and the granddaughter’s failure to use her beautiful singing voice. A handful of magical and fabulist stories aren’t nearly as successful as the realistic work. Instead, Chung’s gift is patiently unraveling ordinary moments in ordinary lives and conveying their significance in translucent prose.

Lovely, emotionally resonant stories.