cover image Rouge Street

Rouge Street

Shuang Xuetao, trans. from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang. Metropolitan, $26.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-250-83587-1

Shuang makes his English-language debut with three beautifully spare novellas exploring present day northeast China and the imprints of the past. In “The Aeronaut,” Li Mingqi arrives at his deceased father’s alcoholic mentor’s home in 1979 to court the man’s daughter. In an alternating thread set decades later, Mingqi’s nephew tracks him down after he disappears in pursuit of an aviation obsession. In “Bright Hall,” Zhang Mo’s unemployed father sends him to live with his aunt Zhang Yafeng, a former dancer. After the murder of Pastor Lin, a grieving Yafeng sends her own daughter away with Mo, and their journey takes on fairy tale dimensions. “Moses on the Plain” loosely follows an investigation into several carjacking murders, and Shuang shifts perspectives between various people connected to the events, including a policeman who is injured in a sting operation; new investigating officer Zhuang Shu, who has a speckled past; and Li Fei, a precocious girl tutored by Shu’s mom. Shuang sustains a cool, placid tone, even when reckoning with lingering traumas of the Cultural Revolution, Japanese occupation, and economic decline. Anglophone readers will be glad to get to know this rising star. (Apr.)