Illustator: Alison Schooling / Sarah Tang
The stories in Her Name Upon the Strand are a curious mixture of the strange and fantastical, the macabre and the enchanted. And the volume itself is a hybrid creature — straddling a range of formats, from incantatory prose poems to experimental lists that enumerate diverse and at times incongruous elements, in addition to conventional stories, some of moderate length, some no more than a few paragraphs long. These modulations lend a particular rhythmic sensation to the reading of the collection, with the short pieces’ syncopated bursts given further counterpoint by the mysterious, and at times surreal, photographs of Hong Kong interpolated in the book’s middle section. These images are of a similarly intense heft as the stories they accompany, and give rise to an interrogation of what relationship they have to the narrative as a whole, and in what way, if any, they might be representative of it. Laced with humour and wit, the collection presents a poetic though discordant and unsettling panorama. Ho’s terse, economical prose has the poise of Lydia Davis and the laconic authority of David Markson, and is as unnerving as it is uncompromising.