Book Review: Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Title: Bestiary
By: K-Ming Change
Genre: Magical Realism/Fiction
Pages: 272
Release Date: September 8th, 2020
Publisher: One World
Rating: ★★★★☆

Summary from Goodreads:

Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family's queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.

One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman’s body. She was called Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with snakes in her belly; a brother tests the possibility of flight. All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighborhood girl with strange powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies a myth–and that she will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.

With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K-Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the subversive storytelling of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family’s history from Taiwan to America, from Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages, and girlhood.


I enjoyed this book. It was different than most the books I've read recently, which was a nice change. The characters had some strange but wonderful things happening to them and I was intrigued by this. There were a few things that caught my attention, like how often people peed their pants. And the fact that everyone talked about bowl movements and penises like it was a normal conversational subject. The one thing that really struck me as odd was how the rain was always F*ing their mouths. Its a strange visual I can't even wrap my head around. 

If you are not OK with potty language being a passive conversational piece, then don't read this book, but for the rest of you rebels who snicker anytime someone says penis, then please, pick up this really interesting read. You won't regret it. 

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

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