Hopeful Monsters

The unbearable voices of mythic manatees, the cry of the phoenix, the whispers of kappa lovers beside a gurgling stream. The voice of the moon that is ever turned away from our gaze, the song of suns colliding. The sounds which permeate from my skin on such a level of intensity that mortal senses recoil, deflect beauty into ugliness as a way of coping. And my joy. Such incredible joy. The hairs on my arms stand electric, the static energy and the heat amplifies my smell/sound with such exponential dizzying intensity, that the plastic which surrounds me bursts apart, falls away from my being like an artificial cocoon.
I hover, twenty feet in the air.

The title of Hopeful Monsters refers to genetically abnormal organisms that naturally adapt to their environments. In Hiromi Goto’s quietly devastating stories, the hopeful monsters in question are women confounded by familial duty and the ghosts of their past.

As mothers, daughters, wives, and “stinky girls,” they are the walking wounded—a mother terrified by a newborn daughter who bears a tail; a woman who cannot breast-feed without pain; three generations of women who dream of lives that are not their own. But their wills are a force of nature unto themselves, and their struggles for selfhood are imbued with the light of myth and magic-realism. In these tales of domestic crises and cultural dissonance, Goto makes the familiar seem strange, and deciphers those moments when the idyllic skews into the absurd, the sublime, even the horrific.

Alternately poignant and noisy, these stories establish Hiromi Goto’s gift for short fiction that is as shining as her acclaimed novels.


These are stories that, without resorting to too much supernatural trickery, truly deliver both a disturbing frisson and a psychological punch.
—Quill & Quire

Stunning, like small diamonds adorning a beautiful hand. The stories’ often weird endings take Margaret Atwood’s technological fictions several steps closer to the macabre into a sort of “Twilight Zone” of postmodern family life that mostly features postfeminist women at their fickle witchiest.
—The Multicultural Review

The stories are loose, full of gaps and jarring disjunctions, but at the same time are marked by a poet’s attention to language and the ability to find beauty and solace in the strange and unknowable. Hopeful Monsters carries the genetic material of recognizable genres–coming-of-age story, immigrant narrative, feminist text–but it defies categorization. It’s a hybrid entity for a hybrid time.

If you loved Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, you’ll love this book…
—The Calgary Herald

The writing is sleek in its economy but pointed in its observation. Yet often a metaphor will bloom into something sublimely sensual. Goto knows how to take her characters into hard places. You won’t like all of them—but you won’t want to leave them alone. Gorgeous.
—Now Magazine

Nature and civilized society are at odds in stories where anything, no matter how improbable to scientifically trained minds, can happen, and we believe every word of it. That we do is a testament to Goto’s fine writing and confident tone. Hopeful Monsters is like the baby with the tail: weird and marvellous at the same time.
—The Georgia Straight

The book dips like a diving rod into the nuances of tradition that separate and define generations.
—The Rain Review of Books

There is something odd, beautiful and often macabre in the tales of this Burnaby author.
—Monday Magazine

Hopeful Monsters,a set of the novelist’s sickly delicious short stories.
—Hour Magazine

Hopeful Monsters is an invitation for us to reassess the “others” that we are so quick to sidestep in our daily lives—not simply the popularly denounced monsters, such as the sex offender, but also the smaller monsters, like the tyrannical boss, or the hostile neighbour.

One of the most compelling features of this collection is Goto’s capacity to, with great sensitivity, recreate amd revision the discourse around monsters and monster making.
—Swerve Magazine


  1. […] with an Asian girl examining the grass, a dental x-ray gracing the cover of Hiromi Goto’s Hopeful Monsters, a green envelope with a letter, and two mini galaxy notebooks. One blank and another who has every […]