A heartbreaking story in which the past haunts the present and bleeds into the future...She deftly articulates the many ways human beings can justify wrongdoing if it leads to a good outcome, describing the inconceivable with nuance while conveying both shock and banality. Shimotakahara displays virtuosity in this subtle deconstruction of one family's tainted origins.
The author’s storytelling skills are impressive, painting a vivid image of past and present against a backdrop of complex family dynamics...Fans of literary historical fiction will enjoy this compelling story.
A contemplation of family and the past in a rapidly changing, internationally important city with its own complicated history.
A story about life in contemporary Hong Kong as well as the region’s complicated history with mainland China, Red Oblivion feels particularly relevant to read in this current moment.
Celeste and Jill Lau only begin to learn the truth about their father when they rush from Toronto to his hospital bedside in Hong Kong. Stubbornly silent about his early years in China, their Ba has been receiving threats that allude to a crime in his past, but still refuses to explain. Red Oblivion is one of the most masterful narratives I’ve ever read about a horrific chapter in China’s history, told through an intricate, mesmerizing tale of family and identity. Leslie Shimotakahara’s writing is both beautiful and bruising.
Janie Chang, author of Dragon Springs Road
Red Oblivion is a beautifully written, gripping mystery which captures the struggles between generations, times, and places. Leslie Shimotakahara skillfully illustrates the internal conflicts of daughters with modern Canadian sensibilities challenged by age-old Chinese familial expectations. Detailed renderings of today's Hong Kong provide a fascinating backdrop for this engrossing tale of the continuing legacy of the Cultural Revolution. A literary page-turner. Shimotakahara's best work to date.
Julia Lin, author of Shadows of the Crimson Sun
Haunting and true to life, Red Oblivion will captivate readers. Shimotakahara skillfully weaves history and imagination to tell a story about a daughter’s quest to unravel her father’s complicated past so that others can understand its far-reaching influence on their present lives. A strong narrative voice draws us into a world of secrets, sacrifices, and betrayals, transporting readers from Canada to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China — only to find that the complex truths that bind friendships and families are often universal.
Ann Y.K. Choi, author of Kay's Lucky Coin Variety
[A] moving—and deeply honest—portrait of a family that desperately needs to let go of its baggage, so that they can move into a better future.
A Bookish Type
I started reading Leslie Shimotakahara’s Red Oblivion in an airline waiting room with a storm brewing outside and found myself welcoming a flight delay because I might be able to keep reading for an extra couple of hours. In other words, it’s a very compelling book!
Maria Meindl, 49th Shelf
Red Oblivion is a stirring tribute to Hong Kong and the role it served as a haven for refugees or anyone wishing to make a new start. Shimotakahara's descriptions of the territory are vivid and dreamy in the way that make us all long for a simpler time.