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The Tiger Flu

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  605 ratings  ·  126 reviews
In this visionary novel by Larissa Lai--her first in sixteen years--a community of parthenogenic women, sent into exile by the male-dominated Salt Water City, goes to war against disease, technology, and powerful men that threaten them with extinction.

Kirilow is a doctor apprentice whose lover Peristrophe is a "starfish," a woman who can regenerate her own limbs and organs
Paperback, 334 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Arsenal Pulp Press
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  605 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recs, 2020
Some books are hard to sum up, and this is one of them. Set in post-apocalyptic Vancouver, in a world devastated by climate change, crawling with monsters, and plagued by a mysterious, man-killing flu, the plot charts the sundry trials of a pair of girls on the cusp of coming of age, one ultra violent and one less so, who are united only by their desire to save each of their families from a set of common enemies. The pacing’s frenetic, the mood hallucinatory. Recalling the works of feminist post ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book felt like I inhaled some strange, out-of-this-world, hallucinogenic drug. If you think the cover is eclectic and psychedelic, wait until you actually read this.

This novel takes readers on an absolute mind f***. There’s an exiled lesbian commune with a genetic mutation that allows some of them to asexually reproduce. “Starfish” women that can regenerate limbs and organs. An insidious technology that separates the mind from the body. A rampant, deadly disease that primarily affects men.
Another wild vision from Larissa Lai! Queer feminist biopunk ft. mewling catcoats, battlepikes with meaty sucking tubes, an all-female colony of cloned and cloning sisters who reproduce through parthenogenesis, satellite mainframes named Chang and Eng that function like sun and moon. The level of invention is supreme and never flattens out. I'm not sure the emotional weight was there for me in the end though I loved being immersed in this world. ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Larissa Lai has created a very strange world in The Tiger Flu, a lightning fast eruption of a novel. In this future version of our earth, waves of plagues have killed off many men; Caspian tigers have been restored from extinction; famine is widespread; some women have been genetically engineered to parthogenetically reproduce or regrow parts of their bodies; metallic scales and drugs can create extraordinary, half-real hallucinations; climate change has completely changed the landscape, and mor ...more
Will Dominique
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, owned, futuristic, 2018
I wanted to love this so much more than I really did. As amazing as Lai’s prose and ideas are again, I’m confused, and not in the way where I can really just go with it and fully enjoy the book anyways. I feel like my lack of understanding has inhibited my ability to really appreciate its mastery, and I wish Lai had added some more clarity. I wanted a better grasp of her world, its geopolitics, and how everything came together.
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sapphic, fiction, scifi
I decided to live dangerously by reading a novel about a pandemic during a pandemic. I just could not resist the beautiful cover of 'The Tiger Flu' once my copy arrived from the Lighthouse. It's a strange and hallucinatory tale set in apocalyptic was-once-North America during the year 2145. The story follows two women, both genetically engineered somehow, through vividly imagined chaos and disaster. Although the world-building elements came together in an original and fascinating way, some of th ...more
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
im so confused

Rep: lesbian mc, non-white cast

CWs: attempted rape, gore, eye horror, cannibalism
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved reading The Tiger Flu, a fast paced sci fi novel following two ultimately intertwined narratives set in a near future after the depletion of oil. Kora Ko lives in the First Quarantine Ring, struggling to survive in a world ravaged by the tiger flu, a disease which predominantly affects men. Kirilow Groudsel is a groom in Grist Village, a commune founded by escaped experiments with the ability to reproduce by basically cloning. Her surgical talents are put to use taking care of ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Tiger Flu is a horrifying, imaginative tale that I love with all my heart. Like Salt Fish Girl, it was confusing, frustrating, and rife with disgusting imagery and inventions yet also exciting, fascinating, and able to fill this “Salt Water Flat” dweller with a deep love for the fierce and persistent protagonists.

A novel about the world to come, after climate catastrophe and mass extinction, where illness, genetic experimentation, and technocracy have reshaped “Cascadia”. So much reminded m
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not entirely sure what happened in this book, but I think I liked it. ...more
Wow, what a wild ride 🤯 THE TIGER FLU by Larissa Lai feels like a psychedelic experience. It’s the Gregorian year 2145 and Saltwater City has been ravaged by the tiger flu (that predominantly affects men) and is surrounded by four quarantine rings. One of these rings is home to the exiled Grist community, an all-female group of doublers (individuals that can clone themselves), starfish (individuals that can regrow organs and limbs for other members), and grooms (individuals that attend to the tr ...more
Interesting plot set in a grimy, grotesque future. The visuals and disjointed narrative brought to mind the David Cronenberg movie eXistenZ. Really the sort of thing you have to be in the mood for.

This would probably work better as a movie.

Was read as a recommendation from my LGBTQ book club but I don’t think I ever discovered the queer relationship in the story. There is a loving relationship between two characters who live in an all female community. In this future world, human births happen
3.5/5 stars

I really don’t know what I just read. This very much felt like a fever dream, but I kinda liked it? Actually, I enjoyed it a lot, especially at the beginning. I never quite felt in the loop about what was happening, but there was something about the feeling of the book that drew me in. I can’t explain what that feeling is, because I don’t know myself, but I did find this book alluring. So much so that I stopped the audiobook and bought the book so I could read it faster, which isn’t s
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everything about The Tiger Flu (nominated for a 2019 Lambda Literary Award) is dangerous—its world, most of its people, and its steadfastness in shaping an unconventional narrative. It’s a horrifying and fascinating vision of the future and what could happen if we embrace the wrong technologies. If you read this book, you won’t forget it anytime soon, and you may even want to go back to page one as soon as you’ve finished, just to experience it all over again.

Full review: https://www.lambdaliter
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that The Tiger Flu is unlike anything I’ve read before. The depth and range of Larissa Lai’s imagination is truly impressive. There’s a lot going on here: a disease called the "Tiger Flu" that mainly affects men, a group of exiled women called the Grist Sisters who can asexually reproduce, “starfish” women who can regenerate lost limbs and organs, a new technology that separates the mind from the body, major environmental destruction, and that’s not even ...more
xueh wei
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gifted
I saw a review that said "I'm not sure what happened but I think I liked it." ~ to which I say: SAME.

We are immediately thrown into a strange world where the men are more prone to being infected by the tiger flu, and on the other hand we have an asexually reproducing lesbian commune? (Or something like that, I'm not good at describing it!) It's a very other worldly read, and I've never read anything like it before.

Even though it was confusing at first, once you begin to get to know the world Lai
Mar 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
A difficult read with multiple discontinuities and difficult threads to master.
Books That Burn
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Tiger Flu is a cyberpunk fever dream built on family, sisterhood, desperation, and blood. Visceral and evocative, capturing the way dreams taken too far become everyone's nightmare.

There are two MCs, one of which is trying to do the best thing for her family even though they're basically all dying or dead; going through the motions because even the motions still matter, damn it. The other is in a holding pattern, repulsed by thoughts of the past in a way that denies the reader knowledge of i
This has got to be one of the most imaginative post-apocalyptic novels I've ever read. The world building is incredible. You're dropped into this very foreign landscape with a lot of unusual terms and ideas to digest. The author doesn't hold your hand explaining stuff, and you figure things out as the characters experience them. I liked the challenge.

Kirilow Groundsel is the kind of tough, take-no-crap female protagonist I love. She belongs to a matriarchal community where women reproduce throu
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great world-building and a post-apocalyptic novel partially set in a mouldering Vancouver condo tower of course gave me ideas for my own survival plan, but I couldn't figure out what was going on for quite a bit of this. I appreciate when sci fi authors show rather than tell their technological inventions, but neither were happening. It took me until the end to figure out what Chang and Eng exactly were and I'm still not sure what a scale or catcoat is. ...more
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
In beginning, I loved how the story was unfolding. However, at the mid way point it became disjointed. It felt like the author ran out of ideas on how to further develop the story and the characters, so it felt rushed.Speaking of which, the characters lacked development - they were very 2 dimensional.
On another note, the world was unlike one I have ever read before. The author word choice allowed me to fully immerse myself in the world of 2135 and beyond.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bipoc, fiction, queerness
one of the most exquisitely imaginative books i've read in a long time, if ever. The premise of a world post oil with various factions fighting for power isn't that hard to relate to these days. This book is about the strength of women and their attempts to survive in whatever way they can. I loved the characters of Kirilow and Kora, the Cordova Dancing School for Girls and the Grist village. ...more
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know how to describe this book, I’m not even totally sure what happened in the last quarter of the book.

Can reading a book make you high? How Fantastically strange.

This review makes no sense, but I loved this book.
Jacob Wren
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It starts as remarkable, beautifully written sci-fi and then gradually transforms itself into some kind of literary-hallucinogenic drugs.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended to any Vancouverites. Strange, difficult, and fleshy.
Sara Grimes
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The only reason this doesnt have 5 stars is because the plot is a little confusing at times. Otherwise it is an amazing novel that I thoroughly enjoyed
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This book launches us headlong into a post-oil, climate-changed "Vancouver" featuring a commune of parthenogenic sister-clones, cyberpunk consciousness mainframes, and hallucinogenic Chinese herbal medicines turned street drugs. It gives no quarter. That dedication reminded me of Neal Stephenson, but the larger premise seemed more like something by Karen Tei Yamashita. @waxpoeticness recommended this to me, saying it turned every fantasy trope on its head, and I felt that. I don't know that I gr ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is definitely not for everyone, but it is definitely the perfect book for me. Surreal, lyric sci-fi with good opinions.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A hallucinatory futuristic queer dystopia seen through the regenerated fever dream starfish eyes of parthenogenic women.
Michelle Morgan
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: what-i-read-2020
I couldn’t put this down. There were moments when I really loved it- it was a brisk and fast-paced adventure for sure. I wish the story itself had been fleshed out more (not a pun, for anyone who has read it). The skeleton of the back story is weaved throughout but I had to keep going to the list of characters and places in the front to keep track, which is helpful if you have to do it a couple times but annoying if you have to do it multiple times.

As a fan of Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy and Oct
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Larissa Lai has authored three novels, The Tiger Flu, Salt Fish Girl and When Fox Is a Thousand; two poetry collections, sybil unrest (with Rita Wong) and Automaton Biographies; a chapbook, Eggs in the Basement; and a critical book, Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s. A recipient of the Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers' Award, she has been a fina ...more

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