Bestiary: K-Ming Chang in Conversation with Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
February 26, 2021 @ 19:30 – 20:30 GMT
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.
K-Ming Chang was born in the year of the tiger. She is a Kundiman Fellow and a Lambda Literary Award finalist in poetry. Her poems have been anthologized inInk Knows No Borders, Best New Poets 2018, Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3, the 2019 Pushcart Prize Anthology, and elsewhere. Raised in California, she now lives in New York.
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of Harmless Like You and Starling Days. She has won The Authors’ Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask Award and been shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. Her work has been a New York Times Editors’ Choice, an NPR Great Read, and recommended by Oprah Magazine.