“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).
About the Author
Meng Jin was born in Shanghai and lives in San Francisco. A Kundiman Fellow, she is a graduate of Harvard and Hunter College. Little Gods is her first novel.
“Intoxicating. … A poignant and immersive collection by a writer with fine-tuned sensibilities and an elegant artistic vision.” — New York Times Book 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)
"Mesmerizing." — Vogue
“An engrossing collection that, from the very first story, captures the reader’s attention and curiosity. … Enticing, thought-provoking.” — Shondaland
"So scarily intelligent that reading [Jin's] sentences you feel personally observed...gem after gem." — Glamour
"Sharp and compelling." — Ms. magazine
“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
"Super charged. Memory, desire, love and more are engineered into haunting tales (with a sidecar of humor). Settings from urban China to San Francisco to otherworldly landscapes, where walls dissolve and disaster lurks online and spreads outside of any lines recognizable or imagined, are just one captivating element of these stories. Jin’s first novel, Little Gods, earned critical acclaim and industry awards. Her story collection upholds all previous standards and more." — East Bay Express