I first heard Ho Sok Fong’s name from her translator Natascha Bruce. Bruce told me a story of Ho’s she was translating at the time: In the days leading up to the 1911 Revolution, in Malaysia, a Japanese prostitute is involved with a pirate, who’s endeavouring to build a hot air balloon.
Naturally, I needed to read this story and Bruce kindly shared it with me later. ‘October’, it’s called. Before I finished the first page, tears rushed to my eyes. I had never read anything like this before. Ho’s prose is so unique, vivid and eccentrically captivating. The literary world in ‘October’ is also brand new to me, multi-coloured and untamed like a painting of Pollock.
I often think back to the scene where Kikuko stretches out across the tatami in the newly built chapel, feeling an incredible serenity. A breeze comes in, “climbs over her ankles and skates up her calves”, eventually it reaches her thighs, and arouses the prostitute.
First published in English in Lake Like a Mirror, Granta Books, London, 2019