This interview first appeared in The Teeming Mass in Spring 2020
My Zoom call with the award-winning fantasy writer R.F. Kuang starts not with discussions of her formidable list of writing credentials but on much more common ground — exams. “At this point, I really just need to pass like, I’m into Yale,” says Kuang wryly, clad in a hoodie, “I’m very much feeling like a second semester senior. But I also feel pathologically unable to turn in bad work.” But despite her academic footing, she laughs when I ask her why she chose fantasy as her genre when her trilogy is so preoccupied with Chinese politics and history.
“I could give a cool academic answer, like, ‘fantasy and fabulism is a refracting prism for reality; and the metaphor of opium, something that was such a symbol of weakness in Chinese history, turned into a device of power for Chinese resistance, to me speaks of the potential of fantasy as a genre’. But that’s not true […] I think all I thought was fantasy is really cool. And I enjoyed reading it a lot. I was also influenced by like Chinese Wuxia novels, TV shows and manga […] So when I sat down to start writing it just seemed like the obvious format for the story wanted to tell.”Continue reading “In Conversation with R.F. Kuang”