From the sensational Chinese author who has been called “a new world master,” a Kafkaesque novel set in a fictional Western nation
Winner of the 2015 Best Translated Book Award for fiction, presented by Three Percent, a resource for international literature
“[A] mind-bending novel. . . . Xue succeeds in creating a unique, immersive, tale of ‘intersecting dreamworlds.’”—Publishers Weekly
In Can Xue’s extraordinary book, we encounter a full assemblage of husbands, wives, and lovers. Entwined in complicated, often tortuous relationships, these characters step into each other’s fantasies, carrying on conversations that are “forever guessing games.” Their journeys reveal the deepest realms of human desire, figured in Can Xue’s vision of snakes and wasps, crows, cats, mice, earthquakes, and landslides. In dive bars and twisted city streets, on deserts and snowcapped mountains, the author creates an extreme world where every character “is driving death away with a singular performance.”
Who is the last lover? The novel is bursting with vividly drawn characters. Among them are Joe, sales manager of a clothing company in an unnamed Western country, and his wife, Maria, who conducts mystical experiments with the household’s cats and rosebushes. Joe’s customer Reagan is having an affair with Ida, a worker at his rubber plantation, while clothing-store owner Vincent runs away from his wife in pursuit of a woman in black who disappears over and over again. By the novel’s end, we have accompanied these characters on a long march, a naive, helpless, and forsaken search for love, because there are just some things that can’t be stopped—or helped.
Can Xue, pseudonym of Deng Xiaohua, is the author of many novels, volumes of literary criticism, and short works of fiction. Formerly a tailor, she began writing fiction in 1983. The Last Lover is her second novel to appear in English. She lives in Beijing. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, an editor and literary translator, is pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literature at Washington University, St. Louis.
“A maverick outsider, the Chinese writer Can Xue described herself in a recent interview as ‘an experimental novelist with a strongly philosophical temperament.’ True enough, but nothing in that bland label would prepare you for the mind-stretching enchantments of The Last Lover, one of the first of her large-scale works to appear in English. . . . Translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen with all the hallucinatory clarity that her prose demands, Can Xue guides us through that bewitching place.”—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
Book of the Year for 2014, chosen by The Independent
Winner of the 2015 Best Translated Book Award, fiction category, organized by Three Percent
Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015, given by Booktrust
Longlisted for the 2015 American Literary Translators Asssociation, National Translation Prize in Prose.
&ldquot;If China has one possibility of a Nobel laureate it is Can Xue.”—Susan Sontag
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