Cover Image: Gods of Want

Gods of Want

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Amazing and unique! I loved this so much! I went and bought a copy just to always have. I just loved how bold these stories were! Loved it!

Was this review helpful?

Some of these were inspiring and enjoyable, and I appreciated the writing, while others took a sharp left turn and had repetitive phrases, imagery that wasn't enjoyable, and odd stories that I just couldn't get into. I appreciate what she was doing with this but it mostly just wasn't my thing, despite all the odds being stacked for me to enjoy this.

Was this review helpful?

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this collection of short stories, and I was joyfully surprised. Although it is all prose, it is surrealist and fantastical and lyrical in such a way that it often read as poetry, and I devoured the stories. Although the stories are hypothetically independent, the overwhelming majority of them are written in the first person, and although the narrators of each story may have different names or family relationships and so on, they all still felt connected. It felt like reading a fantastical, fictionalized auto-biography that had been fed through a wood-chipper and fed to birds to warble as they flew above a community of love, loss, flesh, grief, violence, longing, despair, and hope, singing songs of mournful elegies and operatic youthful discoveries and the joy of being seen and known as something truer than what most people think you to be, even when it took trauma or grief to unearth that person before celebrating them.

It’s hard to say much else. While some stories felt stronger to me than others, by and large I enjoyed the writing style, the weirdness, the repression, the longing dripping from each comma. It just worked, and pointed at things more important than historical fact or truth when understanding the story of being. Some stories, some lines, some phrases, some ideas struck me really deep, enough to easily swim past the moments that didn’t connect to me at that moment. Enough that I had to stop and read them again, and again.

“Sometimes she’ll leave him a plate of fish outside the door with no chopsticks and say, 'Let him eat like a dog.' I fall asleep waiting by the door and wake to the scrape of his nails against the plate, a pitch higher than prayer. I don’t yet know how to name the shame of that sound. I can only wait silently on the other side of his hunger.”

If you are hoping for little independent stories with clear-cut protagonists and plots and so forth, this collection may not add up to a whole lot for you. But when read as one single, weird biography understood through differently darkened mirrors it really shines. Each story is populated with characters, family and friends, that all feel very real, even when only a few details are offered to each. The phantasmagorical creates the perfect place for genuine authenticity, a reality unable to find itself in straight narration. If that’s a journey you’re willing to take, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I want to thank NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House, One World, who provided a complimentary eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

K-Ming Chang has a way with prose and dark humor. Gods of Want is filled with poignant stories about identity- race, sexuality, ethnicity- and family. Every sentence is so beautiful and I wanted to highlight the entire book. Chang’s identities shape the way she sees the world and influences the stories she tells, with an added weird, unsettling, sort of dystopian vibe to them. I’m so excited to tell my coworkers about this one!

Was this review helpful?

queer, visceral, and surreal – K-Ming Chang built off of everything I loved from BESTIARY, and spun a dozen new tales that I devoured whole. This collection is best suited for a slow read, though, to let each story unfold as it will.

Was this review helpful?

This short story collection feels like a fever dream: it’s abstract, surreal, and poetic in a way that makes you question what’s real and what’s imagined. The writing is beautiful and unapologetic. At times, the stories are highly jarring, disturbing, and crude. I loved that this collection explored sexuality, womanhood, death, and family. Although this is a unique collection with lush descriptions, I don’t feel like I was the demographic for this book. It will absolutely find its audience, as it deserves, but for me, a lot of the stories went over my head and nothing ever felt tangible. I’m glad I read it and will pick up any future stories from Chang in hopes maybe future work will connect with me more than this one!

My favorite stories were Auntland, Nuwa, Xifu, Homophone, and Mariela.

Thank you Random House, One World, and Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for my honest review!

Was this review helpful?

A collection of short stories brimming with imagination. Surreal, strange, vivid, gay, sometimes just plain old weird. K Ming Chang is a huge talent. A collection best savored slowly.

Was this review helpful?

Chang's stories are vibrant and have the flow of poetry, the lilt of songs and the sombre sound of grief. The women and girls on these pages are defined and indefinable; they are sisters, mothers, lovers, nieces, and in-laws. The ways in which Chang centres these beings really speaks to how their strength, perseverance, hard work and desires are tethers for family, relationships, and societies.

With each story there are ways of being and existing that are culturally specific but also recognizable. What can be lost in emigrating and who and what is kept? Chang also uses phrases that are cryptic yet encapsulate what it means to be othered, to be queer, and to exist in a world where certain identities are derided and not accepted.

These stories roam from the fantastical to our shared realities and to a mirrored realism where nature rebels and everything is flipped upside down. Not all are smooth reads, but there are those that are infused with style and verve.

Was this review helpful?

Gods of Want is a collection of short stories written by K-Ming Chang, whose Bestiary took the literary world by storm back in 2020. This time, Chang explores the themes of family, ghosts, queerness, and culture. The main characters are all Asian or Asian American women and their female perspective works incredibly well with the magical realism and fantasy elements of the plot. It’s difficult to explain or even describe the stories properly, because they’re hauntingly surreal, to the point that at times they feel like fever dreams. Even though that surrealism sometimes verges on being confusing and might be an acquired taste for some, I loved it. It made the stories feel more intimate and the images that Chang created will stay with me for a long time. I was fascinated by the eerie strangeness combined with beautiful prose, and I can’t wait for Chang’s next work.

TLDR: Gods of Want is a stunning, immersive collection that completely pulled me in. If you enjoy lyrical, dream-like stories that aren’t always easy, you will love it too.

Was this review helpful?

Overall, this book made me feel a lot of feelings. It was definitely a lot most of the time but it was intriguing to read and I definitely recommend it highly. I think all the short stories were excellent on their own, but also fit cohesively together
The title was fantastic.
Prose is absolutely gorgeous and
I love how the stories are distinct, but also somehow connected
I love the imagery and details, especially in the second story
I thought the supernatural elements being treated as a natural part of the world was so, so fascinating. There wasn't any huge, long backstory given which was perfect
The book is very heavy but doesn't dwell on intense topics like suicide, instead choosing to focus on the main themes of each story while acknowledging the weight of these terrible events.
I like how each story has its own individual arc, if it is structured in a narrative arc and the others don't need to have one to be whole and complete (ie the first story was more of a poem)

I wish there were paragraph break sin the first story because sometimes things just flowed together and I couldn't pay attention to individual lines unless I went back and reread it a couple times which wasn't enjoyable. I understand this is a cool stylistic choice but it felt like a lot in my opinion.
I wanted more development in a couple of the stories. I know they're short but sometimes it felt rushed

Was this review helpful?

DNF at 25%. The writing is incredibly evocative and a mastery of surrealism, but the repeated disturbing imagery was too much for me.

Was this review helpful?

Interesting work from an author I don't know enough about yet. I'm interested to see what else I can pick up from her.

Was this review helpful?


there is something so personal to me about these stories — maybe because i read them entrenched in yilan's molten heat, or maybe it's the beehive excavated from my walls or the hometown buffet trips of my childhood. either way, reading gods of want was a little like feeling known.

i can't remember how i stumbled across this arc but i'm immensely grateful for it. chang is an absolutely moving, stunning writer that unscaffolds the boundaries of prose and verse. strange and ominous and beautiful, gods of want strikes deeply with the ferocity of its idiosyncrasies, the poetry of its surrealism. while anomalous and therefore at times impenetrable, i'm looking forward to coming back to it again and learning from it. natural violence, gaysian yearning, paranormal ontologies — there is so much to unspool from this collection. chang is an absolutely incandescent writer, and i'm excited to read more.

Much thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I didn't realize...or perhaps remember when I picked this title that it was a collection rather than a novel, but I'm glad it was. Short stories are such a good way to experience an unfamiliar author's different styles and capabilities, and K-Ming Chang didn't disappoint.

This collection mostly centers around the raw truths of being a queer woman in modern society. There is heavy cultural significance in almost all the stories as well, plus family and, well, just *living*. As in any collection, there are stories that I felt were extremely powerful and some I felt were weaker, but on the whole, K-Ming Chang has crafted a really fabulous collection here. It took me a while to work my way through all stories -- something like 15 or 16 of them? -- but it's completely worth taking your time to really feel the individual stories and let them sit with you.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely enjoyed reading this collection of short stories. K-Ming’s prose is poetic, haunting, and gorgeous. The stories ebb and flow beautifully, mixing myths and stories of migration, bodies, and queerness.

There were some stories that I sat with before moving on with the rest of the book, like “The Chorus of Dead Cousins” and “Resident Aliens.”

After reading this, I was left so emotional. What a powerful book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House / One World for providing me this ARC. This book comes out on July 12!

Was this review helpful?

“Meimei asked me how come the blood was just coming now, and I said sometimes with a death there’s a delayed reaction, like sometimes it takes a long time for the blood to come back once it’s been cut loose. It doesn’t want to come back, to be bricked inside a body, to be shown a shape. It wants to snake away and breed with other red things.”

A great collection unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s smart, witty, and beautifully written. It covers a large range of complex issues in innovative and surrealistic ways, while always placing its characters and their relationships at the center of the story. There are so many things happening in every story that it can be a little overwhelming or chaotic at times, although everything feels essential. In fact, I think some of them could have been a bit longer, some of the themes expanded on. I preferred the first section, “Mothers,” to the more experimental sections “Myths” and “Moths.” The lyricism of the prose, although beautiful, sometimes left me wanting more.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!

At turns captivating and cringe-worthy, Gods of Want is evocative and poetic. I found this title best read while barely lucid myself before bed, my own consciousness fading in and out with the narrator's winding stories -- disoriented and being pulled under, suddenly I'd snap to in a fit of queer recognition.

Chang's writing is effective and commanding in ways that feel both satisfying and gratuitous. I'm hot-and-cold with short stories generally, so I'm always hesitant to give an overall impression of a collection like this, but I will say that across the board she is a master at crafting imagery that seems to defy the senses and yet feel viscerally true.

Was this review helpful?

K-Ming Chang is, according to an interview in The Rumpus, a “beacon of Gen Z excellence” and is one of those people who make me feel bad about how little I’ve done with my life ( She already has a poetry collection and a novel out—Bestiary, which was published in 2020. Gods of Want is her first full-length short-story collection. I originally planned on reviewing this for Strange Horizons because I’m a fan, but another reviewer at the magazine beat me to the punch and got dibs first. No hard feelings haha.

Where is the line between real and imaginary, and what kind of truths do the stories that our families pass down, even the most absurd ones, contain? What lessons do queer daughters learn from their mothers? Gods of Want takes a stab at answering these questions. Chang uses a surreal, fabulist lens to examine the Taiwanese American and Chinese American immigrant experiences. From the ghosts of dead cousins in “The Chorus of the Dead” following around a newly married couple to a girl who becomes something akin to a mermaid following a flood in “Dykes,” she skillfully uses imagery to make myths of the lives of ordinary first and second generation immigrants, many of which are queer women.

The collection is organized into three sections: “Mothers,” “Myths,” and “Moths.” The “Mothers” section is more accurately about relationships between older women and the younger generation. Specifically, the central relationships in this section are those where women are at the center: mothers and daughters, mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, and aunts and nieces. “Myths” is concerned with the stories, both true and false, passed down to the second generation in these immigrant families. Gods of Want is concerned with ghosts and how they affect their family in the present, and nowhere is this more obvious as it is in the section “Moths.” As explained in the first story of “Moths,” “Resident Aliens,” moths in Chinese folklore contain the souls of the dead, and all the stories in this section are about literal and figurative ghosts.

Gods of Want stretches traditional genre labels, eschewing them in favor of telling truths about families and the stories and worlds passed down between generations. The boundary between what is real and what is mythical or fable is somewhere between hazy to nonexistent in Chang's stories. Reading them is a bit of a trust fall, and Chang successfully brings together wildly disparate elements into cohesive stories.

Was this review helpful?

Did not finish this short story collection. I was really looking forward to reading this but the stories made me quite uncomfortable. This may have been the intent of the author but it just wasn't for me.

Was this review helpful?

i'm afraid the surrealism in this collection defeated me. i loved the first three stories (the ones i read) for their writing and their originality and brilliance, but i don't have in me the mental bandwidth for a whole book of surrealist stories. so very sorry.

Was this review helpful?