Home Sickness

Chih-Ying Lay

Darryl Sterk

March 2020

Connecting is not easy, but proximity is unbearable. The characters in these brilliant and intense stories are longing for escape, but they inevitably find themselves homesick.

Chih-Ying Lay, a Taiwanese-Canadian, explores our desperate need for beauty and belonging–-and the cost when what is found is the opposite of both. Lay’s characters are outsiders, whether queer, indigenous, unloved, or lost, and each discovers that home is not the sanctuary it was meant to be. Sometimes, however, they find a place to call their very own, as if to tell the reader: You can, too.

"Good writers create worlds -- great writers, glittering constellations. Chih-Ying Lay's debut collection makes my head spin. Diamond-hard, harrowing, melancholy, bawdy, erudite, his stories stream with blood, sperm, tears, piss, sweat, passion, loss. A medical student lovingly dissects the body of a dear friend who was a political dissident; a twisted sexual triangle develops between an artist, her nine-year-old son, and a day labourer; a young man whose mother is in chemo develops sympathetic symptoms all his own. By turns blunt, cynical, yearning, delicate, wounding, Home Sickness is the work of a true original. As one queer writer to another, I salute an astonishing new talent."
Will Aitken, Antigone Undone

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Born in Taipei, CHIH-YING LAY came to Canada in 2008 to obtain his Ph.D. in Microbiology at McGill University. Stories from his first collection, The Escapist, published in Taiwan in 2008, have been awarded the Formosa Literature Prize and the Liberty Times Literature Prize. He has published a novel, The Ideal Family (2012), and another collection of short fiction, The Comic Lives of Losers (2016). A guest broadcaster both in Taiwan and for Radio Canada International in Montreal, Lay sings in Ensemble Sainte-Anne Singers and Musica Orbium. He works as a senior research scientist in Montreal.

DARRYL STERK has been translating Mandarin-language fiction from Taiwan and occasionally from China for a dozen years, most notably Wu Ming-Yi's two novels The Man With the Compound Eyes (Harvill Secker, 2013) and The Stolen Bicycle (Text, 2017), which was longlisted for the Booker International. He translated Xue Yiwei's Shenzheners (2016) and Dr. Bethune's Children (2017) for Linda Leith Publishing. Originally from Edmonton, Darryl Sterk lives in Hong Kong.    

$9.95 | ISBN: 9781773900445

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$ 4.95 | ISBN: 9781773900476

Format: Trade paper

Size: 8.5 x 5.5 in.

Pages: 220

What they say
Q&A: A bridge to Taiwan
All Lit Up

A multi-talented scientist, singer and writer hailing from Taipei, Chih-Ying Lay is the author of a new collection of stories that present a paradoxical yearning for home – the familiar feeling of homesickness –  as well as an intense desire to escape from its tethers. In this interview, Chih-Ying discusses LGBTQ+ culture in Taiwan, translation and issues of censorship, and the hope that his stories, translated here for the first time in English, will provide a bridge between Canadian/English readers and Taiwanese culture.

All Lit Up: When and where did you begin writing?
Chih-Ying Lay: I started writing as a child in Taiwan. I always liked writing fiction and I used to have an endless draft of an immature novel. In senior high school, I rewrote a classical short story into the modern form and showed that to my teacher. She thought it was interesting so she encouraged me to write a short story for the school literature prize. My story won second place. That was in 1997. It is included at the end of the Mandarin original of Home Sickness, but it was not translated for the English version. After that, I spent a long time learning what a “modern” short story might be like. I wrote some unpublished works and only got the chance to publish another short story in 2004. I won my second literary prize with that story.
Read more.
March 2020, All Lit Up


High praise
Will Aitken

"Good writers create worlds -- great writers, glittering constellations. Chih-Ying Lay's debut collection makes my head spin. Diamond-hard, harrowing, melancholy, bawdy, erudite, his stories stream with blood, sperm, tears, piss, sweat, passion, loss. A medical student lovingly dissects the body of a dear friend who was a political dissident; a twisted sexual triangle develops between an artist, her nine-year-old son, and a day labourer; a young man whose mother is in chemo develops sympathetic symptoms all his own. By turns blunt, cynical, yearning, delicate, wounding, Home Sickness is the work of a true original. As one queer writer to another, I salute an astonishing new talent."
Will Aitken is the author of Antigone Undone


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