Notes of a Crocodile
by Qiu Miaojin, a new translation from the Chinese by Bonnie Huie
An NYRB Classics Original
Set in the post-martial-law era of 1990s Taipei, Notes of a Crocodile depicts the coming-of-age of a group of queer misfits discovering love, friendship, and artistic affinity while hardly studying at Taiwan’s most prestigious university. Told through the eyes of an anonymous lesbian narrator nicknamed Lazi, Qiu Miaojin’s cult classic novel is a postmodern pastiche of diaries, vignettes, mash notes, aphorisms, exegesis, and satire by an incisive prose stylist and countercultural icon.
Afflicted by her fatalistic attraction to Shui Ling, an older woman who is alternately hot and cold toward her, Lazi turns for support to a circle of friends that includes the devil-may-care, rich-kid-turned-criminal Meng Sheng and his troubled, self-destructive gay lover Chu Kuang, as well as the bored, mischievous overachiever Tun Tun and her alluring slacker artist girlfriend Zhi Rou.
Bursting with the optimism of newfound liberation and romantic idealism despite corroding innocence, Notes of a Crocodile is a poignant and intimate masterpiece of social defiance by a singular voice in contemporary Chinese literature.qiu miaojin eileen myles bonnie huie
Billed as a cult classic and crafted with a unique mix of notes, diary entries, short scenes, and satire, this updated translation will shed more light on the work of a renowned but little-known author.
—Sara Novic, Elle
Miaojin's willingness to show youth at its most self-absorbed and earnest is part of the book's appeal. Most readers—perhaps especially those who identify as LGBTQ—will see themselves somewhere in Lazi's agonized social circle. But Miaojin also reminds her readers at every turn how truly isolating otherness can be...A meandering, but moving, look at queer identity.
Despite a short life, Qiu Miaojin has left behind a notable legacy in contemporary Chinese literature. Her writings, along with her tragic death, have shed new light on the predicament gays and lesbians faced in Taiwanese society.... At the heart of Qiu’s work lies the author’s recognition that the nature of passion and love intensifies human existence in both its most beautiful and its most monstrous moments.
—Li-hua Ying, Professor of English, Bard College
Qiu Miaojin...had an exceptional talent. Her voice is assertive, intellectual, witty, lyrical, and intimate...her works continue to command a huge following among college-educated lesbians in Taiwan, for she gave beautiful and soulful expression to the experiences of that community.
—Tze-Lan D. Sang, Professor of Chinese literature and media studies, Michigan State University