Short Story Review: The Paper Menagerie

Title The Paper Menagerie

Author: Ken Liu

Type: Short Story:

Awards:  the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award

Synopsis: “The Paper Menagerie” is about an American boy whose mother was a mail-order bride from Hong Kong. As he grows up, he becomes conscious of the prejudices of neighbors and classmates directed against his mother and himself, and he comes to resent her for tagging him as alien. But a collection of origami animals made by his mother when he was a child come to life and give him a message.


There is a distinctive wave of overpowering emotions when I read a stupendously good piece of writing. It leaves you reeling, confused, and gasping for breath. I say I was “gasping for breath” because I bawled my eyes out.

Ken Liu's incredible story "Paper Menagerie" was the first work of fiction to win all three of SF's major awards: the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award. And rightly so. It is deeply emotive and beautifully written amassing to a short storythat you will remember forever .

What I loved about this short story was the way Liu described his internal experiences and how his perceptions morphed over time. As someone of Chinese decent, I relived every moment as if it was my own. I can honest say that I have never been so moved by a short story. Every single word struck chords in me profound enough to hurt, whether about the love and cruelty of families; the discovery of self and identity; the beauty in sadness. His struggles and internal conflict was so relevant and relatable – from and that is what I felt was the element that gave this otherwise simple story life.

I know that Liu wrote an entire collection but I only had the pleasure of reading the one. I would recommend EVERYONE to give this a read.

Victoria Gaoshort story, review, book