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Rouge Street

From one of the most highly celebrated young Chinese writers, three dazzling novellas of Northeast China, mixing realism, mysticism, and noir.

An inventor dreams of escaping his drab surroundings in a flying machine. A criminal, trapped beneath a frozen lake, fights a giant fish. A strange girl pledges to ignite a field of sorghum stalks.

Rouge Street presents three novellas by Shuang Xuetao, the lauded young Chinese writer whose frank, fantastical short fiction has already inspired comparisons to Ernest Hemingway and Haruki Murakami. Located in China’s frigid Northeast, Shenyang, the author’s birthplace, boasts an illustrious past—legend holds that the emperor’s makeup was manufactured here. But while the city enjoyed renewed importance as an industrial hub under Mao Zedong, China’s subsequent transition from communism to a market economy led to an array of social ills—unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce, suicide—that gritty Shenyang epitomizes.

Orbiting the toughest neighbourhood of a post-industrial city whose vast, inhospitable landscape makes every aspect of life a struggle, these many-voiced missives are united by Shuang Xuetao’s singular style—one that balances hardscrabble naturalism with the transcendent and faces the bleak environs with winning humour. Rouge Street illuminates not only the hidden pains of those left behind in an extraordinary economic boom but also the inspirations and grace they, nevertheless, manage to discover.

In association with Shanghai Translation Publishing House and Penglun at Archipel Press

 

Praise for ROUGE STREET:

“Shuang Xuetao is a magician, suffusing failed lives with redemption and even delight. These are families out of Greek tragedy, rich intergenerational dramas reminiscent of Bi Feiyu's Three Sisters, as evocative of a particular time and place in China, detailed and strange and heartbreaking. But above all the darkness is a lighter and more generous vision of people who can survive China's great changes and yet still forgive, invent, and sail off into futures you would never expect.”—David Vann, author of Halibut on the Moon, Aquarium and Caribou Island

“Brave and intelligent, the three novellas of Rouge Street give us an acerbic view of a chilly industrialized region, tempered by Shuang Xuetao’s inability to form a petty thought and his generous, frequently humorous embrace of ambiguity.”—Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut and Miss Aluminium

“Shuang Xuetao is the most distinctive young Chinese writer. With lyrical language and uncanny narration, he expresses the intense love that literature has for humanity—especially its lowest order. To read his writing is to have your heart pierced, as well as to experience the power of art, which can be a beam of light slicing through the darkness.”  —Yan Lianke, author of The Day the Sun Died

“Growing up amid the decay of China’s industrial base, Shuang Xuetao writes with a devastating sense of decline. His words may conform to conventional realism, yet they radiate a mysterious aura that cannot be dispelled.” —Yu Hua, author of To Live and Chronicle of a Blood Merchant

“What draws me to Shuang Xuetao's work is his superlative language. He favors short, playful sentences that contain a great deal of muscularity. His narratives unfold at a leisurely pace and have a down-to-earth quality, yet they remain powerful. This adds up to a singular mode of storytelling.” —Mo Yan, Nobel Prize-winning author of Red Sorghum

“We unanimously gave an exclamation for the author's adventurous spirit, thanking him for creating a literary magnetic field that offers us a new method to spin.” —Su Tong, author of Raise the Red Lantern and judge of the Blancpain-Imaginist Award

"An indelible introduction to Shuang’s work . . . lucidly translated by Jeremy Tiang. . . [Rouge Street] turns . . . from the powerfully realistic to the fantastical and surreal, in an existential theater reminiscent of Pirandello or Sartre . . . Shuang weaves with Dostoevskian skill the voices and experiences of the players in this drama . . . Through various monologues, the novella creates not just a suspenseful thriller, but a textured, rich portrait of a community over time." —Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine

"Remarkable . . . enigmatic  . . .The three novellas in Rouge Street, Shuang Xuetao's prodigious English-language debut, feature multilayered voices revealing intricate perspectives that result in gloriously gratifying rewards . . . His crisp, unadorned sentences might seem to contrast his fantastical twists and turns, but that irresistible combination is waiting to be discovered by lucky new audiences." —Terry Hong, Shelf Awareness

"Shuang makes his English-language debut with three beautifully spare novellas exploring present day northeast China and the imprints of the past . . . Shuang sustains a cool, placid tone, even when reckoning with lingering traumas . . . Readers will be glad to get to know this rising star." Publishers Weekly

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