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Larissa Lai

Author of Salt fish girl

10+ Works 618 Members 18 Reviews 3 Favorited

About the Author

Larissa Lai is the author of two novels, When Fox Is a Thousand and Salt Fish Girl. A recipient of the Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers' Award, she has been shortlisted for the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Tiptree Award, and the Dorothy Livesay Prize, She is an assistant professor in show more the Department of English at the University of British Columbia. show less
Image credit: Photo credit: Edward Parker

Works by Larissa Lai

Associated Works

Year's Best SF 11 (2006) — Contributor — 234 copies
Futures from Nature (2007) — Contributor — 113 copies
Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire (2009) — Contributor — 56 copies
Girls Who Bite Back: Witches, Mutants, Slayers and Freaks (2004) — Contributor — 50 copies
Take Out: Queer Writing From Asian Pacific America (2000) — Contributor — 42 copies
No Margins: Canadian Fiction in Lesbian (2006) — Contributor — 31 copies
Circa 2000: Lesbian Fiction at the Millennium (2000) — Contributor — 28 copies


Common Knowledge



I read this as a part of a readathon, so I was able to read the entire thing all the way through in basically one sitting, which is a lovely way to read a book-length poem, especially one like this. These sentences build a propulsive momentum that makes it difficult to pause or stop. They carry an energy that makes it hard to walk away from, but also to simply step back into.

I loved the meld of Greek Gods & Asian cultures -- Asian here as an umbrella rather than a catch-all -- Hong Kong as a collision site for Western/Chinese/Japanese/world influences. I loved Lai's use of the sound of words -- there are haikus between sections but most of the work is more free form -- but peppered with internal rhyme and alliteration, etc.

I bought this basically on impulse because Arsenal Pulp was have a sale and I am so glad I did.
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greeniezona | May 11, 2023 |
Lai's world-building and her deployment of magic realism are for the most part effective and engaging; we are left to puzzle out how the future world works, exercising our imaginations in the way that the best SF demands of us. The ways in which the overlords of the future have built out a gamified reality to exploit people was a particularly effective, and disturbing, touch (Elon Musk and Peter Thiel should not read this book in case it gives them ideas they don't already have). Myths of past and present collide in intriguing ways. However, on the narrative level this piece doesn't hang together and in fact is constantly frustrating. I am definitely not someone that has the juvenile expectation that I should like characters in a book. That rarely makes for truth-telling fiction. What I did find frustrating however was watching most of the characters, but particularly the protagonist, making stupid decision after stupid decision after stupid decision. . .for no apparent reason, and in ways that were often at odds with the nature of the character that Lai painstakingly developed. The ending was annoyingly predictable, although I hoped until the last minute that it wasn't where the novel was heading. It is the kind of ending where an author has boxed her characters into a corner, can't figure out how to get them out, so throws in a quasi-mystical conclusion. The only way I was able to rescue a sense of getting something out of the book was to conclude that it is in fact a parable about human stupidity. That in fact we aren't meant to care about anyone here or what they do. Instead, what Lai seems to be doing is writing a novel where the central character is genetics, the power of evolution, and the stubborness of life. People are tangential to life's persistence and its inbuilt need to change and adapt. Seen in that light, Lai's point is depressing, but probably accurate.… (more)
BornAnalog | 5 other reviews | Apr 26, 2022 |
No stars, because I only made it about 1/3 of the way through and DNF. It doesn't seem appropriate to leave stars when I haven't finished.

Nothing wrong with the book in an objective sense, the writing is gorgeous and the individual sections intriguing, but the narrative is very disjointed. It's a stylistic thing, completely and totally, but in this case the style doesn't suit me.
Sunyidean | 3 other reviews | Sep 7, 2021 |
I loved this collection of clever, original poetry that ties together themes Lai has explored in her novels and fiction. Everything from gender, bioengineering, genetics, bodily autonomy and self-determination is touched on in these poems. Lai's career focuses heavily on examining embodiment and bioethics, and this collection continues that trend. It left me with a lot to think about.

This is also a very accessible collection, one that will speak to any person in STEM or who has a fondness for dystopian sci-fi but finds the politics of Bladerunner questionable at best.… (more)
Nommie | 1 other review | Apr 25, 2021 |



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½ 3.7

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