- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (February 3, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780312875596
- ISBN-13: 978-0312875596
- ASIN: 0312875592
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fox Woman Paperback – February 3, 2001
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“The Fox Woman is a wonderfully evocative and gripping novel, a book that will stay with you and resonate in your heart long after the final page is turned.” ―Charles de Lint
“The Fox Woman is a magnificent book, powerfully and profoundly moving, in its moods and atmosphere, utterly magical, a genuine and unique work of high art. And all of this expressed through language that is elegant, economical, graceful. The Fox Woman immediately sets the author in the front rank of today's novelists.” ―Lloyd Alexander
“If you want lush prose, romantic settings, and a poetry-of-the-soul book, run--do not walk--to get this. God, I wish I had written it!” ―Jane Yolen
“Kij Johnson reminds us that the magic (and strength) of Fantasy is seeing ourselves in the mirror of the Other. Never has that mirror shimmered more seductively. Look.” ―Terry Bisson
“Lush, vivid, and charming, The Fox Woman is a beautifully written and poignant fable unlike any other fantasy I have ever read.” ―Kevin J. Anderson
“I enjoyed presenting to Kij Johnson the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for her short story 'The Fox Woman,' but I enjoyed even more reading the novel she has created around the Japanese myth of the fox who falls in love with a nobleman and becomes a woman. It is wise, witty, and wonderful.” ―James Gunn
About the Author
Kij Johnson is the author of several novels, including The Fox Woman and Fudoki. Her short fiction has sold to Amazing Stories, Analog, Asimov's, Duelist Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Realms of Fantasy. She won the Theodore A. Sturgeon award for the best short story of 1994 for her novelette in Asimov's, "Fox Magic." In 2001, she won the International Association for the Fantastic in the Art's Crawford Award for best new fantasy novelist of the year.
She taught writing and science-fiction writing at Louisiana State University and at the University of Kansas, and has lectured on creativity and writing at bookstores and businesses across the country. Since 1994, she has assisted at the Writer's Workshop for Science Fiction, hosted by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. Since 1999, she has taught a series of writing seminars at the GenCon Game Fair.
In the past ten years, she has worked as managing editor at Tor Books; collections and special editions editor for Dark Horse Comics; editor, continuity manager and creative director for Wizards of the Coast; and as a program manager on the Microsoft Reader. She has also run chain and independent bookstores, worked as a radio announcer and engineer, edited cryptic crosswords, and waitressed in a strip bar.
She lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with her husband, writer Chris McKitterick, a dog and two cats.
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The Fox Woman takes the form of an epistolary novel, with the events and--more significantly--the internal development of the characters being developed through the journal entries of Kaya no Yoshifuji, his wife, Shikujo, and Kitsune, a little fox who is infatuated with Yoshifuji. The story develops slowly, rather like a tree awakening into bloom. While some readers seem to have been put off by this oblique development, I find that it gives breathing space for the characters, a narrative legitimacy, and helps give the reader time to realize that the real nature of this novel is not that of a neatly plotted series of events, but rather more a meditation upon the realities of our own lives, our fantasies ritualized into legitimacy, our own courteous lies and kindnesses.
The characters in this book are not heroic. Nor are they idealized. Yoshifuji has failed at court, and he is increasingly distant from his wife and son. Kitsune, his wife, who takes as her models the idealized characters of monogatari tales, is ever-perfect in her wifely courtesy, and unintentionally aloof in her perfection. The fox woman, herself, is not treated with the light hand of the fantasist, but is constantly faced with the all too real consequences of her actions. One reviewer [ goo.gl/lEVf ] expressed a desire "to stab all of the characters in the eye with sharpened sticks," for their sin of irritating the reader. Others have indicted the characters of the crime of dullness. I think these readers are missing the point. Yoshifuji, Shikujo, and Kitsune act as we act, think as we think, dream as we dream. They are guilty of being infected with our own misguided mediocrity. If we recognize our kinship to them, we stand to gain from their painful if fictional lives. If we stand over them, accusing them, failing to recognize how we are never very far from their delusional mendacity, then we will continue to live as they lived-fictional lives, built on a thin and failing glamour, doomed to face the truth only when there is no less painful delusion in which to escape.
Kij Johnson gives us beauty and sensitivity. She gives us a chance to see some small way into the truth of our lives, and she does so gently and without judgment. In this, she gives us a gift worthy of reverence.
[Originally posted at [...] ( goo.gl/Ghh9 ).]
When Kaya No Yoshifuji and his family move to the capital, it upsets two sets of lives, those of his family and those of the family of foxes that have been living underneath the unused country house. Kitsune, the fox, looks on these strangers with a sense of longing and wonder, unable to understand their human ways. Soon her obsession reflects in Yoshifuji, who becomes obsessed with the foxes living near his home. As Kitsune's obsession grows, she falls in love with Yoshifuji and seeks to use fox-magic to transform herself into a woman to obtain his love.
Woven into the story is a wonderful collection of poetry. Yoshifuji and his wife trade poems in a custom that is difficult for Kitsune to understand. So it may also be for the readers of fantasy who are not well-versed in reading poetry. Yet, readers should neither ignore nor underestimate these lines. The simple words are beautiful, as the poem that Yoshifuji writes on the surface of a fan his wife left behind: "The spider's web can catch the moonlight, / but cannot keep it."
The poetry is an intricate part of the novel, not only for its beauty but also for its importance within the story. Yet, it is not only the poetry within the novel that keeps the reader entranced, but the poetry of the novel. The lives of the characters are reflected in the seasons, their surroundings, and even in the spider web that Yoshifuji refuses to have swept away from his room. The novel reminds the reader of the poetry of life, and the beauty that exists in all things.
Kij Johnson does a masterful job of writing a fantasy story that is a love story, a fable, and a poem. As her first novel, it is a wonderful promise of things to come.
I had found this book when searching for fox and other mythological and magical animal tales on a whim. I read a few passages from the sample; and fell in love with reading for the first time in a very long time. Much of my reading material at the time were text books that thus added to the dry and gray world that I was trudging through during the last year of college. The Fox Woman painted a beautiful world through poetic writing that I had not seen from any other book I have ever read. This book, to me at least, held the elegant mysticism I was looking for.