Why is Doretta Lau holding her new book in front of Subeez Cafe? Because it’s one of the many Vancouver locations in her short story collection How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?
Julia, the protagonist of “Robot by the River,” meets Oliver Andrews there. He’s a Korean adoptee, one of the book’s many Asian Canadian characters..
Doretta actually hadn’t been inside Subeez since around 2001, and had recently wondered with a friend, “Who goes there anymore?” Well, apparently, we did. The decor hadn’t changed much. The huge melted candles were still there. The menu had changed, now featuring fish tacos and edamame. The food was good, but too distracting for an interview. So we went to the CBC.
She had started writing the title story in 2005. Despite the Zen sounding title, it is actually the most bad-ass, featuring characters named Yellow Peril, The Chairman, Suzie Wrong, Riceboy and the Sick Man of Asia.
“I actually began the process of finishing it in 2011,” she says, “I spent a week eating instant noodles and working on it.” It was rejected by several magazines before being published in issue 41/1 of EVENT magazine. It wound up getting the attention of her book publisher and was a finalist for the Journey Prize in 2013.
For more, watch our video:
Doretta Lau’s short story “Days of Being Wild,” now collected in How Does A Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?, was published in issue 18.3 (Winter 2013) of Ricepaper magazine. Read an excerpt. Buy a copy of the issue.