Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about 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 paid the price for her body in hunger. It’s one of many stories Daughter absorbs from the women in her family, about gourd daughters, buried gold and rabbit moons. Soon afterwards, Daughter wakes with a tiger tail.
And more mysterious events follow: holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her estranged grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with red hands and snakes in her belly; her brother tests the possibility of flight.
All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighbourhood girl who is more bird than tiger and has mysterious stories of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters and the myths that surround them, Daughter must reckon with how deep these stories are buried within her and what power is rising, violently, through her. She will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.
With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K-Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the magical realist aesthetic of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family’s history from Taiwan to America, Bestiary is a lyrical and electrifying novel of migration, queer lineages and girlhood.
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