/

Excess Baggage

by Jordan Sievers

Staff Writer

The debut novel from author Karen Ma centers on the complicated relationship between a Chinese family and an estranged sister who become reunited in Japan after three decades apart and brings into question how culture, rather than family, shapes the individual. The constant theme of the novel is the idea of “home” and the most intriguing parts of the story are how the two sisters question their own idea of it. Much of the book is based on the author’s time in Japan in the 1980s and ’90s, and the prose benefits from this authenticity. The personal insight into dysfunctional Chinese family dynamics as they deal with issues of alienation and discrimination is also worthy of mention.