Can Xue is an avant- grade writer, her fiction is often characterised as difficult as her books hardly follows a plot but focuses deeply on characters. She herself mentioned in an interview that her fiction is not for everyone. Can Xue’s interconnected love stories traces love’s many guises against a kaleidoscopic backdrop of commerce and industry, fraud and exploitation, and sex and romance drawn from the East to West.
Personally I’m always looking for experimantal writing, writing not following any standard set of norms or doing it’s own things and I think I have now found an incredible writer.
Yes it’s totally true there’s hardly any plot in this novel, the plot is circling back and forth whether between time, reality, dreams, magic etc.
For me reading this book there was a dreamlike quality to it because I knew what I was going for which not neorealist at all. It took me around 20 pages to get her writing and then instantly it grew like a pulse, it was rhythmic, beautiful and I enjoyed it more and more.
What blew me away was that there were around 8 main characters and through every 11 chapters, the reader gets to know them so deeply and psychologically through their past and present choices and what future awaits for them. This is an incredible feat of writing.
One theme that striked me most other than love which I’ll get to in the end was that almost every character in the novel was concerned about their ancestries. Some visit their ancestral homes, some wishes to visit, some can’t remember and are finding connections to their ancestry.
Love without any doubt is the central theme running all the way through the book. Characters are held back by love, driven back or forward by love and are sometimes searching for unification through love and it is done in such a nuanced way.
This piece of fiction is truly anything I’ve come across, it’s just so imaginative way of telling story. I can’t wait to read more of her work .
Love in the new millennium – Can Xue. Translated from the Chinese by Annalise Finegan Wasoen , Published by Yale university press. Thank you so much Yale university press for sending the physical copy of this extraordinary book.