cover image Frontier


Can Xue. Open Letter, $16.96 trade paper (361p) ISBN 978-1-940953-54-0

Can Xue, a leading Chinese experimental writer, focuses on the residents of a surreal small town at the base of a mountain. The facts of the narrative are simple, but the themes of the story are complex and difficult questions. Each chapter focuses on the life of an individual resident of Pebble Town, exploring the ways that odd happenings in the liminal town bleed into the inhabitants’ fluid identities. Through the hazy events of the citizens’ daily lives, the narrative explores concepts of time, growth, nature, and the divine. Can Xue’s deep, beautiful prose allows two methods of reading. Endless references to birds, flora, and dreamlike days provide plenty of metaphors and motifs to grapple with for close readings. Without the labor of critical reading, the surface-level narrative may be difficult to follow. Even if the actual events can be hard to parse, Can Xue’s powerful imagery will flood the senses and immerse readers in this magical world. Can Xue’s novel is a sensual delight and challenging glimpse into the nature of the human condition. (Mar.)