Daily Drip

Author Can Xue Misses Out on Nobel Prize, But Reaches New Audiences at Home


Avant-garde Chinese novelist Can Xue may have missed out on the two Nobel Prizes for Literature announced by the Swedish Academy yesterday, but the buzz around her potentially being in the running for one of the most famous prizes in writing this past week has seen prices of her books rocket.

There has been a wave of new interest in her work since a number of bookmakers placed her as fourth favorite for the award. The two prizes ultimately went to controversial Austrian author Peter Handke and Polish novelist and activist Olga Tokarczuk. Yet on Kindle and Chinese ecommerce sites, some of Can’s works have doubled and almost tripled in price following the Nobel hype and an apparent endorsement by Susan Sontag.


Can Xue’s “Love in the New Millennium” Nominated for 2019 Man Booker International Prize

Deng Xiaohua, the author behind the Can Xue pseudonym, was born in Changsha, in China’s southern province of Hunan. Her father, the one-time editor-in-chief of a prominent newspaper in the province, was labelled an “Ultra-Rightist” in the late 1950s along with other intellectuals of the period, and was sent to the countryside for two years for allegedly leading an anti-Communist group at the paper.

Her work is renowned in certain literature circles for its experimental, often abstract style, but until this week she remained largely unknown in her home country. As her name became a hot topic online, many users on platforms such as microblogging site Weibo admitted to not having heard of her before.

Can, for her part, told Pear Video in the build up to the Nobel announcement, “I have little chance of being awarded the prize, I just want to peacefully write my works.”

Cover photo: 中国作家网

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of RADII and Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for the Associated Press, The Wire, the Financial Times and more.
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