Deceit and Other Possibilities by Vanessa Hua

Deceit and Other Possibilities

Winner, Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

Grand Prize Winner, Willow Books Literature Awards (Prose)

Short Stories



In this powerful debut collection, Vanessa Hua gives voice to immigrant families navigating a new America. Tied to their ancestral and adopted homelands in ways unimaginable in generations past, these memorable characters straddle both worlds but belong to none.

From a Hong Kong movie idol fleeing a sex scandal, to an obedient daughter turned Stanford imposter, to a Chinatown elder summoned to his village, to a Korean-American pastor with a secret agenda, the characters in these ten stories vividly illustrate the conflict between self and society, tradition and change. In “What We Have is What We Need,” winner of The Atlantic student fiction prize, a boy from Mexico reunites with his parents in San Francisco. When he suspects his mother has found love elsewhere, he fights to keep his family together.

With insight and wit, she writes about what wounds us and what we must survive. Her searing stories explore the clash of cultures and the complex, always shifting allegiances that we carry in ourselves, our family, and our community.Deceit and Other Possibilities marks the emergence of a remarkable new writer.


Advance Praise

Vanessa Hua inhabits in graceful and heartbreaking detail the people of her stories: strivers and betrayers, lovers and the landless, all of them on their way to transcendence in her hands.

– SUSAN STRAIGHT, author of Between Heaven and Here and Highwire Moon

Fast-paced, dazzling, smart, and fun, Vanessa Hua’s debut collection illustrates the insanities and heartbreaks on both sides of the Pacific.

– GARY SHTEYNGART, author of  Little Failure and  Super Sad True Love Story

Deceit and Other Stories gives us characters whose lives are constrained and yet also enriched by different borders, cultures, and traditions. A bracing and beautiful debut, full of fire and light.

– LAILA LALAMI, author of The Moor’s Account

Complicated, cosmopolitan and utterly contemporary, Deceit and Other Possibilities is a richly enjoyable collection.  Hua is expert at creating both empathy and suspense whether it’s in the emptiness of a national park or the crowded space of an international flight.  These stories will jump right off the page into the reader’s imagination.

–MARGOT LIVESEY, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy


Hua’s thoughtful use of themes, such as scandal, transit and redemption… expand and dramatize the connections between Asian diasporic characters as complex, mobile and at turns hilariously and painfully human.

–JUDGES’ NOTE, San Francisco Foundation, James D. Phelan Award for Fiction

Vanessa Hua has appeared in The Atlantic, New York Times, FRONTLINE/World, Washington Post, and elsewhere.  Previously, she was a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, and has filed stories from China, South Korea, Panama, Burma and Ecuador. She received a 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the San Francisco Foundation’s Phelan Award for Fiction, and is a former Steinbeck Fellow in Fiction at San Jose State University. Her novel, A River of Stars, is forthcoming from Ballantine.