First Look: 'Small Beauty' and 'The Impossible Fairytale'

Today we’re truly thrilled to reveal the covers of two of our forthcoming titles: Small Beauty by jiaqing wilson-yang and The Impossible Fairytale by Han Yujoo (translated by Janet Hong). These two haunting and internationally lauded novels will have their first Australian publications in July and August respectively.

If you’re a fan of delayed gratification/surprise gifts from yourself, we recommend you hit those pre-order buttons below. Or line up a birthday copy now for that discerning Cancerian/Leo in your life.

Small Beauty, by jiaqing wilson-yang
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Small Beauty

by jia qing wilson-yang


cover art by Lee Lai

First published by Metonymy Press in Canada. Winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Awards prize for Best Transgender Fiction.

In coping with the sudden death of her cousin, Mei abandons her life in the city to live in his empty house in the small town of Herbertsville. There she connects with his history as well as her own, discovers her aunt’s secret love, and reflects on the trans women she left behind.

While navigating her self-imposed isolation, Mei brushes up against local mysteries and receives advice from departed loved ones. A complex tapestry of memory and revelation, Small Beauty explores grief, family and community in a stirring story that quietly roars.

jia qing wilson-yang is a trans woman living in Toronto. She likes to write poems and stories and music. Her writing has appeared in Bound to Struggle: Where Kink and Radical Politics Meet (ed. Simon Strikeback), Letters Lived: Radical Reflections, Revolutionary Paths (ed. Sheila Sampath), and the women of colour issue of Room magazine. She has recorded several acoustic albums and this one time was a drummer in a pop punk band. Small Beauty is her first novel.

Praise for the book

"A quiet, gorgeous meditation on grief, race, and community, wilson-yang’s writing more than delivers on the title’s promise. ... Small Beauty joins the small but growing numbers of trans-genre novels written by transgender women that are revolutionizing our ideas of how trans people can exist within fiction."
Morgan M. Page, Lambda Literary

"wilson-yang is a fucking beautiful writer and her lyrical prose about this messed-up girl is some of the most gorgeous writing trans lit has been blessed with."
Casey Plett, The Winnipeg Review

"Every paragraph is dense with meaning, each one concise, descriptive, and exacting, I found wilson-yang’s sentences tantamount to poetry and was struck immediately by the tautness of the text."

Kaley Kiermayr

The Impossible Fairytale, by Han Yujoo
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The Impossible Fairytale

by Han Yujoo, translated by Janet Hong


First published by Tilted Axis in the UK (we publish this book as the first of our new partnership with Tilted Axis) and Graywolf Press in the USA.

The Impossible Fairytale tells the story of the nameless ‘Child’, who struggles to make a mark on the world, and her classmate Mia, whose spoiled life is everything the Child's is not.

At school, their fellow students, whether lucky or luckless or unlucky, seem consumed by an almost murderous rage. Adults are nearly invisible, and the society the children create on their own is marked by soul-crushing hierarchies and an underlying menace. One day after hours the Child sneaks into the classroom to add ominous sentences to her classmates’ notebooks, setting in motion a series of cataclysmic events.

A teacher, who is also this book’s author, wakes from an intense dream. When she arrives at her next class, she recognises a student: the Child, who knows about the events of the novel’s first half, which took place years before.

The Impossible Fairytale is a fresh and terrifying exploration of the ethics of art making and of the stinging consequences of neglect.

Han Yujoo was born in Seoul in 1982. Her debut novel The Impossible Fairytale is her first work translated into English, published by Graywolf in the USA and by Tilted Axis Press in the UK. She is also the author of the short-story collections To the Moon, Book of Ice, and My Left Hand the King, My Right Hand the King’s Scribe. She won the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award in 2009. She is also a translator, is an active member of the experimental group Rue, and also runs her own micro-press, Oulipo Press, focusing on publishing experimental fiction.

Praise for the book

"This début novel sketches the barbaric politics of elementary school with terrifying clarity … The narrative turn is both exuberantly postmodern and in dead earnest."
The New Yorker

"Han Yujoo casts an uncanny cloak of dreams over a South Korean childhood. ... Janet Hong, the translator, proves adept with both the skin-prickling horror of the novel’s first half, and the second half’s dark night of the literary soul."
The Economist

"Grappling with topics such as childhood, bullying, and what it means to tell a story, The Impossible Fairytale is an impressively unique and challenging read that is well worth your while."
"A powerful and primal work, a deliberately constructed story that incorporates irrationality, fear and change, and holds the reader's attention throughout."
Star Tribune
"[Han’s] work is a victory of form that packs an emotional wallop. . . . With her shifts and slights of hand, Han Yujoo makes us question the narrative constructions we lean on to understand and move through our own worlds, leaving us in a state of unknowing that is both terrifying and exhilarating."
The Gazette

Both these books are months away, though! For now, we're especially vibrating on a cellular level for the release of our May titles, Axiomatic and Balancing Acts: Women in Sport, both officially out next week.

Lastly, if you're in Melbourne, do come along to the launches of Apple and Knife (10 May), Balancing Acts: Women in Sport (11 May) and Axiomatic (19 May).