Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
In the twelve unforgettable tales of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, the strange is made familiar and the familiar strange, such that a girl growing wings on her legs feels like an ordinary rite of passage, while a bug-infested house becomes an impossible, Kafkaesque nightmare. Each story builds a new world all its own: a group of children steal a haunted doll; a runaway bride encounters a sea monster; a vendor sells toy boxes that seemingly control the passage of time; an insomniac is seduced by the Sandman. These visions of modern life wrestle with themes of death and technological consequence, guilt and sexuality, as they unmask the contradictions that exist within all of us. (From Coach House Books)
Kim Fu is a Washington-based, Canadian-born fiction writer and poet. She has published two works of fiction, For Today I Am a Boy and The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, and a book of poetry called How Festive the Ambulance.
Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is on the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist. The winner will be announced on Nov. 7, 2022.
A deeply emotional collection that delights, dares, and dazzles.- 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury
From the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury: An endlessly surprising story collection without a single flawed entry in the bunch, Kim Fu's Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is brilliantly textured. Moving from an argument with the operator of a VR machine to an insomniac's encounter with a veritable sandman to a couple who can die and resurrect themselves at will, Fu's worlds are fantastical and enterprising in their own right. But these set-ups stealthily reveal themselves to be structures for unspeakably moving revelations about the most real of human experiences — grief, anger, mistrust, sex, nostalgia, sacrifice. A deeply emotional collection that delights, dares, and dazzles."
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Why Kim Fu wrote Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
"I think the imagined technologies in the book are able to bring certain emotions to a head — emotions that are a little bit more nebulous or desires that are vague or hard to pin down. So, for example, in 20 Hours, the technology is a body printer that allows bodies to be reprinted after death and a mind re-uploaded to it under certain circumstances. For the married couple in the story, it takes these nebulous feelings of boredom and resentment and wondering about life outside their marriage, and it makes it this life or death question: 'I could kill you and you would be gone for a little while and would come back.' It's that feeling of when your partner is out of town, right? That question of, 'Who do you become on your own again?' But it's made much more extreme — it's made into a much more pointed, black-and-white question and a violent question in the story.
By having this one surreal element, it focuses all the other emotions, and it sort of points the story in one direction.- Kim Fu
"And then with Time Cubes, it's a very literal question of, 'What if you could reel back time? What would what would that mean?' I can see how deeply attractive that is to people, but also how the specific character in the story reacts to that a little bit differently than most people would.
I think that these technologies serve a function in the story similar to the literal monsters or some of the other stories where I think that they're a focusing force. By having this one surreal element, it focuses all the other emotions, and it sort of points the story in one direction."
Read her full interview with The Next Chapter.
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