For Today I Am a Boy

Kim Fu's novel is about the only son of a Chinese family in Ontario, who knows from an early age that he is a girl in the body of a boy.

Kim Fu

At birth, Peter Huang is given the Chinese name juan chaun, meaning powerful king. He is the exalted only son in a family of daughters; the one who will finally fulfill his father's dreams of western masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he knows that he is a girl.

Peter and his sisters — the elegant Adele, the shrewd Helen, and Bonnie, the bon vivant — grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter's own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays and the ever-present shadow of his father. (From HarperCollins)

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From the book

On the day my sister Adele is born, my mother goes to the butcher. It is January 3, 1969. Her belly, hard as packed snow, bobs outside of her unzipped parka as she walks up to the counter. An enormous sow is laid out in the display case. In her mind, Mother replaces the pig's body with her own: her legs hanging on hooks at the back; her tiny feet encased in rounded, hoof-like leather boots; the shinbone ready to be held in a vise and shaved for charcuterie. Her torso is cut below the breast and lies flat, showing a white cross-section of vertebrae. Her head is intact, eyes clouded yellow and rolled upward. The dried-out edges of her ears let light through. Human ears probably taste similar to pig's ears, she thinks. A glutinous outer layer with crisp cartilage underneath She could stew them, char them in a skillet, watch her skin blister and pop.

From For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu ©2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

Author interviews

Shani Mootoo and Kim Fu on exploring gender variance in fiction 17:40