Cranesong by Rona Wang

Cranesong by Rona Wang

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About the book

Half Mystic Press’ debut short story collection is, above all, a bright thing. Cranesong explores the trauma that clutters our bones, the echoes that infuse our language, every dawn that insists on spinning into existence despite it all. At the same time, it lingers inside wild wind, consumes the cartography of longing, interrogates all the colors piano music can hold. These stories pinwheel from realm to realm—some fantastical, some deeply modern, and some settling in between. Yet there is an ancestral lineage that braids them together. These characters don't exist in the same world, but if they did, perhaps they'd recognize each other.

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Advance praise

“The stories in Cranesong are the stories I've been waiting to read my entire life. They are the girlhood secrets, untranslatable sorrows, and quiet violences that often surround us but never quite catch our attention until they're told by a writer like Rona Wang, whose words will uplift you just as much as they will shatter you.” —Erin O’Malley, 2018 Lambda Literary fellow and managing editor of The Ellis Review 

“In Cranesong, Rona Wang explores race, gender & sexuality in confident, lyrical prose. This is a captivating, clever, and funny collection in which Rona laces the surreal and mundane closely together: a girl turns into a bird, and that’s just today’s gossip; an artist vanishes into a mural of light, and that, accordingly, is one of infinite endings. With clear vision, Rona coaxes her characters through joys, envies, aches, and dreams to breathtaking conclusions.” —Yasmin Belkhyr, editor-in-chief of Winter Tangerine Review and author of Bone Light

“Captivating and ghostly, Cranesong disarms like no other. These stories are unapologetic about what it means to be Asian American and hurting, following different adolescents as they navigate the reclamation that comes with learning to be and become. Cranesong glitters and gleams, showcasing what Rona Wang does best: capturing the world in all its minute and wonderfully bizarre truths.” —Margaret Zhang, editor-in-chief of Glass Kite Anthology, work published in SOFTBLOW, DIALOGIST, and Gigantic Sequins

Press & reader reviews

“Wang’s skills as a storyteller are a joy to behold. She shifts smoothly and seamlessly from one point of view to another, from present to past and back again, from realism to magic realism and back. Legend can sit beside YouTube; each element, no matter how quotidian, jumps forward into something close to wonder, but the painful kind, like sunlight bouncing off snow. In another writer’s hands, these shifts would be incongruous. But in Wang’s, they’re magic. … I’d be willing to follow Wang pretty much anywhere. Better pay attention to this bright, vibrant new voice.” A review by Janice Worthen for Night Music Journal

Cranesong is a collection that deserves a spot on every shelf. Rona’s lyrical writing, marked with sharp notes and gentle touches, is the perfect voice for stories that mark us deeply.” An review by Shari & McKenzie for Colour Me Read

“Rona Wang laces themes that would cause one discomfort with her lyrical prose and presents it in a way that is palatable, as well as enjoyable to read. The overall darkness of the collection leaves you with a slight ache, that's almost pleasant and a feeling of having found a little piece of home within her words.” A review by Sakshi Jolly for Luncorde

“The whole book feels like poetry but if you have an aversion to poetry for whatever reason, I think you’ll still love it. It reads like poetry because the words she writes with are so beautiful. Yes, they are stories, but the way Rona puts the words together makes these stories feel like more. Like art. Like a painting that stops you in your tracks.” A review by Sarah Perchikoff for Bookish Rantings

“Rona Wang weaves in hopeful intervals: small acts of kindness, friendship and love. So many moments of not giving in, of being brave despite it all. Of the possibility that if there isn’t yet a place you belong in, you have, inside yourself, the ability to create a whole world that’s meant to hold you. With her words, Rona manages to clear out a space filled will light, even among all the darkness, and I think that’s incredibly powerful.” A review by Hannah for Ink & Myths

“In high school, I had gravitated towards smooth quiet—the motion of mathematics, earbuds instead of conversation—and college was supposed to be wildness, brilliant gold, the quickness of names exchanged in a single breath. Yet somehow I was still the same, tethered to the past, while it seemed everyone else around me was becoming themselves.” A guest post by Rona Wang for L’Éphémère Review

“I’m very occupied with intergenerational suffering and how that informs love. For immigrant families, absence is often a symptom—or maybe symptom isn’t quite the right word, maybe the word should be hallmark—of love. … I wanted to critique Western ideas about familial love—that familiar diatribe of oh, your parents must be tiger parents, filial piety is terrible, etc. For a long time, I saw being loved as this insurmountable debt, but now I see it as an honor.” An interview with Rona Wang for Body Without Organs

"With ‘Style,’ I wanted to tell an honest story, one starring a deeply flawed girl scrambling to survive. A girl who shoplifts from Sephora. Who lies about herself on dating apps. Who is so entrenched in her own insecurities that she turns to find comfort in a subculture that exalts heteronormativity, colorism, and commodification, all because—at least in her mind—it is everything she is not.” A guest post by Rona Wang for Night Music Journal

Reader photos

About the author

Rona Wang is a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For her writing, she has been named a HerCampus 22 Under 22 and nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology. She is originally from Portland, Oregon.