The Kite Family


Hon Lai-chu; translated by Andrea Lingenfelter

ISBN : 978-988-16047-9-8

Literary Studies Other Distributed Titles

November 2015

236 pages, 5.75″ x 8.25″

  • HK$140.00

A patient escapes from an asylum to spend his life as the perfect mannequin in a department store display; when living alone is outlawed, a woman who resides quietly with her cat is assigned by bureaucrats to a role in an artificially created “family”; a luckless man transforms himself into a chair so people can, literally, sit on him. These are just a few of the inhabitants of Hon Lai-chu’s stories, where surreal charac-ters 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 named one of 2008’s Books of the Year by Taiwan’s China Times, was selected as one of the Top 10 Chinese Novels Worldwide, and was awarded a Translation Grant from the US National Endowment for the Arts.

Hon Lai-chu won the Hong Kong Biennial Award for Chinese Literature for fiction with her first anthology of short stories, Silent Creature. Her subsequent work, The Kite Family 風箏家族, won the New Writer’s Novella first prize from Taiwan’s Unitas Literary Association and was named one of the Books of the Year by China Times in Taiwan. The Kite Family, as well as her latest work Grey Flower 灰花, was selected as one of the Top 10 Chinese Novels Worldwide. Hon’s other Chinese novels include Body-Sewing 縫身 and The Border of Centrifugation 離心帶, and her most recent short story collection is Losing Caves 失去洞穴. Andrea Lingenfelter is a poet, translator, and scholar of Chinese literature. In addition to The Kite Family, her translations include The Changing Room: Selected Poetry of Zhai Yongming and the novels Farewell My Concubine and Candy. Her poetry translations have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including Granta, Chinese Literature Today, Pathlight, Zoland Poetry Annual, Mantis, Frontier Taiwan, and Chicago Review. She is currently translating Scent of Heaven, a historical novel by Wang Anyi, and is working with Hong Kong-based writer Cao Shuying on translations of Cao’s poetry. She teaches Chinese literature at the University of San Francisco.

The Kite Family showcases the work of Hon Lai-chu, a wildly creative Hong Kong writer. The stories, elegantly translated by Andrea Lingenfelter, range from the torn-from-the-headlines dystopian anxieties of ‘Notes on an Epidemic’ to the more surrealistic ‘Forrest Woods, Chair,’ which takes themes from Kafka’s Metamorphosis in an engagingly novel direction. The book benefits greatly from an introduction by Lingenfelter, which both explains her approach to rendering Hon’s prose into English and shows how the author’s stories fit into Hong Kong’s fascinating and globally too-little-known literary landscape.” —Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know

“Evocatively written and expertly translated, these Hong Kong stories will draw you into Hon Lai-chu’s surreal and yet recognizable world.” —Howard Goldblatt, translator of Nobel laureate Mo Yan