Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century (Paperback)
Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is a delightfully weird and wonderful short story collection. With elements of scifi, horror, and magical realism, these stories exist in that state of lucid dreaming, where the distinction between fantasy and reality doesn’t quite make sense. Or, as the narrator in “Liddy, First to Fly” says, “The realm of pretend had only just closed its doors to us, and light still leaked through around the edges.” Unsettling, haunting, and strangely seductive, you will not be able to look away from Fu’s precise yet lyrical writing. Fans of Black Mirror, Aimee Bender’s The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, or Samantha Schweblin’s Fever Dream will love this memorable and utterly unique collection.— Christine
A TIME Top 10 Fiction Book of 2022
An NPR, Book Riot, Chicago Public Library, Tor.com, South China Morning Post, Ms. Magazine, and Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2022
Winner of the 2023 Pacific Northwest Book Prize, 2022 Shirley Jackson Award for Short Fiction & Longlisted for the 2023 Joyce Carol Oates Prize
A BuzzFeed, WIRED, LitHub, ALTA, and PureWow Best Book of Winter
"The strange and wonderful define Kim Fu’s story collection, where the line between fantasy and reality fades in and out, elusive and beckoning." —The New York Times Book Review
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, and unmask the contradictions that exist within all of us.
Mesmerizing, electric, and wholly original, Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century blurs the boundaries of the real and fantastic, offering intricate and surprising insights into human nature.
About the Author
Kim Fu is the author of For Today I Am a Boy which won the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, as well as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Her second novel, The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the OLA Evergreen Award. Fu’s writing has appeared in Granta, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Hazlitt, and the TLS. She lives in Seattle.
The strange and wonderful define Kim Fu’s story collection, where the line between fantasy and reality fades in and out, elusive and beckoning.
— The New York Times Book Review
Bold. . . . profound. . . . surreal and clever. Fu brings magical realism to exciting heights.
A lovely, new collection of eclectic tales.
— The Washington Post
There’s something for everyone in this outstanding collection, which cements Fu as one of the most exciting short story writers in contemporary fiction.
— NPR Books
Inventive and mesmerizing. . . . Vivid and surreal, readers of Carmen Maria Machado will enjoy this collection.
The success of Kim Fu’s stories is the element of the unexpected. There are surprises lurking in these narratives, whether it is a quick final plot twist or unexpected peculiarity. . . . Fu is a master of imagery.
— Chicago Review of Books
Mesmerizing. . . . 12 stories about macabre, beautifully dark images (not unlike a Lana Del Rey song). . . . Think: sexuality, guilt, contradictions, drama!
Rich and metamorphic. . . . [Fu] clearly has a knack for the form.
Stellar. . . . Fu is a master mixer of the speculative, the witchy, and the real.
A speculative short story collection ideal for streaming audiences accustomed to Black Mirror and The Haunting of Hill House.
— The Hollywood Reporter
What makes these dozen stories really pop are the people around whom they are centered. . . . ultimately it catalogues human nature.
Fu’s fiction is mesmerizing, and her new book is a collection of fantastical tales featuring sea monsters and haunted dolls.
— R.O. Kwon - Electric Lit
Wonderful. . . . There's nothing to fault in this book; it’s an endlessly entertaining bestiary from one of the country's most exciting practitioners of fiction.
— The Star Tribune
Unsettling and downright strange.
— Seattle Times
Quite impressive. . . . Feels fresh and new while also having the elements of a mystery you'd find in an Agatha Christie novel.
— LeVar Burton Reads
Enchanting, mystical and shining with ingenuity, Fu’s book is strongly recommended.
— South China Morning Post
An incredible collection, one with sweeping variety that is unified by a singular vision of what it means to be human.
— The Rumpus
Stunning. . . . Her stories engage all the senses. . . . A terrific collection of speculative fiction, with evocative, textured prose that left a lasting impression.
— Locus Magazine
This collection is akin to something out of The Twilight Zone: girls grow wings, sea monsters surface, children’s toys have the power to control time. The oddities to be encountered here will delight and surprise.
A modern, mystical playground.
Stunning. . . . A must read.
— International Examiner
Each story feels like a potential episode of Black Mirror, exploring futuristic technology and the dangerous hold it has on all of us.
Exhilarating. . . . Electrifying and haunting.
— Book Riot
Deeply vivid. . . . Fu’s writing is incisive, lyrical, and inventive.
Strange and fantastic. . . . offers commentary on relationships, technology, and what we think we know about one another.
Deft and vivid. . . . Fu paints us pictures of the monsters that loom in the distance of our 21st century lives, at times both abstract and clear as day.
— Porter House Review
Fu boldly carries all that I loved of Bradbury’s fiction—its variety, sensitivity, and immense creative power—into a new era with short stories that captivate and terrify, shock and inspire. Lesser Known Monsters is a uniquely mesmerizing collection.
— Necessary Fiction
Fascinating. . . . In the vein of Carmen Maria Machado and Mariana Enríquez, one of Fu’s greatest strengths is her ability to turn horror on its head, focusing less on the terror the modern-day monsters incite, but what they reveal about ourselves.
— The Adroit Journal
A dazzling and surreal collection that grabs you by the throat. . . . Riveting.
— The Orange County Register
Will have you questioning reality and loving every minute of it.
— Ms. Magazine
The best speculative fiction seeks to decenter, decolonize, and disrupt what many have taken for granted as the universe’s natural order. Or at least, that’s what I decided after reading Monsters, because in it, Fu leaps so nimbly from story to story, center to center, taking whatever perspective necessary to take nothing in the multiverse for granted. . . . Fu, who has published two novels and one book of poetry previously, excites me as an emerging speculative fiction author of unique voice and considerable talent.
— South Seattle Emerald
Smart and sharp. . . . a first-rate collection for any fan of speculative fiction. . . . a marvelous collection of work by a writer of tremendous gifts.
— The Maine Edge
— West Trade Review
Fu’s mastery of clever, strange concepts is undeniable. . . . Tautly controlled language, often to the point of spareness, communicates the lyrical imagination that is the foundation for each piece.
If you want your fiction as weird as it can get while still being compassionate, resonant, and beautiful, look no further. . . . Super excited about this one.
Fu’s stories keep you locked in and riveted. She does the thing great short story writers do, which is to say, she pulls you into the story from the jump and keeps you there. . . . [It's] fabulous, you should read it.
— SFF YEAH!
Delightfully, darkly bizarre. . . . I sped through this collection because it was just too good to put down.
— In Cold Books
With exceptional sleight-of-hand and significant literary talent, Fu dazzles readers.
— Full Stop
The title promises something monstrous and it delivers.
This is storytelling at its finest.
— Lightspeed Magazine
Shape-shifting. . . . recreates the shock of feeling in a landscape of disconnection.
— Rain Taxi
Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is one of those rare collections that never suffers from which-one-was-that-again? syndrome. Every story here lights a flame in the memory, shining brighter as time goes by rather than dimming. Kim Fu writes with grace, wit, mischief, daring, and her own deep weird phosphorescent understanding.
— Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Ghost Variations
How I loved the cool wit of these speculative stories! Filled with wonder and wondering, they’re haunted too by loss and loneliness, their imaginative reach profoundly rooted in the human condition.
— Peter Ho Davies, author of A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself
Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is for the adventurous reader—someone willing to walk into a story primed for cultural critique and suddenly come across a plot for murder, or to consider the dangers of sea monsters alongside those posed by 21st century ennui. Each story is spectacularly smart, hybrid in genre, and bold with intention. The monsters here are not only fantastical figures brought to life in hyper-reality but also the strangest parts of the human heart. This book is as moving as it is monumental.
— Lucy Tan, author of What We Were Promised
When a collection is evocative of authors as disparate as Ray Bradbury and Stephanie Vaughn, the only possible unifier can be originality: and that’s what a reader finds in Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century. The strangest of concepts are tempered by grounded, funny dialogue in these stories, which churn with big ideas and craftily controlled antic energy.
— Naben Ruthnum, author of Find You in the Dark
Kim Fu's Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century crushes the coal-dark zeitgeist between its teeth and spits out diamonds, beautiful but razor-sharp. This will be one of the best short story collections of the year.
— Indra Das, author of The Devourers
Precise, elegant, uncanny, and mesmerizing—each story in this collection is a crystalline gem. Kim Fu’s talent is singularly inventive, her every sentence a surprise and an adventure.
— Danya Kukafka, author of Notes on an Execution
Stellar. . . . Fu’s stories crackle with quirky plots, and her characters’ problems and hunger for new possibilities are palpable. This is a winner.
— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Powerful. . . . Fu addresses questions of technology and community with grace and subtlety.
— Kirkus, Starred Review
A breathtaking collection of speculative fiction stories about how new places and innovations affect timeless emotions.
— Foreword Reviews, Starred Review
Strange and fantastic. . . . sheds an uncanny light on the emotional dissonance of modern life.
— Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
A dozen sly, provocative, fabulous short stories sure to delight and shock. From doll parts to winged ankles to stockpiled gold bars, Fu flaunts an inimitable imagination. . . . Irrefutably fantastic fiction.
— Booklist, Starred Review