Spiritual Pursuits and Other Stories
by Lien Chao
Lien Chao’s new collection of stories is about Toronto as a meeting place for people of all backgrounds. Set in the decades from the 1980s to the 2020s, the stories depict the ripple effects of China’s economic success, the peak of business globalization, and its inevitable decline during the COVID-19 pandemic. The author has chosen an unhampered social and geographical setting to observe Canadians in the world and at home, including immigrants and refugees. The author has depicted in great detail friendships among neighbours and single women. As Canadians merge into mixed neighbourhoods, spiritual pursuits in individual lifestyles are shared socially as communal rituals.
These five long stories touch on a number of social groups. Newcomer portrait artists build their businesses on the streets of downtown Toronto in the 1990s; a Canadian business club tries hard to enter the retail markets in China in the 2010s; a multi-millionaire from China organizes an artists’ salon in Scarborough; a group of spiritual pursuers meet weekly in Markham Village for meditation and discussion of ancient Chinese wisdom and spirituality.