In stories that are indescribable Can Xue marks out a territory that is singular. I read the first story, for which the collection is named, and felt as though it were crawling inside my skin. The words that get used in reviews are so worn out that when a writer like her comes along you have to shake them up and wake them up and remind yourself that calling a writer unique should be a rare thing, calling a writer phenomenal should mean that you get goosebumps when you read. Her fiction is like this. It is difficult to speak of them in normal terms – she makes ideas like plot, character, logic, all irrelevant. Of course her stories each have a plot but how do you talk about them? One feeling transforms into its opposite, a landscape that appears familiar becomes suddenly supernatural, people behave oddly but in a way that appeals to the instinct. Meaning grows so large in these stories that it defies statement. I am grateful to have encountered these (intense, unprecedented, fantastic, unbelievable) stories. Kafka meets Flannery O’Connor while Borges sits on the sidelines. And that description is only a sketch.