Can Xue (1953- , real name Deng Xiaohua) is frequently cited as one
of the representative authors of China's avant-garde movement in late
80's and early 90's, as well as one of contemporary China's most
significant women writers. In 1957, her father was branded an
Ultra-Rightist, expelled from his job as editor at the New Hunan
Daily News and sent to a labor camp; her mother was sent down to the
countryside as well, and took their daughter with her. A committed
autodidact, Can Xue loved to read Western literature in translation
and was particularly influenced by the work of Kafka, Borges and Italo
Calvino. She began publishing short stories and criticism in the
1980's, and immediately established herself as a unique literary
A committed experimentalist, Can Xue has been said to have taken
avant-gardism in literature as far as it can go. Her highly imagistic,
stream-of-consciousness narrative style skips between subjects
(personal and impersonal) and often plays with perspective and time
sequence. One observes a palpable fascination with the grotesque, the
nightmarish and the brutal. A landmark name, her two most famous
stories, Old Floating Cloud and The Hut on the Mountain
are frequently anthologized. Can Xue's novel Five Spice Street
was published by Yale University Press in 2009, and her most recent
work, Border, came out in China in late 2010.
She's interviewed by Laura McCandlish here, and there are a few selections in English on WebDelSol here.
MIT has an extensive mini-website devoted to Can Xue and her works.