About the book

A patient escapes from an asylum to spend his life as the perfect mannequin in a store display; a luckless man transforms himself into a chair so people can, literally, sit on him; after living alone is outlawed, a woman who resides quietly with her cat is assigned a role in an artificial “family.” 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 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.

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Excerpts

The nurse repeated what the doctor had said, and pulled a key out of an envelope: “We’ve arranged new housing for you. In addition to basic furnishings, the unit is also equipped with a father, a mother-in-law, a husband and a younger brother.” She wrote down the address and told me for the third time: “Go there and concentrate on getting better. Nothing is more important than health.”

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About the author

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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. Hon's intensely psychological stories portray the inner struggles of characters who are desperately searching for meaning in everyday existence. To Hon’s characters, the “way out” lies in 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.

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About the translator

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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.


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