Five Spice Street by Can XueFive Spice Street by Can Xue

Five Spice Street

byCan XueTranslated byKaren Gernant, Zeping Chen

Paperback | April 24, 2012

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 83 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Five Spice Street tells the story of a street in an unnamed city whose inhabitants speculate on the life of a mysterious Madam X. The novel interweaves their endless suppositions into a work that is at once political parable and surreal fantasia. Some think X is 50 years old; others that she is 22. Some believe she has occult powers and has thereby enslaved the young men of the street; others think she is a clever trickster playing mind games with the common people. Who is Madam X? How has she brought the good people of Five Spice Street to their knees either in worship or in exasperation? The unknown narrator takes no sides in the endless interplay of visions, arguments, and opinions. The investigation rages, as the street becomes a Walpurgisnacht of speculations, fantasies, and prejudices. Madam X is a vehicle whereby the people bare their souls, through whom they reveal themselves even as they try to penetrate the mystery of her extraordinary powers.

Five Spice Street is one of the most astonishing novels of the past twenty years. Exploring the collective consciousness of this little street of ordinary people, Can Xue penetrates the deepest existential anxieties of the present day-whether in China or in the West-where the inevitable impermanence of identity struggles with the narrative within which identity must compose itself.

Can Xue is the pseudonym of Deng Xiaohua, author of many novels and short works of fiction in Chinese. She lives in Beijing.
Title:Five Spice StreetFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 7.08 × 4.75 × 1 inPublished:April 24, 2012Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300167962

ISBN - 13:9780300167962

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different About invented truth, gossip and perceptions regarding a certain Madame X. / A book that confirms how sidewalks talk... Knowing everything about everyone, and so little about oneself. / #plumreview #mybooknightstands by @love.leelee
Date published: 2017-12-27

Editorial Reviews

“There’s no other writer in China like Can Xue . . . strange, surreal, and very compelling . . . [and] this novel is probably the best place to start.”—Chad Post, Publishers Weekly