“Beauty transcends language; art crosses borders. True ‘fashion,’ in my view, must be ‘mixed-blooded.’ Literature and culture require a fusion, with Eastern and Western elements colliding and resonating with each other, sparking dazzling brilliance.” ——Xue Mo
The 40th Miami Book Fair, held at Miami Dade College, was a vibrant convergence of literary and cultural exchange. This year’s fair drew world-renowned authors, popular influencers, and literary celebrities. As the sole Asian author invited, Xue Mo, donned in a striking Chinese-red attire, brought a unique vibrancy to this dynamic book market.
Xue Mo’s latest English works, “Curses of the Kingdom of Xixia” and “Into the Desert,” became the belle of the fair, captivating many American readers and overseas Chinese fans. Attendees eagerly engaged with his books, taking photos as mementos. The book signing events offered a rare chance for intimate interactions with Xue Mo. Notably, his branded artistic bags, admired for their unique design, became a favorite among local American visitors, despite their unfamiliarity with Chinese calligraphy.
In an interview, Xue Mo shared his profound insights on art and cultural exchange, emphasizing that beauty transcends language barriers and art knows no borders. Fashion, he claimed, emerges in the interplay between East and West, blending tradition with modernity:
“True ‘fashion,’ in my view, must be ‘mixed-blooded.’ Literature and culture require a fusion, with Eastern and Western elements colliding and resonating with each other, sparking dazzling brilliance. For Eastern culture to break new ground, cognition and aesthetics must lead the way. Artistic creation demands a synthesis of East and West, utilizing the ancient for the present, where the artist and audience spark together, opening the door to the world and offering humanity more diverse perspectives and richer experiences.”
Hailing from Northwest China, novelist Xue Mo is well-recognized for his deep cultural understanding and extensive creative background. His many novels, marked by unique spirituality and vivid imagination, bring to life a range of characters that immerse readers in the authentic experiences of rural Western China. Xue Mo’s writing captures the everyday life of Chinese farmers, faithfully portraying their joy and sorrow. These stories vividly depict the struggles, love, death, and faith of the impoverished in their quest for hope and eternity.
Xue Mo has been nominated three times for China’s prestigious Mao Dun Literature Prize. His literary works, including “Desert Rites,” “Desert Hunters,” and “White Tiger Pass,” have garnered global acclaim. His epic “Suosalang: The Ultimate Book,” spanning eighty thousand lines and one million Chinese characters, fills a significant gap in Han Chinese epic poetry. Critics have lauded it as a masterpiece, comparable to world’s literary giants such as “The Lord of the Rings” and “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
The English version of “Curses of the Kingdom of Xixia,” translated by Professor Fan Pen Li Chen from the State University of New York, was recently released by Excelsior Editions. This enchanting novel, framed around the discovery of “lost” manuscripts, revisits historical events and tales of semi-fictional characters from the ancient Kingdom of Xixia, including the avatar of a Tantric Buddhist goddess, Snow Feather. Xue Mo guides readers through different historical periods and diverse geographical and cultural landscapes, blurring the lines between good and evil, beauty and ugliness, reality and fiction, permanence and impermanence, artistically revealing the unchanging truth of this ever-changing world.
During the fair, the English edition of “Curses of the Kingdom of Xixia” unexpectedly became a bestseller. In an interview, Xue Mo reflected, “We initially thought American readers might lack patience for full-length novels, so we primarily promoted two shorter stories: ‘Into the Desert’ and ‘The Women and the Dholes’ However, the first day’s sales data surprised us, with the dictionary-thick ‘Curses of the Kingdom of Xixia’ selling the most. This indicates that depth and quality are key; as long as the story is compelling, readers are willing to invest their time on it.”
“My observation is that Americans have a stronger propensity for book consumption than Europeans. Many European adults hesitate before expensive books, whereas American youth readily purchase books priced in the dozens of dollars, like buying a box of candy. Although Europeans might read more, the American consumption style suggests a deeper longing for a rich spiritual world.”
The adapted novella “Into the Desert,” from “Desert Rites” and “White Tiger Pass,” brimming with symbolism, tells the adventurous tale of two women, Lanlan and Ying’er, as they bravely venture into the desert seeking a new life. The contrasting personalities of the heroines reflect the complex emotions faced by individuals during life’s challenges. Their confrontations with desert beasts, including jackals, symbolize the inevitable trials and perils on their path to freedom. Xue Mo’s works not only enlighten a broad spectrum of readers but also inspire creativity and imagination globally.
“Although the sales revenue was less than $1000, every volunteer was thrilled. Because we are not just selling books, we are spreading love and wisdom worldwide,” shared Ida from Xue Mo’s overseas book promotion team. “Each sale is like planting a seed, touching a soul, influencing a life, creating a possibility, a chance to change a predestined path, enabling each individual to become the architect of their own world.”
Xue Mo’s attendance at the Miami Book Fair was not just a book tour; it was a testament to the global appeal of his works. His stories, steeped in the essence of Western Chinese literature, resonate with readers across different cultures. Reflecting on the last day of the fair, Xue Mo appreciated the opportunity the Miami Book Fair provided to share the unique flavor of Chinese literature with readers worldwide.
“The Miami Book Fair itself is a melting pot of ideas and stories. From January 12 to 19, it became a nexus for world literature and the intersection of Eastern and Western cultures, with hundreds of authors presenting in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. For me, it was an exceptional chance to showcase the depth and diversity of Chinese literature to a global audience.”
At the bustling fair, Xue Mo’s presence served as a reminder of the literary power that transcends borders and unites hearts. His works, bridging East and West, invite readers to traverse time and continents, to explore humanity, elevate cognition, and witness the empowering and transformative effects of love and wisdom on individual lives.