What do we think we desire? What do we truly desire? These are the two competing forces underlying Xu Xi's latest fiction collection Access. These thirteen tales are at once acerbic and heartbreaking, directing our gaze at the incongruities of human relations and the persistence of wounds our hearts cannot heal. Those in the multi culti world of these fictions seek answers to questions they have yet to learn to ask. But every so often they glimpse an entry point, and these sightings offer reason to hope, even if access will again be denied, as it inevitably is, for those whose desires strain towards perfection in our highly imperfect world.
"This is a collection of tales with hints of Chaucer, ranging from the world of privilege to office workers and massage girls; from heavily ironic vignettes on the corporate world to edgy stories of broken lives and selfish times. What is remarkable is that there is no irritable reaching after pathos, just sharp interior monologues combined with translucent prose like thin ice, cutting in and out of frame through private feelings and public narratives. Xu Xi is a rare writer whose perspectives can shift effortlessly between personal pronouns, gender and impersonal sex. The access code to this grammar is to glean the shadow of loss lying between language and the loneliness of existence."
- Brian Castro, author of The Bath Fugues, The Garden Book, and Shanghai Dancing
"Xu Xi has a sharp ear. The dominant voices in her latest collection of short stories belong to the bold and elegant Chinese women, the high achievers, losers, dreamers, and dancers with families and lovers, who are separated by continents and cultures. Their stories, unsentimentally told, are a stimulating read."
- Suchen Christine Lim, author of A Bit of Earth, Fistful of Colours, and Rice Bowl
This interview ranges far and wide across how Access came together, short stories Vs novels, how writers are taught to read like a writer, the joys of teaching and even the comparitive values of paper publications and electronic formats.
It's been a delight catching up with Xu Xi again, she's fantastic to talk to.
I truly hope you enjoy listening to this!
You can find out more about Xu Xi at her website: