Three Powerful Novels Featuring Origami

Origami is an artform of folding paper. This tradition is symbolic and is done in many Asian cultures. To celebrate Origami Day, here are three powerful novels that feature origami.

Book Culture On This Day Recommendations

Today is Origami Day! Origami is traditional to Japanese culture, however, all paper folding practices originate in other regions. Origami is a skill that teaches patience and creativity and is a part of various Asian cultures. To celebrate the crafting of paper, here are three novels that feature origami in a symbolic way:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan


A high school romance, but in a gay friendly town. That’s what this romantic trope of a novel is about. The ultimate Young adult romance. Paul is a sophomore in high school and he meets Noah. Paul immediately thinks Noah is the one, after spending time together. However, he blows it. There’s a slim chance he can try and win Noah back. But when his best friends Joni and Tony become distant, and his ex is lingering in the shadows; Paul needs to realize that this life must fall apart before it comes back together. One of the most romantic gestures in the novel is when Paul makes paper cranes and puts them all around Noah’s locker.

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu


This novel won the Hugo, the Nebula, and The World Fantasy Award. This novel is a story of family loss, magic and love. The heart of this novel is zhezi, a traditional Chinese skill of origami. Jack’s mom used to make him zhezi animals, putting life into them. These were his perfect playmates. This tradition was her way of sharing her ancestry. As Jack gets older he loses interest in the art of zhezi and his mom. This symbolizes family vulnerability and fragility, like the paper of the origami art itself.

Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr


This 1977 novel is based on the life of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who got leukemia from radiation during the Hiroshima bombing in WWII. Sadako was told the Japanese legend: if you fold a thousand paper cranes, the gods will grand you a wish. Coerr’s retelling of Sadako was that she was able to create 664 origami cranes before her death. Her parents continued the rest of the paper cranes and donated them to a memorial in her honor.

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