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Can Xue is the only woman associated with the male-dominated avant-garde school that emerged in China around 1985 and includes such authors as Mo Yan, Yu Hua, and Su Tong. Born in Changsha in 1953, Can Xue suffered when her parents were condemned as ultra-rightists in 1957. Through the Cultural Revolution period, she was raised by her grandmother and was often on the brink of starvation. Can Xue's formal education ceased after just completing primary school. Formerly a tailor by trade, Can Xue only began to write fiction seriously in 1983. A prolific writer of short stories, novellas, novels, and critical commentaries, Can Xue's first Chinese work was published in 1985. The English version of Dialogues in Paradise (Tiantangli de duihua), translated by Ronald R. Janssen and Jian Zhang, appeared in 1989, followed by Old Floating Cloud (Canglao de fuyun) in 1991 and The Embroidered Shoes (Xiuhua xie) in 1997.
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