Alta's Reviews > Vertical Motion

Vertical Motion by Can Xue
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May 17, 12


I had read Five Spice Street—one of the most original novels I’ve ever come across—by Can Xue, so I knew what to expect when I opened Vertical Motion. The latter is a rather eclectic collection, from the title story, written in a dry, impersonal tone, in the voice of a “little critter” that lives deep under the earth, to more emotionally-colored stories, such as “Cotton Candy,” in which a child, fascinated with a cotton-candy machine, daydreams about being a vendor.

This collection, although less captivating than Five Spice Street, confirmed my impression that Can Xue is one of the most interesting contemporary world writers. Several months later, the power of her novel is undiminished: I am still thinking about it, in spite of a less-than-average translation (which makes it all the more impressive). Surprisingly, Vertical Motion, which has been translated by the same team, is quite a good translation. I am not sure how to explain this: a better editor, more revisions, or simply the fact that the translators are now more experienced?
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