A writer in depth and style comparable to Franz Kafka, Can Xue was born in Hunan Province in 1953. Her father was lead editor of The Hunan Daily News, and her selections included here from The Embroidered Shoes, are dedicated to him. At the age of 13, Can was forced to leave school. During the Cultural Revolution, she worked as an iron worker for ten years. She later taught herself to sew and she and her husband became self-employed tailors. In 1983 she began writing. She is also the author of Dialogues in Paradise and Old Floating Cloud. She is an honorary member of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and lives in the People's Republic of China.


Can Xue


      Why didnít anybody at that kind of grand gather-
ing near the river notice that a person was about to disappear forever? I have heard that such occurrences happen very rarely, yet the relatives of the vanished person never search for long. They gather at the riverbank and call out loudly until exhausted and then return home the very next dawn. The second night, they call at the riverbank again. But the number shrinks sharply and only a few show up. After the third day, nobody goes back to the riverbank, but instead everybody discusses the odd event at home. By the turn of the new year, nobody raises the issue anymore, as if everybody had agreed beforehand to fall silent. The clothing of the vanished person would still be kept in the wardrobe. His bowl and chopsticks would still be placed on the table at mealtime. The family members would pretend that he still lived with them in the house.

Chapbook Selections:

The Little Gold Ox

Our Family Secrets


An Episode With No Foundation

Can Xue

Published by
Web Del Sol
with permission
from Henry Holt