Asian horror appears to have been on the rise in recent years with literary events and awards lists featuring both indigenous writers and people of the diaspora—those living beyond Asia in other countries. These creatives are bringing old lore and fresh perspectives to the horror genre, addressing topics such as gender, tradition, racism, poverty, war, and oppression through the lens of their lived experience. And Asian horror stories run the full gamut from terror to triumph, from epic adventure to ethereal ghost tales, and from bloody battles to quiet suffering. Yet as rich and vibrant as they are chilling, Asian stories always present a challenge, told as they are at the intersection of cultures, languages, landscapes, and generations.
Throughout Asian Heritage Month, Kendall Reviews has been celebrating Asian horror creatives, culture, and folklore in this exclusive interview series with contributors from Unquiet Spirits: Essays by Asian Women in Horror edited by Lee Murray and Angela Yuriko Smith (Black Spot Books, Feb 2023). And here to culminate the interview series is a list of chilling must-read horror, nine titles hot-off-the-press in recent months from the writers of Unquiet Spirits.
Just released from Nebula Award-nominated author Ai Jiang, her first novella-length horror text, Linghun. It’s described as a modern gothic ghost story set in the mysterious town of Home, a place where the deceased come back to life and the residents refuse to let go.
“Ai Jiang’s Linghun is the ache that follows after every funeral, when the mourners are gone and nothing is left but the haunting of memories. A ruthlessly precise meditation on what grief does to the heart, Linghun is a must-read if you enjoy crying your way through every chapter of a book.” —Cassandra Khaw, USA Today bestselling author of Nothing But Blackened Teeth
Also from Ai Jiang in recent months, who is having a stupendous year, is Smol Tales from Between Worlds her debut collection of dark speculative tales.
Ai Jiang is a Chinese-Canadian writer, and an immigrant from Fujian. She is a member of HWA, SFWA, and Codex. Her work can be found in F&SF, The Dark, Uncanny, among others. She is the recipient of Odyssey Workshop’s 2022 Fresh Voices Scholarship. Look or her upcoming novelette, I AM AI, forthcoming in June from Shortwave Media.
From the author of acclaimed short story collection Sometimes We’re Cruel and Other Stories, Thai-American J.A.W. McCarthy has just released her novella Sleep Alone (Off Limits Press), a chilling and irreverent tale of travelling succubi! What’s not to love?
“Sleep Alone thrives in a lustful, hungry ballad, where McCarthy’s horror beats with yearning hearts and carnal desperation. A classic trinity of sex, blood, and rock and roll.” —Hailey Piper
If dark poetry is your go-to read, then you can’t go past three-time Bram Stoker Award®-Winning poet Christina Sng, a fourth-generation Singaporean whose grandmothers were Teochew and Cantonese. Sng’s collection of micro-poems The Gravity of Existence was released from Interstellar Flight Press in the dying days of 2022, and is currently a Bram Stoker-nominated work.
“Christina Sng creates a collection of poems and micro-tales, some devastatingly sad, some astoundingly beautiful & others horrifying.”—Amazon reviewer
Yvette Tan, one of the Philippines’ most celebrated horror writers, has recently released her second short story collection, a follow-up to her acclaimed Waking the Dead. In Seek Ye Whore and Other Stories, two friends adapt in a zombie-infested Angeles City, a girl and a young tikbalang begin their journey to save the last moon, and a brothel in Poblacion offers an expecting father pleasures he cannot resist. And in the titular story, an American unwittingly purchases a mail-order bride from the mystical island of Siquijor. Seek Ye Whore and Other Stories offers a panoramic view of the Filipino experience—sometimes humorous and touching, oftentimes dark and forbidding. Lovers of folk horror should add this to their reading list.
Another novella released on the tail end of 2022, is K.P. Kulski’s beautifully horrific House of Pungsu.
“As sharp as broken porcelain and delicate as a peony’s petals, House of Pungsu is the story my spirit hungered for. K.P. Kulski shifts rice paper doors to reveal the darkest truth.”—Lee Murray, USA Today Bestselling author, Shirley Jackson and Bram Stoker Award® winner.
A Korean-American author born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kulski is also the author of the gothic horror novel, Fairest Flesh (Strangehouse) and her short fiction has appeared in Fantasy and Unnerving Magazines, and anthologies, Chromophobia, The Dead Inside, and Not All Monsters.
In recent months, Aurealis and Norma K. Hemming Award-nominee Grace Chan released her debut novel, a dark speculative title called Every Version of You, and already the work has been attracting award attention, nominated for the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, and longlisted for Australia’s Stella Prize. Every Version of You has been described as Never Let Me Go meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Murakami surrealism thrown in.
“Every Version of You is cerebral in both the reading experience and universe; but it will also pluck your hidden heartstrings, leaving you unsettled, captivated, and aching for more.”—Geneve Flynn, Bram Stoker- and Shirley Jackson Award-winning author, editor, and poet.
Author-editors Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn celebrated the re-release of their acclaimed anthology of Asian women’s horror fiction, Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, in March. Winner of the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Awards, and shortlisted for the British Fantasy, Aurealis, and Australian Shadows Awards, the new Raw Dog Screaming Press edition includes all the original fabulous tales, a foreword by Alma Katsu (The Fervour) and an insightful new afterword by Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Nancy Holder.
“…storytelling that leads us to believe that the horrors of the past are real, have not died, and are waiting to be reborn in the present. Recommended.” —Monster Librarian
Finally, Unquiet Spirits: Essays by Asian Women in Horror (edited by Lee Murray and Angela Yuriko Smith) was released in February from Black Spot Books. In this title, Asian writers of horror reflect on the impact of superstition, spirits, and the supernatural in a unique collection of 21 personal essays exploring themes of otherness, identity, expectation, duty, and loss, and leading, ultimately, to understanding and empowerment.
“As an expert in the paranormal I’ve researched ghosts around the globe, but there’s a vast gulf between studying hungry ghosts and fox spirits in scholarly journals, and reading first-hand experience of these extraordinary stories. The pieces in Unquiet Spirits are beautiful, enlightening, poignant, and yes, haunting. This is a must-have book for anyone who is interested in the folklore of Asia and how it has impacted the lives of the women actually living it.” —Lisa Morton, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Ghosts: A Haunted History
Catch up on Kendall Reviews Asian Heritage Month Exclusive Interviews and content please follow the links.
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