Taobao: Stories

Taobao: Stories

Dan K. Woo
  • $20.00

June 7, 2022
190 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.

Advance Praise

"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


"Taobao: Stories by Dan K. Woo (Review)" (Flavia the Bibliophile, 02/05/2023)
"The themes explored in this book are important and thought-provoking. I also appreciated the art of Taobao – both the writing as well as the cover. Overall, Taobao is a well-written book that explores important themes while exploring short snapshots of life."

Taobao by Dan K. Woo (Aaron Schneider, The Temz Review, 07/09/2022)
"The effect of the Taobao is striking. Woo’s stories make for difficult, often discomforting, but necessary reading. They linger, not always easily, but like the best writing should, long after the book is done."

Chinese romance seen from the inside (Andrea Geary, Winnipeg Free Press, 02/07/2022)
"Woo details the shabbiness of urban slums, where derelict buildings and underground tunnels are used to house the city’s poorest residents. While the riches of an online merchant like Taobao beckon to everyone, for many, everyday life is a struggle filled with compromises."

Vignettes from a side of China we don’t often see in Chinese-Canadian author’s short story collection Taobao (Peter Neville-Hadley, MSN, 29/05/2022)
"Woo's stories are brisk and unforgivingly authentic."


E298 with DAN K. WOO (Jamie Tennant, Get Lit, 04/08/2022)
Dan talks with Jamie Tennant about Taobao.

"You Will Start Writing Again When You're Ready" Dan K. Woo Shares His Inspiring Writing Journey (Open Book, 24/05/2022)
"I would say, don't bother trying to overcome feelings of being discouraged. If you're feeling like you don't want to write, then don't. Just get on with your life, get a job, have a family, travel, do whatever it is you want to do."


A Year in Reading: The Best of 2022 (Hamilton Review of Books, 21/12/2022)
Dan's book makes this great roundup.

Face Out: Our Favourite Book Covers of 2022 (Hamilton Review of Books, 19/12/2022)
Dan's book makes this roundup of great book covers of 2022.

The CBC Books Writers to Watch list: 30 Canadian writers on the rise in 2022 (CBC Books, 28/07/2022)
It's nice to see Dan K. Woo on this list with so many great writers.

Craving CanLit 2022 (Scotiabank Giller Prize blog, 25/07/2022)
Dan's story collection appears on this list of fiction and graphic novels published between October 2021 and September 2022 that celebrates Canadian authors.

23 Canadian collections to read for Short Story Month (CBC Books, 17/05/2022)
A roundup of collections of short stories to read for short story month.

25 books to celebrate Asian Heritage Month in Canada (CBC Books, 10/05/2022)
Dan's collection makes this list of 25 books to celebrate Asian Heritage Month in Canada.

40 Canadian books coming out in May we can't wait to read (CBC Books 03/05/2022)
Dan's collection makes this CBC list of 40 Canadian books coming out in May we can't wait to read.

The Year Ahead: 2022 in Preview (Jen St. Jude, Chicago Review of Books, 31/01/2022)
Dan's collection is on this list of the Chicago Review of Books' most anticipated 2022 titles.

Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2022 Fiction Preview (49th Shelf, 31/01/2022)
Dan's collection makes this list of most anticipated spring fiction!

66 works of Canadian fiction to watch for in spring 2022 (CBC Books, 11/01/2022)
Dan's collection makes this list of 66 fiction books to watch for in Spring 2022!

About the Author

Dan K. Woo's family came to Canada in the 1970s. His grandfather was a fire captain and the first firefighter to die on duty in British Hong Kong, partly a result of the British colonial system. In 2018, Woo won the Ken Klonsky Award for Learning How to Love China (Quattro Books). His writing has appeared in such publications as the South China Morning Post, Quill & Quire and China Daily USA. A Toronto native, he lives with his partner in the city and writes in his free time.

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