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Deceit and Other Possibilities

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  245 ratings  ·  48 reviews
In this powerful debut collection, Vanessa Hua gives voice to immigrant families navigating a new America. Tied to their ancestral and adopted homelands in ways unimaginable in generations past, these memorable characters straddle both worlds but belong to none.

From a Hong Kong movie idol fleeing a sex scandal, to an obedient daughter turned Stanford imposter, to a
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by Counterpoint (first published September 30th 2016)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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Naz (Read Diverse Books)
Closer to 4.5 stars.
One of the best short story collections I've read this year.
As the title may suggest, the common thread in all of these stories is deception. Let me tell you, this makes for fascinating storytelling and tension. Some of the characters deceive themselves while others outwardly and egregiously deceive others with potentially disastrous consequences. Another common thread is the characters themselves! A few characters make an appearance in other stories, which is always a plus
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An enjoyable collection of short stories. While the underlying theme is deception, the stories cover a wide spectrum of topics including infidelity, 'coming out of the closet', charity and even a desire for kids. Hua manages to maintain a palpable sense of tension throughout. The first story is obviously based on the real-life sex photo scandal of Hong Kong celebrity Edison Chen.

One thing I noticed, the writing seemed to get stronger as the stories progressed. It seemed to me, as I was reading,
Ethel Rohan
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Theres an intense energy to the stories in Vanessa Huas DECEIT AND OTHER POSSIBILITIES (love the dissonance of the title) that mirrors the fraught, sometimes frenzied lives of its struggling Asian, immigrant characters.

The persistent depiction of excess in the settings (including San Francisco, my home town) and action within this collection parallels men and women at low points in their lives who are driven to extremes because of their sense of not having enoughof belonging, identity,
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, two things: (1) this is the MOST diverse book I've ever read (yay!) and (2) I cannot wait until her novel is available.

I was relieved and refreshed by this book, especially during this awful time of Chump America.

This collection of short stories is creative, each story distinct and satisfying. My only complaint is that short stories end too soon.

I almost forgot that I was reading letters and words. I felt as if I were dropped into the stories. And there were many "killing me softly"
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't often read short stories (am more of a novel and essay junkie), but I was deeply drawn to the characters and narratives in this collection. Hua is a talented writer whose insights into immigrant and identity politics build stories that resonate well beyond the page -- I'm now counting down the days until her novels are published!

These stories speak with intimacy about the shared human experience of feeling like an outsider, of young love, of spiritual quest. All of the characters, like
Ali Eteraz
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There came a moment during my reading of these stories that the "Chinese-American" overlay of the stories faded away and I started experiencing an immersion in the narrative that occurs when you start identifying with the characters. This kind of writing is not easy to do, but when done well, as it is here, seems so beguilingly seductive. The characters in these stories are almost all looking for something. It is not identity so much as belonging. They look for belonging in God, in nature, in ...more
Xhenet Aliu
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for the title alone. Five stars retained for the subversively funny, compassionate-yet-unflinching stories of outsiders, people who want, people who dont get what they want, people who flee from, people who flee to, people who are wholly recognized and by Hua as people, which should not be as radical as it somehow feels. ...more
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 5-star-reads
Loved this set of short stories! They're clever and thought provoking. I found each story sucked me in and after finishing it, I needed to pause and really ponder the story and some unsettled feelings. This would be a perfect book to discuss in a book club.
Jenny Williams
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy short stories but haven't read an entire collection in several years, so I approached "Deceit" warily, expecting to pick it up and read a story here and there over the course of a couple of months or even a year. Happy to report that any lingering skepticism had entirely vanished within the opening pages. I read the whole collection within a week. It's a different sort of pleasure than reading a novel: one experiences the pang of loss upon reaching the end of a satsifying story while ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hua's stories, portraying the lives of first- and second-generation Americans, are full of vivid images, heartbreaking dilemmas, and truly poetic language.

From a young boy who sees his immigrant family fracturing under the weight of disappointed dreams; to a pastor whose lies are endangering not only his church, but the African village he is on a mission to helpthese characters do not cease to captivate.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every story in this collection is worth poring over, from its chosen setting--an airplane; a village in Africa; a campground--to its characters.

Hua genuinely understands the need for every word to count. She explores the conceit of immigrant life from varied angles in this book, and never disappoints. Pick this one up. You won't be sorry. I read one or two each night before I went to bed and found myself looking at people in different ways each following day.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All the stories were subtly dark, and all the characters seemed to be struggling with some sort of embarrassment.
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
*I won this book from a Goodreads first-reads giveaway

Short stories are not my genre of choice however I was intrigued by the synopsis I read and was very pleased to have had the chance to read this. This book contains collections of short stories that deal with numerous topics such as infidelity, plagiarism, dilemmas, heartbreak and so much more. Each story deals with immigrant life in the Bay Area of CA. Every character is well derived and tells a fascinating story.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gem of a short story collection was so beautifully conceived and written. I loved how how the characters were often people or types you might have read about in news stories, such as the Asian-American who finds stardom in Asia, the everyday person whose poor judgment embroils them in a shooting, the girl who feigned an acceptance at Stanford and spent a quarter there faking it. Hua humanizes them, helps you understand how and why they make the decisions they do. The writing was spare, ...more
Lilly Schmaltz
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Counterpoint Press for sending me a copy of the 2020 resissue in exchange for an honest review.

Vanessa Hua is back! First published in 2016, Deceit and Other Possibilities is re-released with new stories. This is a powerful collection of immigrant stories that investigates identity and one's duty to family and tradition.

This was such a moving collection of short stories. As the name suggests, the main theme is deception. Deception comes in all forms, sometimes deceiving oneself
Constance Hale
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dec-18
I stared at the cover of Deceit and Other Possibilities for weeks before having a quiet stretch to dip in. The title was a riddle, almost an oxymoron. The mirror images of cranes was starkly beautiful and slightly creepy.

What I found behind the cover was equally intriguing. There was the novelty of the characters. I was meeting such people, it seemed, for the first time in fiction. These mostly Asian-American protagonists explore the American side of that equation. Many have immigrant parents
Moxie Bangs
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
vanessa hua's debut short story collection is an amalgam of bay area lives that touch but never once blur. her character's run a gamut between the super celuloid sex scandals of a Hong Kong reality star, a half closetted, half-Chinese-San-Francisco queer couple, a teenaged Mexican Dreamer in the Castro watching his mother choose tradition and loyalty over other possibilities, and Chinese software engineers between Visas roughing it in the redwoods, and that's just a few of Deceit's highly ...more
Kevin Allardice
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic collection, diverse but thematically whole, way more than the sum of its parts. In examining the experience of first-generation Chinese Americans, who are stuck at the intersection of their heritage and the demands of their present, Hua shines surprising spotlights at the fissures of the quotidian. While that might sound shoe-gazing, these stories are very propulsive and often quite suspenseful. Hua applies just the right amount of pressure to launch both the characters and ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deceit and Other Possibilites is an engaging and heart-wrenching collection of stories that provide a glimpse of life as an immigrant in America today. Covering a wide range of characters found in difficult situations across the globe, Hua's attention to detail and love for her characters make it easy for the reader to become immersed in the stories as they unfold. I am looking forward to reading more of Vanessa Hua's work.
Renee Rutledge
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laughed often reading "Loaves and Fishes," got teary-eyed from "What We Have Is What We Need," and felt goosebumps at the end of "Harte Lake." This engrossing and wise story collections is one of my new favorites, joining Lysley Tenorio's Monstress and Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies on my list of must-reads.
Louise Nayer
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With stunning language, suspenseful plot twists and candor, Hus short story collection follows characters desperate for acceptance in an America that marginalizes too many. Some resort to secrets and explosive acts, yet in the end they draw on great strength and survive like the cranes who rise toward the horizon. A fascinating read! ...more
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tight little gems, every single story. The ESL teacher in me particularly loved What We Have is What We Need. ...more
Laurie Doyle
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By turns humorous and profound, Hua's "Deceit and Other Possibilities" takes us into a world of immigrants that won't let us go. I strongly recommend this book!
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing and well written collection. Really enjoyed it!
Two years ago, I read Vanessa Huas debut novel A River of Stars , which presented a realistic take on the Chinese immigrant experience against the backdrop of the birth tourism phenomenon in the United States. I enjoyed that book quite a bit, not just for the story and the characters, but also the way Hua was able to work the cultural references into the plot so smoothly. I remember thinking at that time how much I looked forward to Huas next book and hoping that she wouldnt make us wait too ...more
Eric Mueller
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection is a delight. Deceit and Other Possibilities is a story collection held together by lies. Each story presents a new instance where a character tells lies, usually to their parents in addition to others, and the repercussions of said actions. With most of the characters being Chinese, Korean, Latinx, Pacific Islander, immigrants, mixed-race Americans, and other perspectives not normally represented, I learned a lot about others while reading this.

Like most of the stories involve
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Quite an inventive set of stories, with only the first two being interconnected. The plots and characters diverge widely. On the whole, they reflect the diversity of American culture, with a pan-Asian focus for the most part.

I liked the stories, for the most part, though so man of them focus on people who indeed are drawn to deceit, as the title implies. I would not say these stories are actually sad, but they are certainly far from upbeat and most end on a down note. The result is that I did
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of ten short stories by Vanessa Hua. Some of the characters in one story might pop up in another story later on, an interconnectivity I always enjoy in such collections, going back to Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, I suppose, but recently noted in Tom Hanks Uncommon Type as well. And while Hanks used a typewriter reference as a theme to connect his stories, Hua uses the idea of deceitplanning it, using it, or coming up with some other strategy.

She foregrounds the
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book of short focusing on the immigrant and/or first gen experience, specifically most stories focus on the experience of East Asians. That's an important undercurrent in all the stories. They're stories that focus on people making poor choices and having to deal with the consequences or about to see the consequences coming. The characters in each story have unique voices and stand apart from each other - this isn't something you always see in a short story collection by the same ...more

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I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

This short story collection is like no other I have read in the past year. Vanessa Hua presents ten stories all involving the theme of deceit, lies, or hiding the truth. All ten stories center around immigrant families in the United States. While the theme remains the same throughout the stories, the manifestation of the theme changes drastically
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Vanessa Hua is author of DECEIT AND OTHER POSSIBILITIES, winner of the Asian Pacific American Award for Literature and a finalist for the California Book Award, A RIVER OF STARS, a national bestseller and best books pick by NPR and the Washington Post.

A National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, she has also received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award

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