PODCAST

A Tale of Myth and Metaphor

BY MEGAN LABRISE • October 6, 2020

A Taiwanese American girl grows a tiger tail in K-Ming Chang’s marvelous debut.

On this week’s episode, sponsored in part by Abrams Books for Young Readers, novelist K-Ming Chang discusses Bestiary (One World, Sept. 29), the story of a Taiwanese American family that settles in California by way of Arkansas, told in alternating perspectives by three generations of women. Longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, Bestiary is “a visceral book that promises a major new literary voice,” Kirkus writes.

From our starred review: “When the daughter and her brother dig a series of holes in the rank soil of their backyard, the holes become mouths, open and hungry. When the daughter is beaten for this infraction by her mother—enacting a violence more typical of [the grandmother]—a tiger tail with its own vituperative will grows from one of the scabs.”

Chang and host Megan Labrise discuss her incredulity at being named one of the National Book Foundations’ 5 Under 35 honorees; the story of Hu Gu Po (Aunt Tiger) and how it inspired the novel; queer genealogies and her characters’ desires; the book’s “palpitating” language and distinctive vocabulary; and whether there’s a moral to the story.

Then editors Vicky Smith, Eric Liebetrau, and Laurie Muchnick join with their reading recommendations for the week.

 

Editors’ picks:

There Must Be More Than That! by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Chronicle Books)

His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham (Random House)

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Also mentioned in this episode:

The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Chronicle Books)

March by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)

 

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

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