Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu


Since selling his first short story in 2002, Ken Liu has published almost a hundred more of them, many of them in the past four years. Within genre circles, it’s been nearly impossible to miss his fantastic short fiction, which has appeared in most every major genre outlet (and nominated for most every major genre honor). Now, with his debut novel, The Grace of Kings, coming in April, Saga Press is set to release Liu’s first collection of short stories.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories collects some of the best of Liu’s expansive body of short fiction, and is due out on November 3rd, 2015. The astounding cover, inspired by the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy award-winning title story is beautiful, minimalist, and striking all at once.

The full cover and table of contents appear after the blurb, and then read on for thoughts from Liu and his editor, Joe Monti:

Ken Liu has quickly become one of the most original and thought-provoking story writers of his generation. Deftly riffing off the power of narrative, this collection is as heartbreaking as it is charming.

In “Simulacrum,” the daughter of the revered inventor of augmented reality is irrevocably divided from her father by the technology that is meant to help her be closer to him. In the title story, “The Paper Menagerie,” a child loses touch with the magical paper menagerie built for him by his mother, a mail-order bride in suburban Connecticut, but then discovers as an adult that love knows no bounds. A young man struggling to preserve his culture in the face of utter annihilation finds peace in the transcendence of fleeting memory in “Mono No Aware.” As a couple explores one of the hidden atrocities of the Second World War, they try to speak for those who no longer can in “The Man Who Ended History.” And in “An Advanced Reader’s Picture Book of Comparative Cognition,” a mother and father who are separated by vast distances must invoke, for their children, a thousand ways love may take form

These fifteen evocative short stories and novellas tour the poignant history that always haunts immigrants, survivors of war and our consistent technological advances as they are explored through love, race, and politics. An award-winning author, Liu and his stories invoke the magical within the mundane in profound and moving ways.

Paper Menagerie his rez

And here’s the full list of stories:

  • Preface
  • The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species
  • State Change
  • The Perfect Match
  • Good Hunting
  • The Literomancer
  • Simulacrum
  • The Regular
  • The Paper Menagerie
  • An Advanced Readers Picture Book of Comparative Cognition
  • The Waves
  • Mono no aware
  • All the Flavors
  • A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel
  • The Litigation Master and the Monkey King
  • The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary

In considering the tales assembled here for the first time, Liu noted that he, “was surprised by how much I remembered of what I was thinking about at the time of writing them—memories that often are not obviously connected to the stories themselves, yet resonant in some way. It was like looking through an album of old snapshots of my mind.”

It was a challenge to narrow down the final table of contents from a catalogue of dozens of stories. Liu said he and Monti, “looked through the list of stories I’ve published over the years and tried to pick out the ‘best’ ones, going by a combination of criteria such as awards, award nominations, and how we felt about the stories after the benefit of some distance in time.”

For his part, Monti said that pulling out just 15 stories for the collection was difficult. “This is not a ‘Best of Ken Liu,'” he said. “[It’s] more a representation of the themes and voices that his work has explored.”

The collection includes a new story, “An Advanced Reader’s Picture Book of Comparative Cognition,” which Liu called his, “favorite out of all the short stories I’ve written.” He’s also excited for the book: “It’s great to be able to offer readers who are new to my fiction, or who have read only a few stories, a convenient selection of the best non-novel work I’ve done in a well-designed package.”

Monti echoed Liu’s thoughts: “I think it ranks up there with the greatest collections of the field, alongside Le Guin, Butler, and Sturgeon. If you enjoy George Saunders, read Ken Liu.”

We’re very excited to get our hands on this book. Liu’s stories are an enormous delight, and this collection will be a must-buy. “The Paper Menagerie” ranks with our favorite stories of all time, and looking over the table of contents, it looks like this will be a collection to revisit time and again.

Pre-order The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, available November 3, 2015.

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