The Delightfully Strange Short Fiction of Dorothy Tse

Snow and Shadow

(Note: much of this was included in my review on Goodreads, but this book is so exceptional that I wanted to give it a bit more attention here.)

One of the best parts of getting invited to moderate a panel discussion at a convention or literary festival is encountering the work of writers you might not have ordinarily come across. Such was the case with Dorothy Tse, who appeared on one of my panels at the 2017 George Town Literary Festival.

Tse writes in Chinese and reads in Cantonese, and is highly regarded for her stories in her native Hong Kong. However, those of us who read in English now have the extraordinary fortune to have Nicky Harman’s lyrical translation of Snow and Shadow, an extraordinary collection of oneiric pieces that feel at home next to the best of Angela Carter and Kelly Link.

Tse draws from a deep well of dreamlike imagery and delightfully strange premises, such as men bartering body parts for sexual favours, a father donating his head to his son when the young man’s goes missing, an apartment block where the units never stay in the same location, and a wife slowly transforming into a fish. As well, the title story is the most remarkable retelling of Snow White since Neil Gaiman’s “Snow Glass Apples.”

I LOVED this collection, and highly recommend it to anyone into surreal and strange short fiction. It was far and away my favourite book read in 2017. Check out these reviews at Words Without Borders and World Literature Today, and read Tse’s interview answers for The PEN Ten.

Dorothy Tse’s is a voice that deserves a wide and appreciative audience. However you can find this book, do so; you’ll thank me.

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