Taobao by Dan. K Woo

Taobao is a lively collection of short stories, by Canadian Chinese debut author Dan K. Woo.  Taobao means “seeking treasure” in Mandarin but also is the name of a very popular online Chinese shopping platform. This name connects the complexities and contradicting elements of modern China, the rural and the modern, the traditions and the fast changes, all trying to come together in a country often misunderstood.  Also the cover is gorgeous and colourful and drew me in immediately.

These stories really vary, and the variety is often quite biting. Many of them are very surprising and always kept me on my toes. Some of the stories made me laugh out loud (literally) which is not something I do often. Some of them made me very sad and angry. The stories explore racism and sexism and power imbalances in relationships. They explore whiteness, and English in a country that has held different thoughts on these things. I could connect with some of this, and I understood it, as someone who lived as a foreigner in Taiwan for almost three years. Things are complicated. Woo explores these complexities, the meeting of east and west and the struggles to find who you are. There are young Chinese people in these stories grappling to connect their traditional and family expectations with modern sexuality and their own wants.

If you are a fan of short stories, this collection will move you through many emotions and packs a powerful punch.

Dan K. Woo’s family came to Canada in the 1970s. His grandfather was a fire captain and the first firefighter to die on duty in British Hong Kong, partly a result of the British colonial system. In 2018, Woo won the Ken Klonsky Award for Learning How to Love China (Quattro Books). His writing has appeared in such publications as the South China Morning PostQuill & Quire and China Daily USA. A Toronto native, he lives with his partner in the city and writes in his free time. He is currently studying at the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst and SANS Institute. 

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Buckrider Books (June 7 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 190 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1989496512
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1989496510

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Laurie Burns is an English as additional language teacher to immigrants, literacy volunteer and voracious reader living in Dartmouth.