Magazine article World Literature Today

Vertical Motion

Magazine article World Literature Today

Vertical Motion

Article excerpt

Can Xue. Vertical Motion. Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping, tr. Rochester, New York. Open Letter. 2011. isbn 9781934824375

In just a few short years, Open Letter Books, based out of the University of Rochester, has quite impressively staked a claim of literary territory. Not unlike New Directions, Open Letter has made its reputation by finding and publishing some of the best foreign-language writers in the world. Can Xue, the pseudonym of Deng Xiaohua, is the latest writer to contribute to Open Letter's quick ascension.

In her collection Vertical Motion, Can Xue establishes a trippy and surreal world: apartments float high in the air, and large owls and men with lacquer-black skin haunt troubled people. There's a common thread between Can Xue and Japanese writer Haruki Murakami in that both writers use the surreal to expound the oddness of human experiences; but where Murakami's is a kind of hipster existentialism, Can Xue roots her existentialism in folklore. In many ways, Can Xue's place is between Isaac Bashevis Singer and Franz Kafka.

For instance, in "Red Leaves," a story about death and memory, an old man wanders the hallways of a hospital with an old friend, searching for the source of a meowing sound that's been pestering him. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.