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In the fictional Chinese city of Yong’an, an amateur cryptozoologist is commissioned to uncover the stories of its fabled beasts. These creatures live alongside humans in near-inconspicuousness—save their greenish skin, serrated earlobes, and strange birthmarks.
Aided by her elusive former professor and his enigmatic assistant, our narrator sets off to document each beast, and is slowly drawn deeper into a mystery that threatens her very sense of self.
Part detective story, part metaphysical enquiry, Strange Beasts of China engages existential questions of identity, humanity, love and morality with whimsy and stylistic verve.
“I loved the novel—charged with melancholy surrealism, its preoccupations with being and loneliness are both timeless and all too timely. The translation by Jeremy Tiang is especially brilliant and engaging.” —Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
“A thought-provoking read on its own merit, the book takes on added significance given that it is an early work by Yan, whose talent is clear, raw and electrifying.” —Post Magazine
"Playful and darkly subtle . . . The world shown here is full of chaos and vulnerability . . . You could choose to despair at this, or take hope that Yan Ge cares enough to write tenderly about it." —The Irish Times
“If Yan’s book was simply a selection of surreal vignettes centered around the beasts, a la Jorge Luis Borges or Italo Calvino, it would likely be compelling enough . . . The novel as a whole abounds with moments where vivid imagery coincides with an ever-present sense of danger.” —tor.com
“What appears to be a postmodern series of fantastic fables morphs into something more unexpected, expertly crafted by Yan Ge: an obscure mediation on the wildness of everyday existence, an evocative, bizarre consideration of the fragile boundaries between the self and the world beyond.” —The Skinny