Can Xue's Latest Collection of Short Stories

April 18, 2014
By Lu HuanEditor: Amanda Wu
Can Xue's Latest Collection of Short Stories
Can Xue's short stories Erosion (left) and The Notes of Lovers (right) [douban.com]

Chinese avant-garde fiction writer Can Xue's books have always attracted great attention in literary circles, gaining popularity especially among overseas media, publishers, critics and readers.

For the past three decades, Can Xue has lived a secluded life, but she has been very clear-sighted when it comes to social issues and completed her latest collection of five short stories, published by the Hunan Literature and Art Publishing House and released at the Beijing Book Fair earlier this year.

The collection includes Erosion, The Notes of Lovers, A Willow's Confession, Amethyst Chinese Rose and Vertical Reading, which were all completed from 2003 to 2013.

It's worth mentioning that the collection has received warm recommendations from authoritative foreign media organizations, such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Yomiuri Shimbun and Kyodo News, as well as famous writers and critics, such as Susan Sontag, Ma Yueran, Wang Meng and Chen Xiaoming.

Compared with her previous short stories, Cai Xue said, "These short stories, featuring more universal relevance to people's lives, reveal that people in danger can keep all their eggs in one basket and proceed without hesitation."

Can Xue, whose pseudonym in Chinese means both the dirty snow that refuses to melt and the purest snow at the top of a high mountain, was born Deng Xiaohua in 1953 in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province.

When she was young, she loved literature so much that she read fiction and poetry whenever she could, especially classical Western literature and Russian literature.

Can Xue always treasured literature as a source of spiritual freedom but also saw no shame in pursuing material wealth. But she never imagined she would earn a good living as a writer. It was in 1983 that, acting on impulse, she wrote her first novel Huang Ni Street. Publishing her maiden work was not easy. As she said, "None of the well-known magazines was interested."Eventually Ding Ling, one of China's most influential contemporary woman writers, agreed in 1985 to serialize Huang Ni Street in her magazine China, an avant-garde platform for young writers.

Before long Can Xue's writings drew the attention of overseas literati. In 1986, as she recalls, "My works began to enter literary circles in Japan and the US," and in 1988 Huang Ni Street went on the market in Taiwan, south China.

As of 2009, Can Xue has published a total of three novels, 50 novellas, 120 short stories, and six book-length commentaries. A few volumes of her fiction, mostly short stories, have been translated into English, including Dialogues in Paradise (1989), Old Floating Cloud (1991), The Embroidered Shoes (1997), Blue Light in the Sky and Other Stories (2006), Five Spice Street (2009), and Vertical Motion (2011).

Statistics show Can Xue has the largest number of works translated into foreign languages among female Chinese writers, and thus she has been hailed as a world-class writer.

Some literary scholars and readers regard Can Xue as one of the most experimental writers in the world, while Can Xue describes her works as 'soul literature' or 'life literature.'

(Source: Changjiang Business Daily and web.mit.edu/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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