Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories” as Want to Read:
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  16,465 ratings  ·  2,647 reviews
A publishing event: Bestselling author Ken Liu selects his award-winning science fiction and fantasy tales for a groundbreaking collection—including a brand-new piece exclusive to this volume.

With his debut novel, The Grace of Kings, taking the literary world by storm, Ken Liu now shares his finest short fiction in The Paper Menagerie. This mesmerizing collection features
Hardcover, First Edition, 453 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Gallery / Saga Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Leah Rachel von Essen Because people believe that accessible writing isn't for adults.

I often see this problem with fantasy and sci fi being considered for young readers si…more
Because people believe that accessible writing isn't for adults.

I often see this problem with fantasy and sci fi being considered for young readers simply because it is genre fiction. It's a common supposition that's unfair to most authors categorized that way.(less)
Irina Chen Ascending The Leyou Pleasure Park
Li Shangyin (813-858) -- Translated by Frank C. Yue

The gloom in my heart blooms towards late evening;
Up the old Park …more
Ascending The Leyou Pleasure Park
Li Shangyin (813-858) -- Translated by Frank C. Yue

The gloom in my heart blooms towards late evening;
Up the old Park my cart I am driving.
The setting sun's endlessly endearing,
But the light of day is disappearing!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,465 ratings  ·  2,647 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
Michael Finocchiaro
Absolutely stunning collection of short stories which teach and entertain in equal measure. Ken Liu has an incredible imagination and these stories are all so different and yet all so amazing. I, like many others, come to Ken Liu after his superb translations of Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem and Death's End and I can see that he was the perfect choice because his love of language and culture echoes that of Cixin Liu in many, many ways. I also saw some commonality in some of their sci fi ide ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Petrik by: Katherine
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is a powerful and beautiful anthology that encompassed some of the most relatable stories to our society, and some even felt very personal to me.

Excluding translation works, this anthology is my first experience reading Ken Liu’s original stories. Right after reading Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Cixin Liu, I knew right from that moment that I must read more of Ken Liu’s original work because of the fantastic job he did on translating The Three-Body Problem
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written, powerful anthology of first-rate speculative fiction stories.

Ken Liu is an impressive guy, besides writing he is also a lawyer and a programmer. Many readers first read his translation of Liu Cixin’s Hugo award winning novel The Three-Body Problem. I read his 2014 short work Reborn and so had a good idea he can produce a gem on his own.

Building on ubiquitous themes of Asian-American cultural pluralities and Chinese myth and legend, Liu does an impressive job creati
Matthew Quann
A review of all short stories in this collection featuring my parents!

Herein contains a review unlike any other I’ve done! I get home so infrequently that I drummed up the idea of involving my parents in some of my reading. My parents enjoy the odd book, but aren’t what I would describe as avid readers. So I proposed that I would read them a story a night (for 15 nights) from acclaimed sci-fi and fantasy author Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie.

All they knew about the book prior to the reading was
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nataliya by: Maggie
This short, bittersweet, and deceptively simple 15-page story (which you can read free here) focuses on the unexpected pain of trying to belong, showing it through a boy's troubled relationship with his mother, viewed through the prism of cultural conflict, the inevitable clash between the old and the new, and the soft tinge of origami-shaped sadness.
" Dad had picked Mom out of a catalog."
"What kind of woman puts herself into a catalog so that she can be bought? The high school me thought I kne
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I rated each story separate in updates and I could make average rating but I'm not going to do that. Whole is more than sum of it's parts and as a whole this short story collection is an easy 5 stars and only short story collection that I give 5 stars that isn't written by Ray Bradbury. Best stories in this collection are among best I read overall and even "lesser" ones didn't left me indifferent.
In genre stories are rather diverse. There is good ol' hard sci-fi, alternative history and historic

The day I read a book written by Ken Liu and think it's less than pure magnificent is the day the world will cease to exist.
Once again, I'm entranced.

I was first introduced to his genius through his Dandelion Dynasty series and the Wall of Storms (second book) instantly became one of my top five favourite books of all time.
I knew then he was a once-in-a-generation author and this is by no means an exaggeration, just a simple statement of fact and this beautiful collection of short stories
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

One of my favorite books last year was The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, but before he published his debut novel he was already an accomplished writer of many award-winning short stories. While in general I am not a big reader of short fiction, I’d happily make the exception for some authors’ anthologies and you can definitely bet Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is one of them.

Like many collections, there are stor
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars, rounding up. A young boy, the son of an American father and a Chinese immigrant mother, discovers that his mother has the magical gift of making origami animals that live. She makes him a lion, Laohu, a shark, and other paper animals that play and chase around their home.


The details of his childhood, playing with his living origami menagerie, are delightful:
Once, the water buffalo jumped into a dish of soy sauce on the table at dinner. (He wanted to wallow, like a real water buffalo
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
Frankly, this collection of short stories is one of the best I've ever read, if not the best. It's common, when reading a short short collection, to find some stories less engaging than others, but I was invested in every story in this collection. These stories run through a gamut of genres: science fiction to fantasy to history, often combining aspects from many, but they always had a stark focus on humanity. From what makes us human to human monstrosity to culture and colonialism and how it fe ...more
I wanted to love this short story collection, but most of Ken Liu's characters fell flat. These stories contain so much good stuff: fascinating elements of science-fiction and fantasy, themes that include culture and racism and fighting for justice, surprising turns of plot that keep you on your toes - but very few of them create a lasting emotional impact. Throughout reading these individual stories, I envisioned Liu thinking "oh, this could be a really cool *insert magical realism device or un ...more
In retrospect I decided to up this book to a full five stars. It truly was a wonderful read and had some many diverse and interesting stories within it. While perhaps not as strongly linked thematically as Stories of Your Life and Others (also by a Chinese-American writer), they nearly all delivered on fascinating and engaging stories.

One common motif he employed was writing about various alien (and I mean ALIEN) species and civilizations. One story looked at how they created books (or their cul
TS Chan
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

I've been meaning to read Ken Liu's collection of short stories for a quite a while. His translation for two of Cixin Liu's books in the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy was excellent and I've heard a lot of great things about the titular short story of this collection.

In my opinion, the preface alone warrants at least a 5-star and an award. Liu's writing is utterly beautiful and profound, and one can clearly see how talented and intelligent this author is just from reading his pref
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm filled with shame for not having read these fantastic short stories earlier. Instead, I just focused on reading Ken Liu's translations of Cixin Liu, and Ken Liu's own enormous epic fantasy, ignoring, (wrongly-so) his award-winning short fiction.

*rubs hands together and gets to work*

I was delighted by almost all the short, sometimes strange, fiction that filled the first pages.

The Bookmaking Species of Select Species tickled all my librophile instincts.

State Change made me change tracks HAR
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful collection of short SFF/Speculative fiction stories all written by the highly intelligent and eloquent Ken Liu. This wasn't my first time reading from Liu as I read his translation of the Three Body Problem, but this was my first time reading his own work and I was thoroughly impressed!

What I think I loved most about the stories within this collection is that each one felt unique and genuine. Every voice of the narrator was different and they all had differing themes and topi
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who post inspirational stories about kittens on their Facebook feeds
This sounds to me like something a college sophomore would write because he's like "If I write about my heritage and sad dead mom my creative writing professor pretty much has to give me an A, right?" And when he reads it in class everyone says it's great because emotions, man, except that one sortof bitchy darkhaired girl who listens to a lot of Tori Amos and everybody hates her except you, you kindof have a crush on her, and in fact next year you will have a brief, disappointing relationship w ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Flannery by: Tatiana
Shelves: read-in-2012, shorts
This short story won the 2011 Nebula Prize for Short Fiction. The Paper Menagerie is a very quick 15 or so page read about a young man's relationship with his mother. The narrator is half American/half Chinese and his mother came to live in the suburbs of Connecticut as a mail order bride. He can't understand why she was ever a mail order bride, why his father married her, and why she won't learn English or try harder to fit into American culture. The strongest connection between mother and son ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing collection of Ken Liu's shorter work that is always moving but often harrowing, and at its most disturbing when he turns his beautiful prose to historical events.

This collection includes the brilliant "Mono No Aware", set on a lightsail spaceship fleeing a destroyed Earth and the emotionally gutting "The Paper Menagerie", dealing with the relationship a half-Chinese man has with his Chinese mother. Both of these are Hugo winners, but they're far from the only brilliant stories in the
Manuel Antão
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Mono No Aware: "The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories" by Ken Liu

After finishing "The Three-Body Problem", I was curious to know more about Ken Liu, the book's translator. And I picked up this collection. I've always thought short fiction is harder to write than longer works. And what a choice it was. Not all of the stories are clear winners, but the ones that are, oh my.

When I'm driving and the sun sets over the huge fields around me
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I will keep track of notes of the stories as I go since I'm reading this between other things.

The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species
More about storytelling and how our sense of being informs how we save and tell stories, I know I've read this one before. The ideas are very imaginative.

State Change
What if your soul were a cigarette box, or an ice cube? What happens when you smoke the last one or the ice melts?

The Perfect Match
The dangers of what we trade for our privacy. This was a bit preachy b
David Yoon
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Despite a shaky start — a thoughtful story that’s a tad too clinical for my liking — this collection blew me away. Ken Liu talks in the preface about prizing the logic of metaphors and you can see how carefully he prizes that in his stories. Nearly every one works on multiple levels without feeling heavy handed. Some stories he manages to write historical fiction that’s somehow science fiction at the same time, others are straight ahead sci-fi thrillers that could easily warrant an entire book. ...more
I loved this collection of stories. Beautiful prose, interesting ideas, and at times deeply sad. Ken Liu is clearly adept at a number of styles and subgenres; the collection ranges from coming of age to mystery to time travel to others. I was particularly moved by “The Paper Menagerie” story; it was wonderful and made me teary.
I listened to this, and enjoyed the the use of two narrators. (On a side note, I also listened to LeVar Burton's interpretation (on his LeVar Reads podcast) of “The Paper
How often does this happen : you have barely passed the introduction of a book and you feel your heart swelling with that very particular feeling of love for the words that drives bookworms such as myself to pile up books in every nook and cranny of the house. Well, this is what happened to me when I curled up in bed one evening last week with Ken Liu’s collection “The Paper Menagerie”. On top of being a very talented author, Mr. Liu is also a translator, and as such, he has a grasp over a layer ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2017
Short stories are not my cup of tea. Usually I stumble upon the collection containing few pure gems and plenty of minor things which I find neither charming nor representative. Hence I finally drew the conclusion that I should never begin the acquaintance with a new author with short stories, setting them aside till I’m sure their creator and me are getting on. Ken Liu is an exeption in this regard and exceptional in every other.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is a collection of poignant
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Review at my blog.

Merged review:

This is only a summary of the full reviews of the stories in this collection. You'll find detailed reviews at my blog.

I've previously read Lius's story The Regular and his last year's novel The Grace of Kings. Both make me think that this could be a must-read. I went first to the eponymous story The Paper Menagerie and after a couple of stories, I realized the author's diversity in style and topics: I became a fan of this author, as you'll never get bored, be it t
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I don't remember when I read this. I do remember the overwhelming sadness it left behind though.
This is a short story about a boy whose mother is a mail order bride from Hong Kong. It is also a story of prejudices and a boy's shame. He wished her to be the same as everyone around them.

It would take years for the collection of origami animals made by his mother when he was a child to come alive and give him a special message. Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans interested in the blend/link between different cultures
Recommended to jade by: a Popular Short Sci-Fi Stories list, which was 100% correct
short story collections are always challenging to review.

that said, with this blend of sci-fi, magical realism, history, and speculative fiction in general, ken liu has done something amazing. he explores themes of individual identity and cultural identity, the merging between the two, and looks at the humanity of expression by deconstructing language.

some stories are short and simple. others are infinitely more layered. all of them are heartrending in various ways. one of the main themes echoi
As much as I wanted to love The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, I have to be honest in that I only thought it was okay. I mean, I can see how these stories established a reputation for Ken Liu, and there’s no doubt that some of them are indeed award worthy, but I didn’t connect with nearly as many as I would have liked.

Before you start getting disappointed, however, let me say that I blame the format, not necessarily the content. I’ve always been drawn to doorstopper fantasy novels like The G
Well, this short story made me cry more in 15 pages than any other book I've read this year -- except for Patrick Ness's gut punches masquerading as books. This story of the Chinese-American son of a mail order bride who learns of his otherness from cruel neighborhood kids and begins to resent the source of his difference, his mother, was heartbreaking, poignant, and familiar. It reminded me of all the times my brother and I would refuse to eat with chopsticks or speak Korean, how we demanded na ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
It is more of a 2.5 stars rating. If nothing else, this book is a huge improvement over the godawful The Grace of Kings ripoff crap by the same author.

Furthermore, I am actually glad that readers might learn a bit more about modern Chinese history, traditional cultures and practices; but honestly as a Chinese, this Ken Liu guy didn't tell me anything I don't know or help me to look at things with a new angle. What a disappointment.

Even worse, I don't get along with any of the Sci-Fi stuff he wr
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Tampa Nerd Night ...: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories – August 2016 1 3 May 01, 2020 06:28PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Exhalation: Stories
  • Stories of Your Life and Others
  • Elmore Leonard, The Colonel's Lady and No Man's Gun : Unabridged Stories from The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories
  • The Best American Short Stories 2012
  • Pen America Best Debut Short Stories 2017
  • Half an Inch of Water
  • Apex Magazine Issue 59
  • Chivalry
  • วันที่เหมาะกับขนมปัง ซุป และแมว
  • Kin
  • Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories
  • The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1)
  • Different Kinds of Darkness
  • Death's End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #3)
  • Fantasy: The Very Best of 2005
  • The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)
  • ตาสว่าง
  • Brownsville: Stories
See similar books…
Ken Liu ( is an American author of speculative fiction. He has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, as well as top genre honors in Japan, Spain, and France, among other places.

Ken's debut novel, The Grace of Kings, is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers play the role of wizards. His debut collection, The Paper

Articles featuring this book

Dystopias, alien invasions, regenerated dinosaurs, space operas, multiverses, and more, the realm of science fiction takes readers out of this ...
534 likes · 510 comments
“Who can say if the thoughts you have in your mind as you read these words are the same thoughts I had in my mind as I typed them? We are different, you and I, and the qualia of our consciousnesses are as divergent as two stars at the ends of the universe.

And yet, whatever has been lost in translation in the long journey of my thoughts through the maze of civilization to your mind, I think you do understand me, and you think you do understand me. Our minds managed to touch, if but briefly and imperfectly.

Does that thought not make the universe seem just a bit kinder, a bit brighter, a bit warmer and more human?

We live for such miracles.”
“Every act of communication is a miracle of translation.” 65 likes
More quotes…