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.
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
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.
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 Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages and girlhood.