Kim Fu in conversation with Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Thursday, January 23, 2014, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Kim Fu discusses her new book with Kristin Elizabeth Clark
and reads from
For Today I Am a Boy
from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Peter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivant—grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter's own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father.
At birth, Peter had been given the Chinese name juan chaun, powerful king. The exalted only son in the middle of three daughters, Peter was the one who would finally embody his immigrant father's ideal of power and masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he is certain he is a girl.
Sensitive, witty, and stunningly assured, Kim Fu's debut novel lays bare the costs of forsaking one's own path in deference to one laid out by others. For Today I Am a Boy is a coming-of-age tale like no other, and marks the emergence of an astonishing new literary voice.
Kim Fu's work has appeared in Maisonneuve, The Rumpus, Ms. Magazine, The Tyee, Prairie Fire, The Stranger, Grain, Room, and Best Canadian Essays, among others. She is the news columns editor for This, a magazine of progressive Canadian politics now in its 47th year, and writes the advice column ASK FU! for the YourBoxClub.com blog. She lives in Seattle with her husband and their many computers.
Kristin Elizabeth Clark is a writer and has worked as a child advocate inside the juvenile justice system as well as a children's theater producer. She is the author of the acclaimed young adult novel Freakboy.
What has been said about the work of Kim Fu:
"Quietly forceful… Fu is skilled at capturing feelings of rootlessness that go beyond gender, encompassing Peter's immigrant-son status and distance from his family. Peter’s search for a sense of normalcy—to finally become his female self—has a redemptive trajectory that feels fully earned. Shot through with melancholy while capturing the bliss of discovering one’s sexual self." —Kirkus Reviews
"Keep[s] you reading… Told in snatches of memory that hurt so much they have the ring of truth." —BUST Magazine
"Verdict: In this impressive debut, Fu sensitively and poetically portrays Peter’s predicament [and] painful sense of yearning." —Library Journal
"Excellent… An interesting, thought-provoking novel." —Booklist
“Debut author Fu’s sharp eye and the book’s specificity of place (the Huangs live in small-town Canada, where Peter’s father does whatever it takes to fit in and the rest of his family lies to him) provide freshness. Fu is adept at depicting the shifting alliances between [Peter] and his sisters, and at revealing how being an outsider shapes Peter’s expectations and options. ” —Publisher’s Weekly
“A powerful first novel written with unwavering focus. Fu explores the shape of gender and culture in a unique and mesmerizing story populated with characters who are fragile and strong all at once, who invite us to become them as they struggle with who they ultimately are. An important and rewarding read.” —Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo
“Fresh and pitch-perfect…. A heart-searing twist on the coming-of-age tale…. Fu orchestrates a collision of culture, generation, gender and place, each crashing head on with her true observations and dark humour…. Immensely readable, and unquestionably human.” —Michael Christie, author of The Beggar’s Garden
“The world doesn’t need many new novels, but the world needs this one.” —Keith Maillard, author of Gloria
“Haunting and poetic. A novel that moves past the confines of gender and beautifully explores the ache for human connection.” —Brian Francis, author of Fruit and Natural Order
“A brave debut… This very smart novel offers such a daring and timely twist on the classic tale of mistaken identity, all written in a tender and observant prose that reveals so much that’s true forever about human behaviour.” —Lee Henderson, author of The Man Game
“A sly, engaging read, this is a portrait of people so determined to fit in, they will hide their secrets by any lie necessary. Kim Fu’s debut is smooth yet spicy, a book you’ll have to talk about.” —Billie Livingston, author of Cease to Blush and One Good Hustle
“Fu gives us a memorable character trapped in the endless prism of identity. A thoroughly engrossing debut.” —Hal Niedzviecki, author of Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened