Shortlisted for the University of Southern Queensland Australian Short Story Collection – Steele Rudd Award 2015
The title of Nicholas Jose’s new collection of stories refers to a form of Chinese painting that tricks the eye into thinking what it sees is a collage of fragments. Bapo literally means ‘eight broken’, where eight is a Chinese lucky number and ‘broken’ implies that luck has run out – though the term also suggests that there’s another kind of luck, in simply surviving, and being able to hold the pieces of one’s life together in some sort of order.
Jose’s stories feature a cast of characters affected by time or chance in different ways, artists, diplomats, entrepreneurs, immigrants, families at the crossroads. Many explore Australia’s relationship to China or have echoes of China in them; others dwell on the qualities of memory, resilience, play and adventure – qualities which are implicit in the form of bapo, and characteristic of Jose’s writing as a whole.