cover image The Runaway Restaurant

The Runaway Restaurant

Tessa Yang. 7.13 Books, $19.99 trade paper (186p) ISBN 979-8-9853762-8-9

Yang debuts with a promising speculative collection largely focused on the isolation of young and marginalized women. In the title story, a mother picks up a young hitchhiker while searching for the mythic roadside restaurant she believes houses her own runaway daughter. Along the way, she works through her anger and disappointment at her wife, her child, and herself over their ruptured family. “Biohack” follows a high school student as she explores her need for love and her growing resemblance to her mother in a culture obsessed with aesthetic body modification. In “Haunting Grounds,” a recently deceased Japanese American woman drifts through locations important to her past life while looking for a resting place and eventually wrangling with the ghost of a white man over the house her family lived in after surviving an internment camp. Though the stories tend to be a bit formulaic, Yang thoughtfully explores her characters’ needs and emotions, and she effectively conceives surprising and uncomfortable circumstances—up to and including an apocalyptic pandemic in “Your Anger Is a Tiny Bird”—to interrogate the strength of human relationships. Readers will be delighted by Yang’s creative examination of her characters’ psyches. (Oct.)