Announcing Nghi Vo’s Debut Novella The Empress of Salt and Fortune

Tor.com Publishing is thrilled to announce that Ruoxi Chen has acquired World English rights to Nghi Vo’s debut novella, The Empress of Salt and Fortune. The deal was negotiated by Diana Fox of the Fox Literary Agency.

With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women. A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

Said Nghi Vo:

The Empress of Salt and Fortune is, among other things, a history of the things we touch and the things we allow to touch us. There’s a historian cleric, a rabbit-toothed maid, a very proper hoopoe bird, an unlucky fortuneteller, a lucky fox girl, and behind all of them, the woman who came from the north and took the south.

This story ambushed me one day. I wrote it, and I fell in love with it. It’s incredible that I’m getting a chance to share it with other people in the hopes that they’ll love it too. Ruoxi Chen was the first person to ever read this story, and I am so excited that she and Tor.com Publishing are giving me this opportunity!

Said Ruoxi Chen:

I think fans of the JY Yang’s Tensorate series and lush period dramas like Netflix’s Kingdom and The Crown will find a visual and narrative feast in The Empress of Salt and Fortune. There are oracle sticks, brocade and silk, seal fur dresses, haunted lakes, armies that move on mammoth (mammoth!), and the complicated wreckage of empire. This was one of those submissions I read in one sitting and emailed everyone about late on a Friday night. Nghi has a gift for the type of description that immediately transports a reader. This narrative—which understands that the seed of anything epic is the most artlessly, achingly tiny intimate detail—will break your heart just as thoroughly with what it leaves out as with what it leaves in. It’s also a narrative centered on two fascinating women, the ways in which women are allowed to be angry, and the question of who is ultimately allowed to write the history that lives on.

As an Asian-American editor, I’m especially moved and happy to be able to announce this ambitious, beautifully written project by an Asian-American author during Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It’s a stunning work of fantasy that blooms in the specificity and emotional truth of its details, and I can’t wait to share it with readers. To paraphrase the legend Sandra Oh, we’re just honored to be Asian.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Nghi Vo lives on the shores of Lake Michigan. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, PodCastle, and Lightspeed, and her short story, “Neither Witch nor Fairy” made the 2014 Tiptree Award Honor List. Nghi mostly writes about food, death, and family, but sometimes detours into blood, love, and rhetoric. She believes in the ritual of lipstick, the power of stories, and the right to change your mind.

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