The Kite Family
6 short stories by Hon Lai-chu (韓麗珠)
Paperback, 232 pages, English
Publication date November 2015
A patient escapes from an asylum, to spend his life as the perfect mannequin in a department store display; a girl from an obese family achieves her dream of drifting into the sky as a kite; when living alone is outlawed, a woman who resides quietly with her cat is assigned by bureaucrats to a role in an artificially created “family;” a timid, luckless man transforms himself into a chair so people can, literally, sit on him. These are just a few of the inhabitants of Hon Lai-chu’s stories, where surreal characters struggle to carve out space for freedom and individuality in an absurd world. The Chinese version of The Kite Family won the New Writer’s Novella first prize from Taiwan’s Unitas Literary Association, was one of 2008’s Books of the Year according to Taiwan’s China Times, was selected as one of the Top 10 Chinese Novels Worldwide, and was awarded a Translation Grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts.
About the author
Critics have called Hon Lai-chu “the most outstanding young author in Hong Kong.” Her clean, absurd and abstract style is often compared to Franz Kafka. Her intensely psychological stories often reflect her characters’ inner struggles for freedom, against the futility of attempts to find meaning in everyday existence. To Hon’s characters, the “way out” lies in transformation that comes from overturning established identities.
She has authored eight books and won numerous awards, including the Hong Kong Biennial Award for Chinese Literature for fiction, Taiwan’s Unitas New Writer’s Novella first prize, and the Hong Kong Book Prize. Her books have twice been named to the list of Top Ten Chinese Novels Worldwide, in 2008 and 2009. She was a 2010 resident at the University of Iowa International Writing Program.
About the translator
Andrea Lingenfelter is a poet, translator, and scholar of Chinese literature. In addition to The Kite Family (Muse, 2015), her book-length translations include The Changing Room: Selected Poetry of Zhai Yongming (Zephyr, 2011) and the novels Farewell My Concubine (Wm. Morrow and Co., 1993) and Candy (Back Bay Books, 2003). Her translations of poetry written by modern and contemporary Sinophone writers have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including Granta, Chinese Literature Today, Pathlight, Zoland Poetry Annual, Mantis, Frontier Taiwan, Sailing to Formosa, and Chicago Review. Ms. Lingenfelter received an NEA Translation Grant for The Kite Family. She is currently translating Scent of Heaven, a historical novel by Shanghai novelist Wang Anyi, for Penguin, and she is also working with Hong Kong based writer Cao Shuying on translations of Cao’s poetry. She teaches Chinese literature at the University of San Francisco.