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January 2022: Xue Mo 雪漠

Xue Mo, the pen-name of Chen Kaihong, was born in Liangzhou, Gansu province. A renowned cultural scholar and author, his writing is deeply influenced by his native roots in western China, and combines hallucinatory realism with the depiction of the reality of rural life in China. He employs a variety of literary forms including novels, poems, and philosophical essays, and his work has investigated the themes of love, freedom, life and death, and humans’ relationship with nature. He has been nominated three times for the Mao Dun Literature Prize, and won other prizes, including the Dunhuang Literature and Art Award six times in succession. His works available in English are: Desert Rites, Desert Hunters (translated by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin), Curses of Xixia Dynasty, The Holy Monk and the Spirit Woman, The World is A Reflection of the Mind, The Essence of Mahamudra, and Love letters From the Goddess. 

This month we feature the story 'The Crunching Of Broad Beans At Dead Of Night', translated by Nicky Harman. In this story, when Snow comes down from the mountains to visit her uncle’s family, she discovers her aunt has found a way to survive the recent famine. You can read the original Chinese here, and Nicky's English translation here.

The story and translation are taken from The Selected Stories of Xue Mo, translated by Nicky Harman. This is a collection of stories set on the Silk Road, exploring love, faith, life, and death. The first three stories depict the lives and relationships of outsiders in rural villages, and offer a contemporary perspective on the impact of rumor, pain, and suffering. The final novella is a survival story of two young women journeying through the desert, accompanied by camels and dholes.

And you can find out more about Xue Mo on Paper Republic here.

We're also excited that this book is going to feature on our Book Review Network in audiobook form! The audiobook is a collaboration between Beijing Ruxue Media and Sodalite Productons, and is narrated by Sarah Lam, who has also starred in BBC Radio 4's adaptation of Qiu Xiaolong's Inspector Chen Mysteries. Keep an eye out for reviews coming soon!