Ninetails: Nine Tales (Paperback)

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Ninetails: Nine Tales By Sally Wen Mao Cover Image
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Description


“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.

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.

Praise For…


A MOST ANTICIPATED AND BEST BOOK WITH RECTOR | POLYGON | CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS | GIZMODO | ELECTRIC LIT | BIBLIOLIFESTYLE | BOOKRIOT | ELLE

“With this first collection of deft and poignant stories, Sally Wen Mao continues to prove herself as one of the most fascinating and versatile writers of her generation.” — Dave Eggers, New York Times bestselling author of The Eyes & the Impossible and The Every

[Ninetails] not only plays with language and imagery, it also brings a surreal, poetic logic to the narrative itself. Some of these stories feature fox spirits as a motif, while others feature foxes as major characters. What unites them is a focus on women trying to make sense of a world that makes unreasonable demands while projecting various archetypes onto them. These stories dance around fertility and sexuality, seduction and rage, and the final tales reach for a kind of shared transformation or redemption. Often, even a great collection blurs into undifferentiated sameness after you finish — but each must-read story in “Ninetails” remains fresh and distinct long after you close the pages.”Washington Post

An exquisite collection of fairy tale stories, each of which connect in some manner (figurative and literal) to foxes, and particularly the fox spirits of East Asian folklore. In gorgeous language and intimate attention to detail, Sally Wen Mao presents stories that span centuries, addressing dating apps and dancers and migrants and sex dolls with the same keen eye and enchanting prose.” — ELLE

“From acclaimed poet Sally Wen Mao comes her first collection of short stories Ninetails, a fabulist retelling of the nine-tailed fox spirit of Asian folklore. From a fox spirit avenging a teen girl by seducing her abuser to an assassination plot against the Queen of Korea known as Operation Fox Hunt, each story glimmers with captivating premises and glistens with undeniable lyricism. Sally Wen Mao has built entire worlds in each short entry, making this a prose debut that you don’t want to miss.” — Chicago Review of Books

"Award-winning poet Mao’s fiction debut is a spectacularly multifaceted collection about women and their feral superpowers....Mao challenges and disrupts expectations of womanhood, demanding and forging brilliant new narratives.” — Booklist *starred review*

“Mao’s own poetic roots are on full display in these vibrant fairy tales that feel at once like they have existed for hundreds of years and are freshly imagined.”Polygon

“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. It marks, to my mind, the beginning of a poet's long and potent exploration in literature's most capacious genre. And it's a welcomed sight to see.” —Ocean Vuong, New York Times-bestselling author of On Earth, We're Briefly Gorgeous and Time is a Mother

"Myth and folklore intertwine seamlessly with the tumultuous lives of Asian women in Ninetails...Unfolding with gripping intensity through author Sally Wen Mao’s vivid depictions of the gritting settings and sobering situations that confront her characters, each premise is made even more powerful by the magical element introduced when a fox spirit manifests to liberate the women from their misery, or inflict retribution for wrongdoings...Mao’s compelling depiction of Asian women’s experiences is powerfully unsettling in its authenticity. Through themes of revenge and redemption, these stories illuminate our enduring capacity for resilience.”Bookpage

"Ninetails
is a spirited modern fairy tale that takes cues from history, mythology, headline news, dating apps, and Mao's gift for sly observation. This is an exploration of the animal magic within the feminine, written with ardor and ambition." — C Pam Zhang, author of Land of Milk and Honey

“With Ninetails, Mao weaves a beguiling and epic paean to the power of the feminine. Lyrical and virtuosic, with a sly sense of humor, this collection features a colorful and unforgettable cast of characters, from love dolls to dancers to translators to witches. A bewitching fiction debut as magical and shape-shifting as the fox spirit herself.” —Gina Chung, author of Sea Change and Green Frog

“Fiercely imaginative and nourished by a wild subterranean river of magic, folklore, and futuristic myth, Sally Wen Mao's Ninetails is a beguiling book and one that challenges the reader to conjure strange new modes of subverting oppression. Long a luminary of the poetry world, Sally Wen Mao proves here that she is an unstoppable, incandescent force in prose as well.” – Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun

"With lush world-building and Korean lore-inspired fabulism, the stories in this debut collection re-imagine the nine-tailed fox spirit present in Asian folklore as a vengeance-seeking redeemer." — Bookriot


Product Details
ISBN: 9780143137894
ISBN-10: 0143137891
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: May 28th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English