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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. At the forefront of China's new literary trends, these two novellas--"Yellow Mud Street" and "Old Floating Cloud"--explore Chinese reality through images of the absurd, sudden and illogical juxtapositions, and the limitless transformations induced by a unique imagination.
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Chinese
Partly to avoid condemnation by the Chinese government and partly in reaction to the social realism of Mao Zedong's regime, Can Xue (Dialogues in Paradise ) has fashioned two stubbornly obscure novellas about contemporary China that veil political and social commentary in symbolic, psychotic grotesquerie. But these overlong anti-narratives will test the limits of readers' patience. In ``Yellow Mud Street,'' Can Xue follows the lives of the inhabitants of an otherworldly neighborhood where black ash ``pours down from the sky like garbage'' and excrement spills from dilapidated latrines; people's bodies stink of sweat, they are in constant fear of government censure and they work at the ``S'' factory producing steel balls for no ostensible purpose. Their one hope is the coming of Wang Zi-guang, a spirit who possibly possesses the truth that will set free their wretched lives. The characters in the title novella live in similarly repulsive circumstances, yet Can Xue concentrates more on warped relationships: parents and children harbor murderous feelings for each other, in-laws butt in where they are not welcome and everyone is always spying on everyone else.
Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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