Other Small Histories by Darien Hsu Gee

Edition: 500 copies of the winning books were printed by the Prolific Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson, with covers by Dan Funderburgh.


Darien Hsu Gee’s Other Small Histories is a lush and lyrical chronicle of a walking back, a mesmerizing merge of research, vision and invention that gradually crafts a story of the women in her matriarchal line. She does so in a series of lean prose poetry vignettes that unreel like fragments of cinema, beautifully sparse revelations that make the reader a party to her process of discovery.

—Patricia Smith

Darien Hsu Gee

Darien Hsu Gee is the recipient of a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center and a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Her poems, essays, and short fiction have appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, and her novels have been published by Penguin Random House. Her craft book on writing memoir won the 2015 Hawaii‘i Book Publishers’ Ka Palapala Po‘okela Award of Excellence. Darien lives and writes from the island of Hawai‘i.

Woman’s Work

The matchmaker lines up lunar birth dates, inspects the girl for strange marks or the presence of illness. The girl is good. “There is a family,” the matchmaker says, and so it is arranged. When the girl is twelve, maybe thirteen or fourteen, she leaves her home in the village and goes to his. She is presented simply. This is ––– from the house of –––. The ceremony is brief. Stand here. Kowtow. Repeat. The boy is six, maybe seven. It is her duty to look after him, her future husband, her young charge. She helps with chores, she serves his parents—she cannot see her short future. She does not know what lies ahead, her splintered self, her sacrifice. The girl thinks, Marriage isn’t difficult. This work is not so hard. They play hopping chicken or knucklebones, catch crickets in cupped hands, housing them in small boxes, coaxing them to sing.

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