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Snow and Shadow

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Dorothy Tse's stories sometimes start in a vein of innocent realism, but she invariably brings us up short with an abrupt twist: dreamscapes descend and the pages become populated with ever weirder characters. Not only do strange things happen, they are juxtaposed in ways that confound all logical expectations. This collection of 13 short stories is not for the faint-heart ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published March 2014 by Muse / East Slope Publishing Ltd
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Jason Lundberg
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So as to not bury the lede: I LOVED this collection, and highly recommend it to anyone into surreal and strange short fiction. Far and away my favorite book read this year.

One of the best parts of getting invited to moderate a panel discussion at a convention or literary festival is encountering the work of writers you might not have ordinarily come across. Such was the case with Dorothy Tse, who appeared on one of my panels at the 2017 George Town Literary Festival.

Tse writes in Chinese and r
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Received a copy via DeBartlo & Co.


The PR wheel has spun this collection as an example of a writing style akin to Murakami. The problem with this is two fold. Firstly, his work perfectly straddles reality and dreamscape. Secondly, because of item one, there is a consistency to his work, which lends to ease of reading and a clear(er...ish) understanding of the content. In this collection not so much.

The author of Snow and Shadow presented us with human experiences, cultural references, and pers
Kamila Kunda
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: asia, own, fiction
Concerned about the current situation in Hong Kong I reached for a collection of short stories “Snow and Shadow” by Dorothy Tse, well known Hong Kong’s author. According to her “in Hong Kong, writing itself is an active rejection of utilitarian society and mundane everyday life” and I wanted to understand what Hong Kong’s citizens escape to, what writing they choose to forget about reality.

Tse’s stories are surreal dreamscapes, in which violence, Kafkaesque transformations (a wife transforming
**Thank you Netgalley and Muse for providing this in exchange for an honest review**

3.5 Stars

I believe this may be the weirdest book I've ever read. I'm a bad reader when it comes to Anthologies. I usually read the first few stories and set the book aside. I always say I'll pick it back up soon, but that very rarely ever happens. To be honest, I'm pretty sure I've only ever finished one Anthology, besides this one, and that was only because there was a main story connecting everything together.
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-read
I am not sure how to review this book but I will try - especially because I received it through goodreads in exchange for an honest review. So here goes.

I haven't dipped into surrealism for a little while. I needed to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate these stories so I did put it down occasionally to let my brain recharge - this is not a book to just breeze through at the beach.

The writing is beautiful. The author is not hesitant in her command of the story whether it is about a woma
Mike W
Aug 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Dorothy Tse has won multiple literary awards in Hong Kong, and Snow and Shadow, a collection of short stories is her debut collection in English. One of the stories from the book, Fish Woman, was published in the Guardian, but as far as I can determine this book is the first and only actual collection of stories published in English. After doing a bit of research, it seems there is a consensus that the translation by Nicky Harman is fantastic. I could not find a single review that had anything r ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
weird translation. i'll come back to this collection when i find the original ...more
mad mags
"This palace is a depraved place."

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

Dorothy Tse's Snow and Shadow is like nothing you've ever read. Fantastical, surreal, and full of unexpected gore, the stories found within these pages are as odd as they are beautifully written. While some of the pieces start off with both feet seemingly planted firmly in this world ("in a vein of apparently innocent realism," to quote translator Nicky Harman) before
Angie Reisetter
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: firstreads
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is a beautiful collection of allegorical short stories written in poetic prose. The ideas here are so dense and thought provoking that it took me a few days to read it, even though it isn't long. When I started out, I wasn't sure what to make of the warning in the blurb for the book about not being for the faint of heart and body parts falling off. I don't read horror, I don't enjoy violence. But I think
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
snow and shadow offers a baker's dozen of violent, sexual, surrealist short stories from hong kongese author dorothy tse. while these stories left me utterly unmoved (and mostly unimpressed), tse certainly has both a unique voice and narrative style. tse frequently invokes stark, often beautiful imagery, but her stories seem to favor illusive/elusiveness over cohesion. although snow and shadow will appeal to many, i found little to like.
night, like an intricate, indigo veil, crept over the hi
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up to 4

Within each short story in this collection, Tse generally starts off by presenting seemingly disparate elements that she ends up connecting in an enjoyable way by the end of the story. Her writing style and nice turns of phrase also add to the atmosphere of the book. Certainly some darker topics ("limbs, and even heads, are lopped off with alarming regularity") but not something the author delves into with too much detail, so it often feels less dark and more just surre
Frank Proctor
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This collection of short stories is different from much of the translated literature from China. The feeling is very personal and intimate, and the author is able to create some moving connections with her characters, even though her style is very surreal, and even though she often gives characters generic names (like, simply, "The Girl", "Leaf," or "A"). I especially like "A Street in the Wind", "Black Cat City" and "Bed". Another good one, "The Mute Door" is more to the end of extreme surreali ...more
Bill Hsu
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chinese-lang
There's certainly enough to enjoy in these charming, surreal pieces.

The back cover blurbs praise the translation and the author's "taut prose". So it's jarring to see a sentence like this:

People passing the showroom window and seeing the girl lying asleep just like an overripe apple fallen from the tree swarmed up like bluebottles drawn by the fruity nectar of her dreams.


I haven't read the story ("Bed") in the original, so I don't know who was responsible for this. But there are other simil
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Although literary surrealism isn't really my thing, this was an interesting collection. My favorite story was "The Love Between Leaf and Knife" which I read as a sort of metaphor; some of the other tales weren't as amenable to this type of interpretation, however. I'd say the collection is fairly Kafkaesque but definitely much darker than his work. Pick it up if you dig contemporary surrealist texts. ...more
T Hamboyan Harrison
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer: I received a free electronic version of this book through First Reads.)

This collection of short stories bears the scent of a modern-day Grimm's fairy tales. Each story is immersive and has the taste of reality somehow twisted. The characters are interesting, the settings fantastic yet coherent. This book has an overall slightly-disorienting effect that is nonetheless enjoyable.
Zoe's Human
Surreal and sometimes poetic stories with the intangible and fascinating quality of half-remembered dreams. Tales with are both dark and whimsical.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Liz Neering
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bizarre and beautiful. This is an excellent collection of surreal short fiction. Highly recommended for fans of body horror and weird tales.
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review originally appeared on monkeybicycle ,

For surreal fiction to work, the writer must have confidence. No matter how fantastic the images and situations, it always comes back to confidence. The reader should not sense the author’s doubt in either prose or content. The best works of magical realism flood forward on the page like an endless ribbon being pulled, and this is so apparent in Hong Kong writer Dorothy Tse’s newest short story collection, Snow and Shadow.

Each story is constru
Bill Brydon
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
"To start with, the girl found the bed enormous, until her and her sister’s bodies began inexorably to grow bigger and the bed grew smaller and smaller. By night, they lay with their arms and legs entangled like flayed pig carcasses littering the slaughterhouse, and their dreams thickened and darkened, becoming as heavy as lead. Sometimes, jerking awake, they smelled the stink of each other’s sweat and grumbled and yanked at each other’s hair before eventually falling asleep, exausted." ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Snow and Shadow is not a direct equivalent to any Tse short story collection previously published in Chinese, but rather a greatest hits designed to introduce English-speaking readers to her work. The collection is an assemblage of dreamy, anti-moral parables set in the shifting topography of a surreal Hong Kong. Tse’s style is direct yet obscure, characterized by a loose physicality, impersonal, often iconic, characters, overtones of classic fairy tales turned in on themselves, and, as translat ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In this terse, but superb, short story collection, Hong Kong writer Dorothy Tse reveals herself as a master of surrealistic speculative fiction as memorable as anything written by the likes of Franz Kafka and Haruki Murakami, with favorable comparisons too with notable contemporary writers Dan Chaon and Brian Evenson. Her tales are especially noteworthy for their visionary, almost dream-like, settings, with characters that could spring from the pages of Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore" and "1Q84" ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Dorothy Tse is talented and I haven't any doubt that many will love Snow and Shadow. Her tales are strange and bend the mind without trying too hard, as some surreal writers do. Her ability to create a weird universe flows so naturally that the reader can easily lose themselves.

The love between Leaf and Knife was my favorite story, it reminded me of the French film Love Me if You Dare (Jeux d'enfants), if it was in an alternate horror filled universe. A couple proves their love with outlandish
Kseniya Melnik
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Beautiful, surreal, magical, gory, strange, poetic. The stories in Dorothy Tse's interesting collection made me pause and feel, much more than they made me think and analyze—an effect that is usually created by a non-verbal piece of art like music or abstract painting. In some stories that are so high-concept or so fairy tale-like, it was hard to care for the characters because so clearly they were not real (I couldn't quite connect with the title story, which is a re-imagining of Snow White
Jo-Ann Murphy
Jun 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
This is not my kind of book. It is like reading Picasso. I think Picasso translates better. The author's world is definitely surreal.

I found the stories violent and while some provoked thought, others seemed pointless to me. I think the title is the best part of the book.

I was looking forward to reading this book because of all the good reviews I saw. However, I found it a chore to read. It is not long but I could not enjoy it and finally after weeks of struggling, I gave up because things did
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a work where the celebration of language, the cultural norms, the expected is all thrown up in the air and the outcome is a surreal, macabre world of a city sitting in between cultures. If you find the Japanese writer Yoko Ogawa’s short “Gothic” tales slightly off-beat or bizarre then crank those up to volume eleven, add a little more and you wouldn’t even hold a candle to Dorothy Tse’s musings.

Our book contains thirteen short stories, opening with Tse’s first published story “Woman Fish
Sandy Harris
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Receiving a digital copy in exchange for an honest review, SNOW AND SHADOW is a collection of short stories by Dorothy Tse. The stories themselves are surrealistic, downright strange and oftentimes bizarre. I preferred the longer story "Snow and Shadow" to some of the shorter ones, where I wished she'd taken some of her ideas a few steps further than she did. This collection of stories is probably not everyone's cup of tea, but it you're in the mood for something different, this book will defini ...more
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This short story collection is challenging and provocative. Sometimes terrifying, often surreal, always containing hidden truths, these stories give each reader plenty of room to come away with his or her own interpretation. Fans of Aimee Bender, Tessa Mellas, or the stories in xo Orpheus will love this. Read my full review of this title at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
It was... creepy, weird, and literary. A reasonable example of the species, as far as I could tell, and someone who *likes* creepy, weird, and literary will probably greatly enjoy it.

I don't.

Last story I read before giving up is kind of still giving me the heebies.

I received this book from Goodreads for free in exchange for a review, insert standard boilerplate here.
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a such a great collection of short stories! It is really different from anything else you will ever read. It is filled with surreal and magical realism. You have to step outside the box before sitting down and reading this book.
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
3.5 stars
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Dorothy Tse Hiu-hung (謝曉虹) is the author of four short story collections in Chinese, including So Black (《好黑》, 2005) and A Dictionary of Two Cities (《雙城辭典》, 2013). Translations of her short fiction have appeared in The Guardian, Paper Republic, The Margins (AAWW) and Anomaly. Her English-language collection Snow and Shadow (2014, trans. Nicky Harman), was longlisted for the University of Rochester ...more

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