The Paper Menagerie

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

5/5 Stars

This is a collection of science fiction/speculative fiction short stories featuring Chinese folklore and history.

This was an amazing short story collection! And that does not come from me lightly, I usually do not care for short stories and I usually find it difficult to connect to the story in that short of a space. These stories were full and rich, the worlds and people were fully developed and I forgot that these were only short stories, each piece felt complete and whole. Each story felt unique as well and had its own voice. Though I chose to read it spread out over a length of time, it would be just as well consumed all at once as each story was unique and stood out on its own and they would not blend together.  The writing was absolutely beautiful and lyrical, I think you would enjoy his collection even if you are a bit intimidated by the science fiction/fantasy elements it seems to be a good bridge to Literary Fiction. So many of the stories were very thought provoking and had me thinking about them long after I was done. There was repeated themes of culture and traditions and how to preserve them from dying out, from being the last person of Japanese decent on a spaceship full of the remainder of humanity, to the dying magic of folklore and magic in the form of a girl who turns into a fox. There are also themes of historical events being lost or inaccurate, hiding the true events in a book that is missing, or going back in time to find the truth. I really liked how at the end of each story there was a footnote about how the story related to real events or people and where you could find more information.

I would recommend this to almost anyone, it is one of those unique books that I think crosses genre divides and has a little bit that everyone could enjoy. Even if you are afraid of short stories like me give it a shot!

oragami