Books

Kwai Yun Li  - Click this link to find Kwai's books on Amazon

The Palm Leaf Fan
2006
From crumbling shops in Chinatown to decaying tanneries in Tangra, this collection of short stories expose us to the sights, sounds, and smells of a marginalized community in post-colonial Calcutta.

We meander into Wong’s Shoe Shop, where a mother arranges a marriage for her six year old daughter. We stop at a school for girls, where the principal singles out students who have large breasts for punishment. We pause by a temple guarded by a billy goat where family drama rages. We rally with politicians while monsoon rain drenches us. We relax under waving palms while the setting sun shimmers over the surface of Tangra fish ponds.

The Palm Leaf Fan's sensitivity and quirky sense of humour will keep you wanting to return to the ghetto, again and again.
On the reading lists for three classes at U of T at Mississauga, York University and Jadavpur University, Kolkata.
Fiction. Toronto: TSAR Publications.
Read an excerpt from "The Fish Pond."
All TSAR publications are available online.
In the Indian Subcontinent and Singapore this same collection is published by Penguin Books under the title: The Last Dragon Dance.


To purchase from Penguin in India, click this link

The Last Dragon Dance
2008
"'Kwai-Yun Li’s debut collection . . . about being Chinese in 1950s India, proves her a natural story-teller’—Tehelka
On a hot summer day in 1942, sitting outside her shoe shop in Bentinck Street, a mother fixes her six-year-old daughter’s marriage to her neighbour’s son. A widow converts a part of her house to a temple so that she can support her family with the donations. During a border skirmish in the north-east, Chinese mothers prepare packages for life in concentration camps giving special instructions to the children, lest they get separated. A gentle bookseller and his daughter disappear in the middle of the night when they are deported to China for his political sympathies. And in the delightful story ‘Uncle Worry’, Uncle Chien worries when his daughter Pi Moi forgets to call him: he worries that she and her husband, Mohamed, have had a falling out. He worries when Pi Moi does call, for she must be fighting with Mohamed, otherwise why would she call? From crumbling shops in Chinatown to decaying tanneries in Tangra, Kwai-Yun Li’s The Last Dragon Dance: Chinatown Stories, exposes us to the life of the little-known Chinese community in Calcutta.
While the arrival of the Chinese in India abounds in legends, the mass exodus of this dwindling community is not as romantic: political and economic upheavals have forced them to abandon their home. Even though theirs is so much a story of assimilation and syncretism—growing up in 1950s’ Calcutta one never paid much attention to which customs were Indian or Chinese—the Chinese have often felt the brunt of their foreignness. The rift between Mao and Chiang Kai Shek led to the deportment and imprisonment of hundreds of Maoist sympathizers. This collection gives voice to such concerns without being overtly sentimental or sensational; Li never fails to see the humour in the idiosyncrasies of her community. These inspired-from-life stories wonderfully capture the mood of the time with unassuming grace." ---From the Penguin Books India website
Fiction. New Delhi: Penguin Books.
Available online at the Penguin Books India website.
Available for sale under the title The Last Dragon Dance in the Indian Subcontinent and Singapore only.
This same collection is published by TSAR Publications as The Palm Leaf Fan.




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These are our stories. Thank you for your kind comment and laugh as often as you can. Peaches D. Ledwidge, author of Day Laughs Night Cries: Fifteen