Author: K-Ming Chang
Publisher: One World
Released: September 29th, 2020
Warnings: Domestic violence, poverty
I received a copy of Bestiary in exchange for a fair and honest review.
K-Ming Chang’s debut novel, Bestiary is a tale of culture, exploration, family legends, and so much more.
In many ways, Bestiary is a novel that defies description. Any description not written by K-Ming Chang won’t truly do justice to the novel, as it will be incapable of capturing her unique and captivating writing style.
Three generations of Taiwanese-Americans have their stories unfold over the course of this novel. Their triumphs, their losses, and all of the oddities in between. This is a richly detailed book, full of their dreams, fantasies, and all of the moments that make them the unique beings they are.
“My mother always says that the story you believe depends on the body you’re in. What you believe will depend on the color of your hair, your word for god, how many times you’ve been born, your zip code, whether you have health insurance, what your first language is, and how many snakes you have known personally.”
Bestiary is such a unique and beautiful novel, I’m honestly struggling to find the words to describe it myself. Certainly anything I come up with will pale in comparison to K-Ming Chang’s writing.
You can tell right away that her origin is in poetry, as it shows in every line and every piece of dialogue. Much of the story feels like stream of consciousness, yet there’s also something so very elegant about the way it forms. It’s an intriguing combination, to put it mildly.
It’s the story of one family and how they changed and evolved over three generations, creating and carrying on their own habits, traditions, and legends. It’s deeply fascinating, and so very human. Yet it isn’t afraid to show quirks in the process, which obviously I loved to bits and pieces.
It’s also heartbreaking, seeing one family struggle over generations to find and find their place in this new home. All while others refuse to help make a place for them. Yet for that reason alone, I think this is a book that many others should give a try.
Though once again, I have to emphasis the writing. That is the other reason why I want to suggest this book to others. It really does flow like poetry throughout most, if not all, of the novel, and it is so extremely impressive.
Little descriptors that were simultaneously so incredibly evocative and highly unique made the story into something new, something different. And something that I know I’ll remember for quite some time.