Xu Xu's 'Bird Talk and Other Stories' now available
Updated: Jun 8
Bird Talk and Other Stories, our long-awaited collection of short fiction by Chinese author Xu Xu, is now available from book sellers worldwide.
Translator Frederik H. Green, associate professor of Chinese at San Francisco State University notes the curious timing of the publication, observing that “Xu Xu’s biggest literary success, his wartime spy novel The Rustling Wind 風蕭蕭, was published amid the chaos of World War II. What a strange coincidence that his English-language debut should occur amidst a global pandemic.”
Xu Xu (1908–1980) was one of the most widely read Chinese authors of the 1930s to 1960s. His popular urban gothic tales, his exotic spy fiction, and his quasi-existentialist love stories full of nostalgia and melancholy offer today’s readers an unusual glimpse into China’s turbulent twentieth century.
The stories in Bird Talk span a period of some thirty years, from 1937 until 1965 and bring to life some of the author’s most representative short works from prewar Shanghai and postwar Hong Kong and Taiwan.
And they are a delight to read. Xu Xu’s prose, fast-paced and laced with humor, hints of magic, and philosophizing characters full of grand observations on life and humanity, is warmhearted and utterly accessible. Readers are often left wondering—what’s going to happen here?—until the very end. Prof. Green’s Introduction and Afterword offer keys to understanding Xu Xu’s work by examining his life and by exploring how his themes and explorations share features of European romanticism and a global modernist spirit.
In her review in the South China Morning Post Ysabelle Cheung says of the story “When Ah Heung Came to Gousing Road”: "Written in a witty, light-hearted tone, the story highlights how Hong Kong was romanticised as a city of new beginnings and businesses--a place where diligence, hard work and integrity could pay off. This is where many like Xu Xu, sick with longing and trauma and facing a harsh new world, could begin to heal themselves."
Xu Xu’s work will reveal to the reader a Chinese literature filled with heart and humor that also provided hope and comfort. Unable to remain in China after 1950, this explorer of art and love found a new home in the city of Hong Kong where his stories were avidly read and frequently turned into popular movies.
Get your copy of Bird Talk and Other Stories here.