Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft were Chinese and his tales were true.
Or if a national, political figure like Benjamin Franklin was also a paranormal investigator—one who wrote up his investigations with a chilling, story-telling flair that reads like a combination of Franz Kafka and Zhuangzi.
In China, a figure existed in the eighteenth century who was a little bit of both these things. Special Advisor to the emperor, Head of the Department of War, Imperial Librarian, and one of the most celebrated scholars and poets of his time, his name was Ji Yun.
Beginning in 1789, Ji Yun published five volumes of weird tales that combined supernatural and frequently moving autobiographical accounts with early speculative fictions. By turns darkly comic, terrifying, and transcendentally mystical, they revolutionized Chinese speculative and horror fiction AND nonfiction, and portrayed a China never before depicted: one poised between old ways and new, where repeating rifles shared the world with Tibetan black-magic, Jesuit astronomers rubbed elbows with cosmic horrors, and a vibrant sex trade of the reanimated dead was conducted in the night.
Combining insights into Chinese magic and metaphysics with tales of cannibal villages, sentient fogs, and alien encounters; as well as nightmarish narratives of soul swapping, haunted cities, and fox spirits; no other work compares to Ji Yun’s. Designed as both entertainment and an occult technology that awakens readers to new dimensions of reality, one cannot walk away from his stories unchanged. The Shadow Book of Ji Yun is a literary translation of Ji Yun’s most masterful tales.
Awards and Honors of Individual Pieces
*Finalist for the 2020 [Gabriel García Márquez] “Gabo” Award for Literature in Translation
*Selected for New England Review’s 2020 Haunting and Haunted Issue
*Selected for Strange Horizon’s "Samovar" quarterly special issue
*Nominated as “Best Microfiction” by Cincinnati Review
*Nominated as “Best of the Net” by Passages North
*Nominated as “Best of the Net” by Cincinnati Review