Book Review: Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang Xuetao

April 28, 2022

About:

Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang Xuetao (translated by Jeremy Tiang) consists of three short stories all taken place on Yanfen(Rouge) Street. Shuang Xuetao is a young Chinese writer, winner of the Blossoms Literary Prize, the Wang Zengqi Short Story Prize, and the Blancpain-Imaginist Literary Prize for the best Chinese writer under forty-five.

  • 240 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : Metropolitan Books
  • Language ‏ : English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : 1250835879

Book Review: Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang XuetaoMy rating for Rouge Street4
Buy Rouge Street from Amazon.com*

More Books by Shuang Xuetao*
More Books Translated by Jeremy Tiang*

Thoughts:

I’m not a big fan of short stories, I like them but prefer longer ones. I enjoyed Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang Xuetao, three stories with loose connections which are all set in the same street. The three stories are very different from one another, but they are all set in the industrial city of Shenyang.

The stories are bleak and very reminiscent of the stories taking place in Communist Russia – snow, poverty, alcoholism, dead-end jobs, but a strong sense of family and community, mostly because there’s no other choice.

Every street has its own unique atmosphere which tells of its occupants. Yanfen is a street of lost souls, but also pure souls. Where there’s mold in the walls, thieves in gardens, the righteous and treacherous living alongside one another.

The stories tell of those living on the edges of society, one which is in further decline since Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The stories are complex, with many hidden layers among them. I can only imagine there are some things that were lost in translation, not because of Jeremy Tiang’s excellent work, but because the stories seem to be extremely cultural with winks to those who grew up in similar circumstances, or those lost to Western eyes.

The stories seem to be told in a dreamlike state, where time and space often shift. The melancholy, despair, and betrayal of family and dreams alike pour out of the stories.

Synopsis:

The Aeronaut – tells of the soul-crushing existence of two working-class families, whose son and daughter are married. The aeronaut has a dream of inventing a flying machine and escaping their grey existence.

Bright Hall – two teenage boys are abandoned by their parents, and are connected by a brutal crime. The boys eventually find themselves at the bottom of a frozen lake interrogated by a man (or is it fish?).

Moses on the Plain – a police procedural/detective story told from several perspectives, spanning several years.

Buy Rouge Street from Amazon.com*
More Books by Shuang Xuetao*
More Books Translated by Jeremy Tiang*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

 

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Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang Xuetao
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Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang Xuetao

Wrap Up

Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang Xuetao

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