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Can Xue


Bradford Morrow

Can Xue is one of the most innovative and important contemporary writers in China, and in my opinion, in world literature. I am not alone in this thought. Susan Sontag once told me that if China had one possibility for a Nobel laureate it was Can Xue. Robert Coover considers her to be without any doubt the most important avant-garde Chinese writer. I have published Can Xue's work often in the literary journal which I edit, Conjunctions, and never fail to receive responses from readers across the United States who find her fictions to resonate with intelligence, audacity, and above all, if you will allow me to say so, a sense of genius. Her first book, Dialogues in Paradise, carved a new form of short fictional narrative, even as it broke rules of normative fiction. The early stories in the book, such as "Soap Bubbles in the Dirty Water" and "The Ox," were to me when I first read them as revelatory and exciting as when I first read Borges and Lorca. When I encountered the title novella I realized that I was in the presence of a writer who could infiltrate the deepest part of our human experience with such subtlety and totality that it took my breath away. The only collection I can think of that is comparable to Can Xue's Dialogues in Paradise is the Jamaica Kincaid's wonderful first book, At the Bottom of the River. Both books have a quasi-visionary component, and both explore everyday life at the same time as they investigate the mysteries of the spirit. I believe that Can Xue has the ability to go far beyond most writers in probing the full spectrum of human adventure.

Her next book, Old Floating Cloud, a collection of novellas, and her next book after that, The Embroidered Shoes, only confirm for me my first impression and my only impression and conviction, that Can Xue is a writer of the first rank. As one who has spent the last twenty-five years seeking out and publishing the most important writers of our day I can say with no hesitation that it has been an honor and a privilege to publish the work of Can Xue.