I hadn't read it. Actually, I hadn't read anything by this expatriate writer who many people think is the best writer of fantastic (that's not fantasy) novels in English. I'm reading it now, but I am a very slow and distracted reader (the kind who starts 4 books at once and takes a few months to finish any of them), so this is my in-progress review.
Here's the film treatment version of the plot for The Ghost in Love: Ben falls in the snow, hits head on curb, dies but doesn’t die. Ghost (Ling) is sent to take his soul to the afterlife, gets confused, asks Angel of Death for clarification, not sure say AoD, stay with him until I get back to you.
Now the boy meets girl part. Ghost falls in love with Ben's girlfriend. Oh yeah, Ling is a woman. Ben discovers he did not die when he was “supposed to." Human beings can take their fates back from the gods?
I like that we meet the Angel of Death in a cafe having a meal with Ling. I like that Death isn't so much mad that Ben's fate is out of his control, but is "fascinated to see what will happen to him now."
I like Carroll's little ghost inventions, like the reason why ghosts have Chinese names:
A Chinese farmer invented the idea of ghosts three thousand years ago as a way of explaining to his precocious grandson what happens to people after they die. God thought it such a novel and useful idea he told his angels to make the concept real and allow it to flourish within the system. In honor of the inventor, ghosts have always had Chinese names.I like ghosts.