The story of a Chinese father and daughter in the late 19th-century American West: the daughter as she searches for her father, the father as he seeks a new life in a difficult land.

by Chun Ye
Catapult, Fall 2023

Following a devastating famine in her village, ten-year-old Lin‘s mother reluctantly sells her to a human trafficker, who promises to bring Lin to a better life in America. Her mother gives Lin the profits of the sale as well as a photo of her absent father, Guifeng, who had travelled to Gold Mountain years ago before cutting off communication with his family back home. STRAW DOGS OF THE UNIVERSE follows Lin’s brave journey through the unforgiving landscape of the American West—a place particularly hostile to Chinese immigrants—in hopes of finding her father and reuniting her family. The novel simultaneously traces the story of Guifeng who, little known to Lin, has found his attempts to build a new place for himself destabilized by both a long-lost passion from home and the seemingly inescapable violence of this new land.
A deeply felt generational story of little-known immigrant history in the vein of
Pachinko, STRAW DOGS OF THE UNIVERSE considers what makes or breaks the ties of family, and shows the strength and courage it takes to survive in a new world.

Ye Chun (first name: Chun, surname: Ye) is a former NEA Literature Fellow and a three-time recipient of the Pushcart Prize for poetry or fiction. She received an MFA in Poetry from the University of Virginia and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri. Her short stories have appeared in Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, and The Georgia Review, among other places. She has published two books of poetry: Travel Over Water and Lantern Puzzle, which won the Berkshire Prize. Her novel in Chinese,《海上的桃树》(Peach Tree in the Sea) was published by People’s Literature Publishing House in 2011. She has published three volumes of translations, including Ripened Wheat: Selected Poems of Hai Zi, shortlisted for the 2016 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Award, and Long River: Poems by Yang Jian. Her translation of Li-Young Lee’s Behind My Eyes and Undressing came out in 2019 from People’s Literature Publishing House, and her translation of Galway Kinnell’s The Book of Nightmares is forthcoming in 2020. She teaches at Providence College.

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