Mystery Train - Can Xue

Sublunary Editions


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Mystery Train by Can Xue, translated by Natascha Bruce / small 176-page paperback, 5 x 7 inches / ISBN 9781955190404 / published by Sublunary Editions


A chicken-farm employee named Scratch, sent by his manager to buy feed, has boarded the right train. Hasn't he? So what if the destination on the ticket is wrong, or if he's locked in his compartment, or if the lights are off and it's suddenly freezing cold? And surely the whispers of a pending accident are referring to some other event, long in the past. Right? Part allegory, part fever dream, Mystery Train leads the reader on an unsettling journey into a dark wilderness thick with intrigue, mysterious women… and wolves.

Can Xue is the pen name of Deng Xiaohua, a writer born in 1953 in Changsha, Hunan Province, China. Her work is known for being allegorical and stylistically unique, combining as it does Chinese and western elements, and it spans novels, novellas, short stories, literary criticism, philosophical treatises, and essays. Her novels translated into English include The Last Lover (translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen), which won 2015 Best Translated Book Award; Frontier (translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping); and Love in the New Millenium (translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen), which was longlisted for the 2019 Booker International Prize.

Natascha Bruce translates fiction from Chinese. Her work includes Lonely Face by Yeng Pway Ngon, Bloodline by Patigül, Lake Like a Mirror by Ho Sok Fong, and, with Nicky Harman, A Classic Tragedy by Xu Xiaobin. Her forthcoming translation of Owlish by Dorothy Tse received a 2021 PEN/Heim grant. She lives in Amsterdam.

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