“A knockout short story collection...Each one of these 10 dizzyingly immersive stories offers up a heady and visceral portrait of what ails us, from isolation and self-doubt, to unrequited love and regret over what might have been, to what it means to be (and to be considered) an American." -- San Francisco Chronicle
Meng Jin’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Little Gods, was praised as “spectacular and emotionally polyphonic (Omar El-Akkad, BookPage), “powerful” (Washington Post), and “meticulously observed, daringly imagined” (Claire Messud). Now Jin turns her considerable talents to short fiction, in ten thematically linked stories.
Written during the turbulent years of the Trump administration and the first year of the pandemic, these stories explore intimacy and isolation, coming-of-age and coming to terms with the repercussions of past mistakes, fraying relationships and surprising moments of connection. Moving between San Francisco and China, and from unsparing realism to genre-bending delight, Self-Portrait with Ghost considers what it means to live in an age of heightened self-consciousness, seemingly endless access to knowledge, and little actual power.
Page-turning, thought-provoking, and wholly unique, Self-Portrait with Ghost further establishes Meng Jin as a writer who “reminds us that possible explanations in our universe are as varied as the beings who populate it” (Paris Review).
“A knockout short story collection. … Self-Portrait fires on all cylinders. … Each one of these 10 dizzyingly immersive stories offers up a heady and visceral portrait of what ails us, from isolation and self-doubt, to unrequited love and regret over what might have been, to what it means to be (and to be considered) an American. What’s most impressive about Jin’s collection is the way she confidently moves from timeless theme to complex idea — even within stories — without missing a beat.” — San Francisco Chronicle
"Masterfully crafted." — Good Morning America
Provocative...Throughout, there is beauty, wit, and pathos...A testament to Jin’s talent and versatility." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Deftly imaginative and brilliantly interrogative.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Captivating. … Jin’s writing is sharp and corrosive— a great follow-up from a talented writer.” — Buzzfeed
"Brilliant. ... Jin explores movement and growth, excavating the processes of building and losing relationships and connections both with oneself and others." — Alta
"Alluring, mysterious, and crackling with sly intelligence. In stories that move from San Francisco to urban China to a city where people walk through walls, Self-Portrait with Ghost stares into the churning inner lives of women who are complex, contradictory, and always fascinating. You will be mesmerized." — C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills is Gold
"Self-Portrait with Ghost is both haunted and haunting, populated with indelible characters who seem to live and breathe. And haunting, in that each of these stories casts a spell over ordinary life. Meng Jin writes with perception, precision, and humor, drawing from a well deep with desire — for love, for experience, for life itself. I will read anything she writes." — Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye Vitamin
“Meng Jin’s beautiful debut novel is ambitious in the best ways: meticulously observed, daringly imagined, rich in character and history. Ranging across continents, cultures and generations, Jin poses profound questions: how might we know ourselves, or the people we love? And what truths, if any, travel with us?”
— Claire Messud on Little Gods
"Reminiscent of Ferrante...are Jin’s protagonist’s larger-than-life talent, drive and perversity. In her intelligence, vulnerability, volatility, desperation, narcissism and self-destructiveness, Su Lan—despite her voicelessness—is as complex a protagonist as any I can recall....Little Gods expands the future of the immigrant novel." — New York Times Book Review
"Ambitious [and] formally complex...a powerful, poignant portrait of a woman crippled by her fear of looking back." — Washington Post on Little Gods
"If the mark of a good novel is its ability to delicately rewire the reader’s brain, then Meng Jin has given us a very good novel....Little Gods is a page-turner—but all the while it winks, reminding us that possible explanations in our universe are as varied as the beings who populate it." — Paris Review, Staff Pick
"Jin’s richly textured, unsparing writing questions whether a self can exist unmarked by the past." — New Yorker on Little Gods