Ken Liu, "The Journal"


It's December 15. Ken Liu, author of The Paper Menagerie, lets sleeping books lie.

How would you describe your story?

KEN LIU: “The Journal” is about the inability (or perhaps the impossibility) for people in the most intimate relationship to communicate with each other. Whether the problem is exacerbated by modernity is an open question.

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

KL: I wrote it at a time when I was thinking a lot about the way technology mediates our communications and performances. I decided that rather than exploring the issue from a science fictional perspective, a more metaphorical approach might be more revealing.

What kind of research went into this story?

KL: I tweeted a lot.

What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing can't?

KL: I think it’s possible to develop voices for short stories that might be grating or tiresome in the long form. Sometimes we’d be happy to sit down with someone and listen to them recount an anecdote, but if they tried to tell their life story, there’s not enough whiskey in the world to make it bearable. 

Where should people go to learn more about you and your work?

KL: They can go to my website,, or follow me on Twitter: @kyliu99. I do not promise that I’ll be tweeting anything that makes sense.

What's the best gift you've ever been given?

KL: A friend sent me a SNES Classic—which I was unable to acquire on my own despite a valiant effort. My daughters and I have been playing Street Fighter and Zelda, and it is the best.

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Michael Hingston