2019 - Shortlisted
This is a wholly original work of fiction from an exciting new voice. On the surface this is the story of Monk, a young woman living in Chinatown and her relationships with both her burnt-out painter father and Santa Coy — her sometimes boyfriend, sometimes accomplice — and the strange, violent and sometimes very beautiful world they inhabit. Dig deeper and this book is really a complex and critical exploration of being both hyper-visible and invisible in adolescence, the artifice of art and spiritualism and what it means to have a transcultural identity.
It is also, of course, a book about language and rhythm, pace and syntax, in which the wild and dizzying experimentations Lau makes, in order to create her startling images, are just as interesting as the plot and characters themselves. Lau continually pushes at the boundaries of the storytelling form, offering the reader short sharp chapters, some of which appear as only one shocking sentence, and a new kind of language that exists somewhere between Cantonese, philosophy, street talk and the digital jargon of the internet age. Lau is a writer to watch.