The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu


A collection of short stories by a brilliant, bestselling chinese author. It’s a great mix of fantasy, magical realism, fiction and science fiction here, along with chinese elements and culture being central in many stories.


“Time’s arrow if the loss of fidelity in compression. A sketch, not a photograph. A memory is a re-creation, precious because it is both more and less than the original.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Each story is like its own universe and it takes some time to get into it, but it’s very worth it when you’re rereading each story three times in a row and marvel at the nuances, writing and genuine brilliance.

I wondered whether to make small reviews of each story, but I feel like it would give too much away. The best way to get into this book is by knowing it’s incredible and go pick it up right away with little extra info. Still, if you’re not convinced, here’s what you can expect from this collection; stories about “The bookmaking habit of select species”, an AI utopia that you might actually want to live in, hujing; beings who are both fox and human, chinese calligraphy and deadly fear of communism / plain racism, being chinese in america, simulacrums; illusions of people stuck in time, aliens, Guan Yu the chinese god of war visiting America (American Gods vibes from that one, it was awesome), immense sacrifices and a few that will make you teary eyed including about unit 731 and the biological warfare and experimentation in China during WW2.


Some of the stories are incredibly important and heartfelt, like the one about unit 371, based on horrible historical events I’d never heard before. Others are a good mix of that social commentary and entertainment, while some are simply, but not simple, fun fantasies. Everything has layers, so much creativity and originality, I love this book and it’s one of my favourite reads, at least this year. I have to go read more Ken Liu books now.

7 thoughts on “The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

  1. Jenn @ the Bibliofile February 2, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    ooo a friend of mine just recommended this to me too, i feel like this book has been flying a little under the radar but everyone that has read it seems to love it


    • aquapages February 2, 2018 / 1:58 pm

      Yes, I don’t even remember where I saw it first. It’s nice to have short stories that are so different, but under a common theme. Otherwise I mix them together, but not with this one 🙂


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