Happy book birthday to IF I WERE THE OCEAN I’D CARRY YOU HOME by Pete Hsu, out today from Red Hen Press!

Winner of the 2021 Red Hen Press Fiction Award: Full of warmth, terror, and underhanded humor, If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home, Pete Hsu’s debut story collection, captures the essence of surviving in a life set adrift. Children and young people navigate a world where the presence of violence and death rear themselves in everyday places: Vegas casinos, birthday parties, church services, and sunny days at the beach. Each story is a meditation on living in a world not made for us–the pervasive fear, the adaptations, the unexpected longings. A gripping and energetic debut, Hsu’s writing beats with the naked rhythms of an unsettled human heart.

Order now wherever fine books are sold, including: Bookshop.orgAmazonVromans, & Skylight Books

/ / /

“Each story surprised me, over and over again, with the narratives of children and young people navigating the random dangers of their homes, the adults around them, and the absolute presence always of violence and death. But it was the sly humor, the vivid detail of forest and church and street and body, that made these stories stay with me. The voices are indelible, and the moments when the whole world turns and pivots were admirable in their magic.”

– Susan Straight, author of IN THE COUNTRY OF WOMEN and MECCA

* * *

“Pete Hsu is a clear, emotionally perceptive writer. The twelve loosely connected stories in If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home give us intimate views into the inner lives of sensitive characters trying to find a foothold in the shifting terrain of this unpredictable, limitless world.”

– Steph Cha, author of YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY

* * *

“Pete Hsu’s writing is assured and his stories subtle and keenly observed. If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home is about family and friendship and the way we run–all of us–to forget what it seems we shouldn’t.”

– Natashia Deón, author of GRACE and THE PERISHING

* * *

“Beautiful, heartfelt collection with stories of childhood trauma that I did not stop thinking about. Though the subject matter is often filled with suspense and/or painful element, Pete Hsu offsets this with moments of humor and exquisitely gorgeous writing that make this book a stunning read.”

– Toni Ann Johnson, author of LIGHT SKIN GONE TO WASTE

* * *

“Pete Hsu’s debut story collection chronicles scenes from a life adrift in this reflection on the many ways we’re expected to adapt to the world today.”

– Zibby Owens, Good Morning America 

* * *

“This debut collection follows a slew of children and young adults as they move through the quotidian patterns of life—celebrating birthdays, enjoying beach parties, attending church events—while also being thrust into grim, chaotic, and violent situations. Hsu’s stories expose the irresistible urge to search for hope within a depraved world.”

– Alta Journal

“Linked through both theme and character, the stories in Hsu’s wonderful debut collection feature people from the Asian American diaspora, many of them children, who find themselves in situations revolving around violence, death, and other generally frightening circumstances. From the large-scale and political, as in a story about a man who helps get undocumented Chinese nationals over the Mexico-U.S. border in a shipping container, to the small and personal, like eight-year-old Penny learning how to shoot a rifle from her drunk, possibly threatening, stepfather. In a later story, grown-up Penny plays penny slots in Las Vegas and fields microaggressions aplenty. Standout character Reggie, aging from young boy to older man, shows up in several stories, his fear, anger, and sentimentality constant companions in the face of his father, racist white boys, the man who slept with his wife, and, ultimately, his own approaching death. Each story has a level of anxiety, yet Hsu never overworks it. Characters’ complexity and realistic dialogue add to the emotionality and genuineness of each story in this winning collection.”

— Kathy Sexton, Booklist

Pete Hsu is the author of the short story collection If I Were The Ocean, I’d Carry You Home (Red Hen Press, 2022) and the experimental chapbook There Is A Man (Tolsun Books). His writing has also been featured in The Los Angeles Review, The Bare Life Review, F(r)iction Magazine, Faultline Journal of Arts and Letters, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and others. He was a 2017 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow and the 2017 PEN in the Community Writer in Residence. He was born in Taipei, Taiwan and currently resides in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley. Pete is represented by Amanda Orozco.