From historical fiction to science fiction, Ken Liu shares the breadth of his imagination in this collection of short stories. In "The Literomancer," an American child living on base in Taiwan defies the impossible and befriends the enemy. And in "The Paper Menagerie," Jack banishes his mother tongue in an effort to assimilate into American culture, but he learns, too late, that his mother tongue is the only tie he has left to his ancestors. In these fifteen stories, Ken Liu both explores and counters the various perceptions of the Asian-American identity.
"I reached out to Mom's creation. Its tail twitched, and it pounced playfully at my finger. 'Rawrr-sa,' it growled, the sound somewhere between a cat and rustling newspapers. I laughed, startled, and stroked its back with an index finger. The paper tiger vibrated under my finger, purring. 'Zhe jiao zhezhi,' Mom said. This is called oragami. I didn't know this at the time, but Mom's kind was special. She breathed into them so that they shared her breath, and thus moved with her life. This was her magic" (Liu 178-179).