Longlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize
A major new collection of stories by one of the most exciting and creative voices in contemporary Chinese literature
Can Xue's stories observe no obvious conventions of plot or characterization. That is the only rule they follow. Instead, they tend to limn a disordered and poetic state given structure by philosophical wonder and emotional rigor.
Combining elements of both Chinese materiality-the love of physical things-and Western abstract thinking, Can Xue invites her readers into an immersive landscape that blends empirical fact and illusion, mixes the physical and spiritual, and probes the space between consciousness and oblivion. She brings us to a place that is both readily familiar yet unmappable and can make us hyperaware of the inherent unreliability in our relationship to the world around us. Delightful, enchanting, and filled with secrets, Can Xue's newest collection shines a light on the forces that give contours to the visible terrain we acknowledge as reality.
Can Xue draws the reader into a world of the grotesque and the surreal, of uncertain spaces and indeterminate identities, of sexual menace and psychological disorientation. These novellas are about life in post-Mao China, but not the China of social realism or of Western fantasy.
The thirteen stories of "Dialogues in Paradise "are eloquent in a way the West associates with both the modern and the ancient: the dark oracles of Aeschylus and Sophocles, the paranoid mystery of Kafka, the moving stream of Woolf. The work of Can Xue (a pseudonym of Changsa writer Deng Xiao-hua) renews our consciousness of the long tradition of the irrational in our literature, where dreams and reality constitute one territory, its borders open, the passage back and forth barely discernible. She fuses lyrical purity with the darkest visions of the grotesque and the result is a unique literary experience
The most ambitious work of fiction by a writer widely considered the most important novelist working in China today
In this darkly comic novel, a group of women inhabits a world of constant surveillance, where informants lurk in the flower beds and false reports fly. Conspiracies abound in a community that normalizes paranoia and suspicion. Some try to flee-whether to a mysterious gambling bordello or to ancestral homes that can be reached only underground through muddy caves, sewers, and tunnels. Others seek out the refuge of Nest County, where traditional Chinese herbal medicines can reshape or psychologically transport the self. Each life is circumscribed by buried secrets and transcendent delusions.
Can Xue's masterful love stories for the new millennium trace love's many guises-satirical, tragic, transient, lasting, nebulous, and fulfilling-against a kaleidoscopic backdrop of commerce and industry, fraud and exploitation, and sex and romance drawn from the East and the West.
A novel about a street in an unnamed city whose inhabitants speculate on the life of a mysterious Madam X. It interweaves their endless suppositions into a work that is at once political parable and surreal fantasia.
A selection of harsh, sometimes violent, and often surreal stories by the premier young avant-garde Chinese woman writer.
A couple moves with their young daughter to the seaside, only to be terrorized by hostile townsfolk, predatory seabirds, and the persistent sound of the waves. Two old friends spend their waning days traipsing amongst ruined walls, imagining bubbling brooks and lush marshland. An old man lives atop a bizarre wooden building in the clouds, where he is served pancakes by a hostile youth.
These are the scenarios of just some of the stories in this generous new collection by Can Xue. Although rooted in the folk traditions of Chinese literature and the real conflicts of contemporary Chinese life, Can Xue's stories exist in a separate space and time where dreams and reality coalesce: tenderness quickly turns to violence, strange diseases are caught, and quaint landscapes become phantasmagorical. Can Xue's literary world is inhabited by ghosts, dying old men, street urchins, cobblers, farmers, cats, rats, and stray dogs. Much influenced by Borges, Kafka, and Bruno Schulz, this new collection of Can Xue's surreal stories confirms The New York Times' assessment that "reading Can Xue's fiction is like running downhill in the dark; you've got momentum, but you don't know where you're headed."
Explores a street in an unnamed city whose inhabitants speculate on the life of a mysterious Madam X. Exploring the collective consciousness of this little street of ordinary people, this novel penetrates the deepest existential anxieties of the day, whether in China or in the West.