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Rouge Street: Three Novellas

by Shaun Xuetao
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 neighborhood of a postindustrial 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 humor.
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 Fiction + Short Stories
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Published April 2022

Metropolitan Books

Hardcover, 240 pages

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"Rouge Street gives voice to an intriguing cast of characters left behind by China’s economic miracle . . . Shuang pulls no punches . . . From start to finish, his scope is close to the ground, his language sparingly emotive and unobtrusive. He never flinches. As a result, we don’t look away either."
Jing Tsu, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)