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Fortunes rise and fall. One day you have a lucky ticket and get a dinner so good and you eat so much that you think you’ll never need to eat again. You get busy making plans and then the hunger comes looking for you.I’m just an old man selling lucky tickets, but my theory is that we all get our turn in the end. I’ve had my turn at fortune. It was some years ago, maybe 2002, because I remember that was when Sài Gòn was less red and bright with fried chicken signs everywhere.
A highly original collection of stories by a talented young writer. In the comic-tragic eponymous story, ‘Lucky Ticket’, the narrator, a genial, disabled old man, whose spirit is far from crushed, sells lottery tickets on a street corner in bustling Saigon. In ‘Mekong Love’, two young people in a restrictive society try to find a way to consummate their relationship—in an extraordinary tropical landscape.
In ‘Abu Dhabi Gently’, a story of dreams and disappointment, of camaraderie and disillusionment, a migrant worker leaves Vietnam to earn money in the UAE in order to be able to marry his fiancée. ‘White Washed’ depicts a strained friendship between two students in Melbourne, the Vietnamese narrator and a white girl. What does it mean to be Asian? What does it mean to be white? And what makes up identity?
In Lucky Ticket, Joey Bui introduces a diverse range of characters, all with distinctive voices, and makes us think differently about identity, mixed-race relationships, difficulties between family generations, war and dislocation.
‘An exciting, profound and often funny dive into the minor cataclysms of everyday life. Joey Bui is a marvel.’
‘Filled with distinctive characters and full of surprises, these stories are enlightening and unforgettable.’
Joey Bui is a masterful storyteller. The stories in Lucky Ticket are so diverse in setting and voice, it’s hard to believe they were all written by the same person. Each tale is delightfully rich with detail and yet reverberates with a broader truth. When the book finished, I was sad to leave its pages but heartened to know that such a collection exists in the world. These unforgettable characters and stories will keep me company for a gloriously long time.
‘Wry yet affecting…the scatological nature of the stories and the ways in which they delve into the indignity of poverty call to mind Jenny Zhang, while the astute racial, gender and class commentary would appeal to readers of Julie Koh, Melanie Cheng and Rosanna Gonsalves.’