The Palm Leaf Fan and Other Stories

From crumbling shops in Chinatown to decaying tanneries in Tangra, Kwai-yun Li’s collection of linked short stories expose us to the life of a marginalized community in postcolonial 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 the monsoon rain drenches us. We relax under waving palms while the setting sun shimmers over the surface of the Tangra fish ponds.

Kwai-yun Li’s sensitivity and quirky sense of humour will keep us wanting to return to the ghetto again and again.

“The short stories in this volume are marked by a sureness of touch and an acuity of observation that match the best in their genre.”
–China Report

“The most striking element of Li’s writing is her ability to synthesize delicate, rich imagery with the dirt of reality.”
City Masala

‘First-Rate’ writing . . . complicate(s) and enrich(es) our understanding of transnational formations in the Chinese diaspora.”


Publication Date: 2006

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-894770-31-6
Page size: 5.75″ x 8.75″
112 pages

eBook ISBN: 978-1-894770-84-2

Photo of Kwai-Yun Li

Kwai-Yun Li’s Hakka parents emigrated from Moi-yen, China to Calcutta, India, where Kwai was born. She grew up in Chattawalla Gully, in the old part of the city, and came to Canada through an arranged marriage. She is a co-author of A Kiss Beside the Monkey Bars, a collection of short stories.