Literary perspective

The short story “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu is a postmodern work of fiction. Postmodern literary works tend to use first-person narrators who present the events from their subjective perspective. Postmodern literature also challeng…


Works in the same genre

The short story “Born Again” by Anne Billson also belongs to the magical realism genre. The story presents a woman who is pregnant although she is a born-again virgin, and who has to protect herself and her unborn baby from members of a religious cult. In both “Born Again” and “The Paper Menagerie”, supernatural elements like magic are mixed with everyday life. 

Ben Okri’s short story “A Wrinkle in the Realm” also has elements of magical realism. In the short story, the main character asks t…


Works with the same theme

The short story “The North London Book of the Dead” by Will Self deals with the theme of mother-son relationships. In the story, the narrator has a close but tense relationship with his mother, as she is embarrassing and overly critical. Their relationship resumes after her death, when the narrator meets her on the street, in a different part of London. Just like “The Paper Menagerie”, “The North London Book of the Dead” shares some magical realism features, like the presence of spirits and supernatural elements. 

For the theme of the clash of cultures and identities, we recommend you read the short story “Who’s Irish?” by Gish Jen. Here, the theme is illustrated by the narrator’s difficulty to adapt to American life. The narrator, who is Chinese, believ…

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