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The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

A must-have for every science fiction and fantasy fan, this beautiful book is an anthology to savor.

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Featured in the Netflix series Love, Death & Robots

Bestselling author Ken Liu selects his multiple award-winning stories for a groundbreaking collection—including a brand-new piece exclusive to this volume.

With his debut novel, The Grace of Kings, taking the literary world by storm, Ken Liu now shares his finest short fiction in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. This mesmerizing collection features many of Ken’s award-winning and award-finalist stories, including: “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” (Finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards), “Mono No Aware” (Hugo Award winner), “The Waves” (Nebula Award finalist), “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” (Nebula and Sturgeon Award finalists), “All the Flavors” (Nebula Award finalist), “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” (Nebula Award finalist), and the most awarded story in the genre’s history, “The Paper Menagerie” (The only story to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards).

Insightful and stunning stories that plumb the struggle against history and betrayal of relationships in pivotal moments, this collection showcases one of our greatest and original voices.

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really appreciated this one. I read this one for SunBeamsJess Book Club. I’d recommend it to anyone. I’d say those looking for something different, as self-described in the book toward the end, it portrays collected works. Genre distinction of science fiction, alternate history, magical realism, fantasy, noir. Makes for an excellent book club read.

The Story
I suppose from reading the description there is not much really telling about the book apart from accolades so I’d say that this book reads like a sampler variety of writing, anthology of sorts of different writing styles. Speculative fiction, some literary fiction, essay like, sometimes thriller. The telling of historical events, war crimes like U731, the surrounding denial and silence. Cultural nuances, love, human relation, humor, random insight. The future of technology and human response to it.

The book made much more sense to me in the end. Themes described as delving into the past, speaking for the dead, recovering their stories. Forms of telling stories from ideograms and papier-mâché. Storytelling, translation, memory, identity. Mentioning this because it would have helped me understand what the whole collection was and likely would have helped me understand it even more.

Some stories didn’t really have a plot or characters, happenings that I cared as much about, some heart-wrenching. Others, as often with essays, there’s always certain ones that resonate with me more than others, as opposed to a collective whole. Certain ones I was more invested in than others, in this case and overall, I thoroughly felt grateful for this one for its unique approach and the heavy topics it mentioned. And these were told without apology or over-explanation which was key appreciation for me as far as past, present, and future speculation and transparency goes.

The Writing
All the parts of the collection were quite different from each other so it’s difficult to comment on, but I’d say as a collective piece, the running themes, the writing, as story I should say, were all like an interesting experiment tied together in an aha moment for me at the end.

View all my reviews

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