Sally Wen Mao “Ninetails” Author Talk [Updated June 16th]

Join in an author talk with Sally Wen Mao for “Ninetails.”


6/21/2024 at 7:00PM
CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138-3820

About the Author:

Sally Wen Mao is the acclaimed author of three poetry collections–Oculus which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019; Mad Honey Symposium, which named a Top Ten Debut of 2014 in Poets & Writers; and The Kingdom of Surfaces, a finalist for the 2023 Maya Angelou Book Award. The recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she’s been published in The Paris Review, Harper Bazaar, Guenrica, PEN America, among others, with rave reviews of her writing in national outlets such as the New Yorker, NPR, and The Washington Post. She currently lives in New York City.

About the Book:

“A sumptuous and lively collection, leaping from story to story in much the same way a fox does — surprisingly, gracefully, and with impressive aim. I loved this book.” – Kelly Link, Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author of Get in Trouble and The Book of Love

“What I love most about Ninetails is its fierce allegiance to underdogs of all kinds, its careful and myriad empathy for its characters, but also its pure and artisanal delight in language and fictive possibilities.” —Ocean Vuong, New York Times-bestselling author of On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous and Time is a Mother

A “lyrical and virtuosic” fabulist debut collection of stories re-imagining the nine-tailed fox spirit of Asian folklore (Gina Chung).

A fox spirit avenges a teen girl by seducing her abuser. A shapeshifting woman finds herself chased through the woods by fox hunters; meanwhile, an assassination plot called Operation Fox Hunt unfolds against the last Queen of Korea. Chinese migrants hoping to make new lives as “paper children” in America find their pasts—and their hopes for the future—embodied in the foxes that haunt the harbor in 1900s Angel Island. In the nine tales of Ninetails, acclaimed poet Sally Wen Mao reimagines the fox spirit from Asian folklore—a shapeshifter, shaman, and seductress—as an icon of vengeance, solidarity and liberation. The characters of her stories are varied—from silicone sex dolls who come to life with new purpose, to women whose crushes manifest as stones—but they all reach for a common purpose: to find truth and belonging in a difficult world determined to consider them alien.

With the fabulist vibrancy of Carmen Maria Machado, the sinuous world-building of Helen Oyeyemi, and the sensuous feminist rage of Han Kang, Ninetails is both timeless—unearthing a cultural icon whose origins date back over a thousand years—and timely in its contemporary political urgency.

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