A March 2016 Release: The Kite Family


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 torn-from-the-headlines dystopian anxieties of Notes on an Epidemic to the more surrealistic Forrest Wood Chair, which takes themes from Kafka’s Metamorphosis in an engagingly novel direction.”—Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of China in the 21st Century

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

From one of Hong Kong’s most outstanding young authors comes THE KITE FAMILY, a collection of stories by Hon Lai-chu that pulls us into strange worlds that lie beneath the surface of our own. With an imagination to match Aimee Bender and Haruki Murakami, Hon Lai-chu, who writes in spare, elegant prose, takes us deep into a surrealistic world that is a skewed reflection of our own, at once recognizable and off-kilter. 

The absurdity of life is Hon’s primary subject, and while her characters might appear to live outside politics, where economic survival is paramount and modernization and its discontents are the biggest problems, politics is a constant presence, a threat that lurks offstage.  Her characters are not always directly ensnared by bureaucracy but its illogicality and arbitrariness dog their every step. 

As readers navigate their way through the threads of surrealism, they will find themselves hand-in-hand with characters who are filled with spiritual unease and live in a world where no one is responsible, yet everyone suffers.

  • “Forrest Woods, Chair” compels us to ask whether it’s possible for us to maintain our humanity in an era of diminishing opportunities, when market forces threaten to dehumanize us all.

  • “Spoiled Brains” and “Front Teeth” delve into the commodification of human beings, issues of migration and xenophobia, deformity, family dysfunction and thoughtless cruelty.

  • “Notes on an Epidemic” calls to mind the SARS, H5N1, and Ebola outbreaks in recent years, but in this case the contagion becomes an excuse for the authorities—faceless and unaccountable—to engage in social engineering 

Themes of family, individualism, self-actualization, societal pressure, and global capitalism are heavy forces in this collection. Hon Lai-chu calls into question what parts of our lives are worth sacrificing and which are not.

Hon Lai-chu’s first full-length book in English, THE KITE FAMILY brings a striking and distinctive voice to contemporary literature. Renowned translator Andrea Lingenfelter (known for her translation of Lillian Lee’s famous Notes from a Concubine) has brought another masterpiece to extraordinary life, preserving the care and imagination of Hon Lai-chu’s writing while seamlessly incorporating the utilities of the English language. Deeply infused with vibrant imagery and subtle wit, Hon Lai-chu’s stunning stories create the atmosphere of a lucid dream that is simultaneously absurd and poignant.


Critics have called Hon Lai-Chu “the most outstanding young author in Hong Kong." 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 been twice named to the list of Top Ten Chinese Novels Worldwide, in 2008 and 2009.  Her 2006 story “The Kite Family” won the New Writer’s Novella first prize from Taiwan’s Unitas Literary Association; the extended version was named one of 2008’s Best Books of the Year by Taiwan’s China Times. The Kite Family, as well as her next work, Gray Flower, were selected as Top 10 Chinese Novels Worldwide by Taiwan’s China Times. A Dictionary of Two Cities, which she co-authored with Dorothy Tse, was published in 2013, and earned the Hong Kong Book Prize. Hon, 36 years of age, was born in Hong Kong in 1978. She was a 2010 resident at the University of Iowa International Writing Program.  


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