Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author.
(1967- ) US-born academic and author, in Canada from childhood; much of her work examines implications, personal and cultural, of her Chinese-Canadian background. Her first novel, When Fox Is a Thousand (1995; rev 2004), is a complex tripartite fantasy, one of whose strands is narrated by a 1000-year old fox. Her second novel, Salt Fish Girl (2002), combines two narratives: that of an Immortal female Shapeshifter who speaks sharply crafted wisdom; and that of a young woman trapped in a Near Future walled City dominated by late-capitalist enterprises. The interweaving of cultures and stories cumulatively generates a Magic Realist sense that something like the heart of a nation is being unfolded.
Lai is also of sf interest for her third novel, The Tiger Flu (2018), which gracefully applies Equipoisal twist to a tale set in a somewhat abstracted Near Future Dystopia, focusing on a commune of parthenogenic women (see Sex) gathered around a healer who uses something like Magic to restore flesh and bones. A visitor from Salt Water City, whose entirely male leadership had sent the women into exile, carries a viral Pandemic that has been spreading through the outer world, and which kills the healer. The protagonist is meanwhile kidnapped by the patriarchal advocates of a harsh Religion, whose belief in the Transcendence of the body seems unholy, and whose abject devotion to invasive Technologies dooms them in the end. [JC]
born La Jolla, California: 13 September 1967
- When Fox Is a Thousand (Vancouver, British Columbia: Press Gang Publishers, 1995) [hb/]
- When Fox Is a Thousand (Vancouver, British Columbia: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2004) [rev of the above: pb/Myron Campbell]
- Salt Fish Girl (Toronto, Ontario: Thomas Allen Publishers, 2002) [hb/Tim Hall and Morgan Mazzoni]
- The Tiger Flu (Vancouver, British Columbia: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018) [pb/]
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