Publication Date: May 28, 2024
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A "sly and spirited" fabulist debut collection of stories re-imagining the nine-tailed fox spirit of Asian folklore (C Pam Zhang).
A fox spirit avenges a teen girl by seducing her abuser. A shapeshifting woman finds herself chased through the woods by fox hunters; meanwhile, an assassination plot called Operation Fox Hunt unfolds against the last Queen of Korea. Chinese migrants hoping to make new lives as “paper children” in America find their pasts—and their hopes for the future—embodied in the foxes that haunt the harbor in 1900s Angel Island. In the nine tales of Ninetails, acclaimed poet Sally Wen Mao reimagines the fox spirit from Asian folklore—a shapeshifter, shaman, and seductress—as an icon of vengeance, solidarity and liberation. The characters of her stories are varied—from silicone sex dolls who come to life with new purpose, to women whose crushes manifest as stones—but they all reach for a common purpose: to find truth and belonging in a difficult world determined to consider them alien.
With the fabulist vibrancy of Carmen Maria Machado, the sinuous world-building of Helen Oyeyemi, and the sensuous feminist rage of Han Kang, Ninetails is both timeless—unearthing a cultural icon whose origins date back over a thousand years—and timely in its contemporary political urgency.
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