Ghost Music

Recorded Books. Jan. 2023. 6:03 hrs. ISBN 9781705087275. $15.99. F
Yu (Braised Pork) offers a luminous story of talking mushrooms, lost musicians, and a marriage shrouded in secrets. Concert pianist–turned–music teacher Song Yan is having recurring dreams of being trapped in a doorless room where an orange mushroom—perhaps a ghost?—asks for her help. Upon awakening, she finds that a mysterious package of rare mushrooms has been delivered to the apartment she shares with her husband Bowen and his mother, recently arrived from Yunnan Province. Narrator Vera Chok describes Song Yan’s mother-in-law’s eagerness as she uses the mushrooms to make marvelous but unsettling meals for Bowen. More mushrooms arrive, as do secrets about Bowen’s past, all while Song Yan discovers that the mushrooms were sent by the famous pianist Bai Yu, who disappeared years ago. Chok exquisitely captures Song Yan’s unmoored state, creating an eerie atmosphere where dreams blur with reality. Her voice is seductive as she describes Song Yan’s music—the harmonies and occasional dissonances of Chopin, Debussy, and Schubert. When she voices Song Yan’s mother-in-law, she allows a note of pique to come through.
VERDICT Chok’s graceful narration works in tandem with the otherworldly atmosphere that Yu has created. This unforgettable listen should please fans of Hiroko Oyamada.
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