Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this blazing debut of one family's queer desires, violent impulses and buried secrets.
One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman's body. Her name was Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her estranged grandmother; a visiting aunt leaves red on everything she touches; a ghost bird shimmers in an ancient birdcage.
All the while, Daughter is falling for a neighbourhood girl named Ben with mysterious stories of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother's letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies an old Taiwanese myth, and fears the power of the tiger spirit bristling within her to cause pain. She will have to bring her family's secrets to light in order to derail their destiny.
'What gives me fuel are other books - anything stylish and/or dirty. This year I loved reading K-Ming Chang's Bestiary' Raven Leilani, author of Luster
A powerful novel that will sit inside you for days after reading
A visceral, magical tale - every sentence is worth savouring.
Full of magic realism that reaches down your throat, grabs hold of your guts and forces a slow reckoning with what it means to be a foreigner, a native, a mother, a daughter
Chang makes a spell rise from every wound, and I'm caught all the way up in this magic... one of the best emerging writers out there.
K-Ming Chang's prose ravishes, ravages, rampages. This is an absolute lightning strike of a debut. The world grew brighter as I read it.