"I do not tell plane stories; I tell stereoscopic stories"
November 12, 2017 1:05 PM   Subscribe

The Mysterious Frontiers of Can Xue - 'The author, whom the American novelist and editor Bradford Morrow has described as one of the most “innovative and important” in contemporary world literature, revels in such mysteries and entanglements. Can Xue is the genderless pen name of Deng Xiaohua, who was born in 1953, in Changsha City, in Hunan Province. In Chinese, the name means “residual snow,” a phrase, Deng has explained, that is used to describe both “the dirty snow that refuses to melt” and “the purest snow at the top of a high mountain.”

The moniker hints at the author’s contrary relationship to contemporary Chinese literary culture, which, she has said, provides “no support for originality, which is sometimes even suppressed.” In interviews, her persona is mischievous; she regularly refers to herself in the third person (“Why do young people matter so much for Can Xue? Because they are Can Xue’s hope”) and sometimes communicates in an almost mystical register. The essence of her artistic mission, she has said, lies in “waking up people’s souls” and “drawing information from Great Nature.”' - Review of the recently translated novel Frontier, in The New Yorker.


"With more than two decades of consistently brilliant literary output behind her, Can Xue has proven that her writing is not a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon, as some skeptical critics may have doubted in the 1980s, but the expression of a profoundly creative literary talent. Were it not for the protocols of translation and culturalism that filter the reception and recognition of Chinese literature, it would be simply impossible to imagine that work by an author of this caliber —we consider her to be, frankly, without peer— could remain relatively unknown to global readers of world literature in English. Yet precisely because Can Xue’s work is so utterly innovative, it is relatively difficult for her work to acquire recognition within the constricting boundaries and expectations placed upon literature emanating from China." - Jon Solomon in the comprehensive MIT website devoted to Can Xue


An Interview + "A Short Piece on Experimental Fiction" by Can Xue (a super brief manifesto) in Bomb magazine

A Special Kind of Performance: Can Xue On The Course Of A Chinese Writer (in Electric Literature)

Short stories online:

"Crow Mountain" (in the Asymptote journal)

"Red Leaves" (in Belletrista)

"Our Human Neighbors" (in Conjunctions)

"Euphoria" (in Conjunctions)


"The Castle’s Origin" (in Conjunctions) - a piece on Kafka

Title is quote from Cam Xue's "Literature Needs to Bring about Another Copernican Revolution" (opens PDF)
posted by TheGoodBlood (6 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
The short stories of Can Xue are fabulous. And I've got Frontier on my shelf, waiting noisily to be read. I had an interesting conversation with a Chinese science fiction editor and scholar at the Helsinki Worldcon this year. After we'd been talking for a while I asked what the Chinese SF community thought of Can Xue. The editor said that it was funny, in China she was never discussed in terms of being an SF writer, but that he kept getting asked about her when he was abroad. He said that he had been thinking of writing an essay appraising her works in terms of their sciencefictionality. Though the genre boundaries are drawn very differently in Chinese SF than in the Anglophone tradition.
posted by Kattullus at 2:08 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]

Can Xue is *kisses fingertips*.
Thank you for posting.
posted by sutureselves at 2:21 PM on November 12

"Residual Snow". Damn, that's a beautiful reference for a pseudonym.

I'm excited to dig into the stories, the linked piece of criticism is lovely, though leaving an impression of its flow being somewhat diminished in translation, judging by the way it lays out its reading.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:46 PM on November 12

Just requested this to be added to my local library.
posted by k5.user at 8:37 AM on November 13

We recently had Can Xue read in our space and uploaded the video of her reading with Porochista Khakpour. Open Letter is going to publish her most experimental book next year with an intro by Porochista. Can Xue's presentation is an intense lecture about modernism and Chinese literature and it's hard to express how strange and inspiring it was to see her read--it was as though Nijinsky or William Blake had wandered in. Anyways, hope you enjoy the video...
posted by johnasdf at 4:24 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]

Her writing is brilliant - thank you thank you thank you for sharing something so inspiring and liminal right at a moment I desperately needed something I didn't know I so desperately needed.
posted by kokaku at 7:16 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]

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