NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE • 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.

“Gorgeous and gorgeously grotesque . . . Every line of this sensuous, magical-realist marvel is utterly alive.”—O: The Oprah Magazine


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 afterward, 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.

Praise for Bestiary

“[A] vivid, fabulist debut . . . the prose is full of imagery. Chang’s wild story of a family’s tenuous grasp on belonging in the U.S. stands out with a deep commitment to exploring discomfort with the body and its transformations.”Publishers Weekly
Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, Lesbian Fiction
Longlisted for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
LA Times Best Books of the Year
NPR's Best Books of 2020

The Oprah Magazine Best Books of 2020
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020

The New York Public Library Best Books of 2020
Flipboard’s 2020 “Book of the Fall”

One of:
The New York Times’ “12 new books we recommend
National Book Foundation’s 5 “outstanding debuts from writers under 35”

Fiction’s buzziest books in The Globe and Mail's Fall books preview
Los Angeles Times’s “20 reads book people really want this year”
Electric Lit's “56 Books By Women and Nonbinary Writers of Color to Read in 2020”

Lit Hub's “17 of the Most Anticipated Books by LGBTQIA+ Authors For the Second Half of 2020”
Oprah Magazine’s “LGBTQ Books That Are Changing the Literary Landscape in 2020”
Publishers Weekly's Fall 2020 Writers to Watch
Lit Hubs “Most Anticipated Books of 2020” Bustles Best Books of Fall 2020
Barnes and Noble's Discover Picks of the Month” for October 2020

Praise for Bestiary:

“This book astounded me, unsettled me, and left me envious of K-Ming Chang's talent. Bestiary is a gleaming, meticulously crafted gem. I could spend all day marvelling at Chang's prose; these are sentences you want to climb inside, relish, and read again and again just for the pleasure of the language.”
—Jessica J. Lee, author of Two Trees Make a Forest

Bestiary is shockingly original. K-Ming Chang writes with ferocity and vitality, shaping her raw materials--history and memory, personal and cultural--into a dense, rich amalgam of dream, poem, fable and myth. I didn't read this novel so much as become immersed in it, a jungle filled with surprises, countless moments of desire and pain and light.”
—Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown

“The poet K-Ming Chang’s debut novel, Bestiary, [is] full of magic realism that reaches down your throat, grabs hold of your guts and forces a slow reckoning with what it means to be a foreigner, a native, a mother, a daughter—and all the things in between. . . . [I]n retelling so many of Taiwan’s legends, Chang manages to create new ones. . . . Chang’s poetry lifts her prose, creating a hybrid voice that lends itself well to the magic realism at play throughout the novel. . . . [Bestiary]’s portrait of motherhood stayed with me long after I put it down.”
The New York Times

“Fierce and funny, full of magic and grit, Bestiary is the most searching exploration of love and belonging I’ve read in a long time. Family, immigrant, queer, magic realist—none of these tags can quite capture the energy of this startling novel, which is all of those things, yet somehow more. K-Ming Chang has created something truly remarkable.”
—Tash Aw, author of We, the Survivors

“In Bestiary, K-Ming Chang pays homage to earlier Asian American brilliance while innovating and pushing up against its boundaries. This is an inventive novel that lays bare the beauty and filth of life. That refuses to separate them. Chang shatters our expectations of kinship and legacy and the ways those stories are to be told. Philosophically rich, Bestiary is a debut by a writer we’ll be hearing about for years to come.”
—Jenny Heijun Wills, author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.

“An unflinching examination of unbreakable ties. You may want to look away, but K-Ming Chang won't let you.”
—Thea Lim, author of An Ocean of Minutes

"K-Ming Chang’s prose ravishes, ravages, rampages. This is an absolute lightning strike of a debut. The world grew brighter as I read it."
—Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

“Epic and intimate at once, Bestiary brings myth to visceral life, showing what becomes of women and girls who carry tigers, birds, and fish within. K-Ming Chang’s talent exposes what is hidden inside us. She makes magic on the page.”
—Julia Phillips, author of the National Book Award finalist Disappearing Earth

“To read K-Ming Chang is to see the world in fresh, surreal technicolor. Hers is a dizzyingly imaginative, sharp-witted voice queering migration, adolescence, and questions of family and belonging in totally new and unexpected ways. Both wild and lyrical, visionary and touching. Read her!”
—Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti

“K-Ming Chang is ferociously talented, one of my favorite new writers. She understands the language of desire and secrecy. Here is a book so wise; so gripping; so mythical and dangerous; so infused with surreal beauty, it burns to be read, and read again.”
—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

Bestiary is crafted at the scale of epic poetry: origin stories that feel at once gravely older than their years, yet viscerally contemporary. Chang knows well that the life of a family—marriage, immigration, queer coming-of-age—can so often feel like a wild and tender myth, being spun and unspun by its members, again and again. These are fables I wish I’d had growing up.”
—Elaine Castillo, author of America Is Not the Heart

“Told by many voices, Bestiary is a queer, transnational fairy tale whose irresistible heroine is a Taiwanese American baby dyke. Written in a prose style as inventive and astonishing as the story it tells, to read it is to enter a world where the female body possesses enormous power, where the borders between generations are porous and shifting. A worthy heir to Maxine Hong Kingston, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, and Jamaica Kincaid, K-Ming Chang is a woman warrior for the 21st century—part oracle, part witness, all heart.”
—Jennifer Tseng, author of Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness

Bestiary’s magical and exuberant language spins Taiwan, ancestors, intergenerational trauma, immigration, and love into a world that is simultaneously mythical and viscerally real. This searing, lush novel can’t be justly summarized—you must read it yourself, for K-Ming Chang is a fearless, singular talent.”
—Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Green Island

“[A] fabulist debut in the vein of Helen Oyeyemi. . .”
—The Globe and Mail

“A visceral book that promises a major new literary voice.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Every line of this sensuous, magical-realist marvel—about multiple generations of Taiwanese-American women in Arkansas whose lives are imbued with cultural and familial myth—is utterly alive.”
Oprah Magazine

“[A] vivid, fabulist debut . . . the prose is full of imagery. Chang’s wild story of a family’s tenuous grasp on belonging in the U.S. stands out with a deep commitment to exploring discomfort with the body and its transformations.”
Publishers Weekly

“[A] sensuous, twisty, gorgeous debut novel . . . The story is woven in the divine, precise, and melodic prose of a poet, which Chang is, and will burrow into you like an animal.”
Lit Hub

“[A] spell-binding debut . . .”
—Lambda Literary

“K-Ming Chang’s debut novel, Bestiary, bursts open like delicious fruit on the edge of rot. Believe me when I say that’s a good thing. . . . Chang not only ups the intersectional ante but also raises the stakes with vivid, earthy language. . . . Her lyrical imagery promises a better future, and Bestiary promises more great work to come from K-Ming Chang.”
Los Angeles Times

“[In Bestiary,] Chang's facility for making even mundane or traumatic events beautiful with words is a reminder that stories are, among other things, some of our very best survival tools.”

“[A] unique debut novel . . .”
IN Magazine  

“Chang’s mix of the real and the surreal allows for a sense of hope. . . . Bestiary is about the echoes of yesterday butting heads with the realities of today, and the work of a young writer whose stories I hope will continue to grab us in the years to come.”
Slant Magazine

“There are so many lines throughout [Bestiary] and in [Chang’s] short fiction too—the ways in which [she] describe[s] certain images or feelings—that feel really visceral in the way poetry can be.”
—PEN America

“This strange and stunning debut by K-Ming Chang is a singular combination of family epic and folkloric myth. . . . Chang's writing is fierce and tensile, the perfect tool for unspooling this magical story that addresses the very real issues surrounding identity, trauma, alienation, and desire.”

“Its prose is relentlessly, ruthlessly corporeal, and it is fearlessly beautiful. Told from the point of view of Daughter, a Taiwanese American early-adolescence girl, the book deftly threads together three generations of women with each other, land, water, trauma, violence, and love. . . ."
Lambda Literary

“[A] whimsical . . . myth-twisting novel.”

“With an extraordinary hand and a dose of magical realism, Chang's debut novel paints a captivating picture of three Taiwanese American women and the cultural stories that inform their lives.”

“[A] mythical debut. A tale of queer desire and family secrets, Bestiary is a kaleidoscopic tale of the women in this family as the youngest eventually finds herself in America decades later.”
Electric Lit

“[A] gorgeous debut. . . . [Bestiary] is magical realism at its realest.”
Los Angeles Times

"K-Ming Chang’s debut novel is one wild romp. It follows three generations of Taiwanese-American women, infusing their lives with the fantastical. Inside Bestiary, you will find: a tiger woman hungry for children, a woman pregnant with snakes, and a grandmother’s letters appearing through holes in the yard. K-Ming Chang operates with a poet’s touch, and the images she conjures here have real staying power."
Lit Hub

“[Chang’s] experience as a poet is ever-present in [Bestiary]’s prose—in how shockingly perfect her line breaks are, how every simile forces you to pause for a moment. . . . Bestiary is about the echoes of yesterday butting heads with the realities of today, and the work of a young writer whose stories I hope will continue to grab us in the years to come.”

“Chang’s novel is like no other I have ever read. She reinvents the genres of immigrant novel, queer coming-of-age story, and mother-and-daughter tale at every level. . . . Chang’s greatest accomplishment in Bestiary may be that her artistry allows the reader to see her characters’ great resilience rather than merely their pain.”
Star Tribune

“This is a powerful novel that will sit inside you for days after reading.” 
Sunday Times