Dan K. Woo
May 10, 2022
250 PAGES | ISBN 978-1-989496-51-0
In twelve spare, fable-like short stories Dan K. Woo introduces us to a fascinating cast of characters from different regions of China. From rural villages to bustling cities, Woo deftly charts the paths of young people searching for love, meaning and happiness in a country that is often misunderstood in North America. Whether they are participating in a marriage market to appease their mother, working as a delivery boy in Beijing or dealing with trauma in a hospital in Shanghai, we see these young people push against both tradition and the lightning-fast economy to try and make their way in often difficult situations. Woo brings remarkable empathy to these dreamlike stories and their twists and turns, which will linger long in readers’ minds. Through it all, the spectre of Taobao – China’s online retail giant – hovers, providing everything the characters might need or want, while also acting as a thread that ties together a captivating and complex collection of stories set in a captivating and complex country.
"Taobao means 'seeking treasure' in Mandarin, and this debut collection by the talented Dan K. Woo is a treasure trove. Set in different places across China, the stories contrast the lives of men and women, locals and foreigners, city dwellers and rural folks and the well off and the hard up, while exposing cultural clashes and delving into sexism and racism. Like Ren Hang’s photographs, the stories also serve as snapshots of the sexuality of young people in modern-day China. I really loved this book." – Neil Smith, author of Boo and the forthcoming novel Jones
“I loved this book! Taobao is a surreal, bluntly hilarious and fable-like journey through a contemporary and lively China. Woo’s short story collection subverts stereotypes, immersing readers in the complicated lives of young people fumbling through family expectations and strict Chinese traditions, all the while discovering and rebelling against their ordinary and/or extraordinary destinies. Written with careful nuance, honesty and tenderness, Woo’s characters and world teem with the chaos and complexities of modern-day life. A must-read for readers of short stories.” – Lindsay Wong, author of My Summer of Love and Misfortune and The Woo-Woo