An Empty Room: Book summary and reviews of An Empty Room by Mu Xin

An Empty Room

Stories

by Mu Xin

An Empty Room by Mu Xin
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  • Published in USA  May 2011
    192 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

A dazzling cycle of short stories by one of China's most revered contemporary writers and one of the world’s leading artist-intellectuals.

An Empty Room is the first book by the celebrated Chinese writer Mu Xin to appear in English. A cycle of thirteen tenderly evocative stories written while Mu Xin was living in exile, this collection is reminiscent of the structural beauty of Hemingway's In Our Time and the imaginistic power of Kawabata's palm-of-the-hand stories. From the ordinary (a bus accident) to the unusual (Buddhist halos) to the wise (Goethe, Lao Zi), Mu Xin's wandering "I" interweaves plots with philosophical grace and spiritual profundity. A small blue bowl becomes a symbol of vanishing childhood; a painter in a race against fading memory scribbles notes in an underground prison during the Cultural Revolution; an abandoned temple room holds a dark mystery. An Empty Room is a soul-stirring page turner, a Sebaldian reverie of passing time, loss, and humanity regained.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. These stories have an exquisite, crystalline quality ably captured by Liu's flawless translation." - Publishers Weekly

"Mu Xin's elegant, noble prose style is rooted in the Chinese literati tradition and has rejuvenated the Chinese language for our times." - Beijing Daily

"Mu Xin is best known as a writer and not a painter. He sustains the Chinese mode of returning to the art of the past and refreshing it for the present. He came to the United States in 1982, has written a dozen books here, and is a literary cult figure in Taiwan and among intellectuals in the Chinese diaspora." - The New York Times

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Mu Xin, born in 1927 in China, is among the last of his generation to receive a classical education. During the Cultural Revolution he was imprisoned for eighteen months and then lived under house arrest for several years. In 1982 he moved to the U.S., where he lived in Queens, New York, and only recently moved back to his hometown in China. He is the author of several collections of stories, poetry, and essays, as well as being a world-renowned painter.

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