Shortlisted for the 2017 Alberta Readers' Choice Award!
Finalist for the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction at the 2017 Alberta Literary Awards!
Winner of the Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize!
Paper Teeth follows the lives of the Lees, a Canadian-Chinese family and their friends who reside in Edmonton, Alberta. While playing with time and place, from Edmonton in the 1960s and 70s up to present-day Calgary, Lauralyn Chow creates a world of walking dolls, family car trips, fashion and frosty makeup, home renovations inspired by pop culture, and moving up to big, new houses. The interconnected stories found in Paper Teeth are fun, funny, and heart-warming journeys about the pursuit of identity and the crafting of home.
With domestic tomfoolery and through deft observation and prismatic-voiced humour—including ironic asides—Lauralyn Chow’s debut reveals how family nourishes hope.
Praise for Paper Teeth
"[The stories] are a part of a whole, a narrative that is more than the sum of its parts in many ways."
~ Keith Cadieux, The Winnipeg Review
"With unique humour and style, Paper Teeth introduces us to a fresh voice in Canadian short fiction."
~ Alissa McArthur, Room
"Sweet tempered and humorous, these are stories of home and hearth."
~ Sarah Murdoch, The Toronto Star
"The book is a lively jumble, much like the city it is based on."
~ Stephanie L. Lu, Canadian Literature
This hit-or-miss debut collection of 10 interrelated stories framed as items on "Today's Menu" (with title tie-ins such as "Number 117. Almond Guy Ding" and "Number 19. Egg Drop Soup") focuses on the Lee family's experience of race and interpersonal dynamics in Alberta during the 1960s and '70s. Covering familiar family history topics such as the quarrelsome family car vacation or the obligatory, mother-led Sunday pilgrimage to church, the author innovates with sarcastic, pointed, or meditative square bracket note asides, such as "". One of the strongest stories, "Number 1. A Bowl of Rice, A Plate of Sliced Oranges," juxtaposes the telling of a long-ago family episode with adult Janie Lee's anxious or brusque attitudes about her family's past and her own understandings of racialized identity. Chow highlights both the significance of family history and the evolving roles that race played (particularly via direct or indirect racism) in the lives of the Lees over the decades. Two weaker stories describe a minor family event from the points of view of all five family members, which makes the stories longer but does not compensate for the slightness of the episodes themselves.