Written by Larissa Lai, a Chinese-Canadian writer who has always alchemised her production with Chinese mythology, The Tiger Flu (2018) is a polyphonic novel because of the plurality of interpretative acts it evokes, and because of its interweaving of different literary frames and genres. In the first part of this essay, I analyse how Lai exploits this complex intertwining of genres to address a sense of diasporic belonging. In the second part, I explore how this approach leads to moving beyond normative and totalising definitions. Lai sets up a multifaceted feminine space where issues about the rethinking of the category of woman, sisterhood and a broader conception of community can be raised. I argue that Lai’s representation of non-normative female bodies becomes functional in revealing how abject bodies can challenge the hegemonic meaning of gender and identity. In a critical reading that cannot be divorced from a (trans-)Canadian context, I conclude by exploring how Lai guides her readers on an intimate journey across increasingly fluid borders and an unsolved (and unsolvable) vision of the future.
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