Z is for Zodiac

Illustrations by Maritta Nurmi
Text by Elizabeth Rush

Has anyone ever told you they were born in the year of the horse, the dog, or the tiger? This story tells of how the Asian zodiac began with an invitation to a grand party from the powerful spirit, Jade Emperor. Every animal was invited, and the first twelve to reach the party would be honored by a having a year in the zodiac named after them. And thus a competition began!

In melodic verse, Elizabeth Rush tells this fantastical story, filled with animals using their unique strengths to reach Jade Emperor’s party before the others. Maritta Nurmi brings the animals to life using strange and beautiful patterns that weave their spirits into our world. Discover what it means to be born in a year of the zodiac.


Elizabeth Rush is the author of Rising: The Unsettling of the American Shore (Milkweed Editions, 2018) and Still Lifes from a Vanishing City: Essays and Photographs from Yangon, Myanmar (Things Asian, 2014.) She has collaborated with artists from all over Asia for the Things Asian Alphabetical World series and her essays have appeared in Harpers, Granta, Guernica, Creative Nonfiction, Orion, Le Monde Diplomatique and others. In 2016, she was awarded the Howard Foundation Fellowship by Brown University where she currently teaches courses on writing and reading literary nonfiction. 


Maritta Nurmi is a biologist and visual artist based in Finland and Vietnam. Experimenting and processing are key elements in her practice. When canvas is not enough, Nurmi paints atop 3D objects: mundane tables, stools or ceramic jars, all get a new beatific life by her hand. At an artist residency in Benin, Africa she added wearable art to her repertoire. Most recently she has been venturing into public art and community-based art projects. Nurmi has had museum and gallery exhibitions in Asia, Europe and the United States. Her works belong in private collections worldwide and are also housed in public collections such as those of the State of Finland, Waino Aaltonen Museum (WAM), Hameenlinna Art Museum, Aboa Vetus Museum, Prudential Tokyo and Nikko Vietnam. 

2018, 6 1/2 x 10 inches; 48 pages; hardcover; color images
ISBN-10: 1-934159-43-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-934159-43-9

See the trailer...