Curses of the Kingdom of Xixia

By Xue Mo
Translated by Fan Pen Li Chen

Subjects: Fiction, Chinese Studies, Asian Studies, Chinese Religion And Philosophy
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438494944, 710 pages, November 2023

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Table of contents

Translator’s Introduction

1. Origins of this Book

2. The Iron Hawks of Xixia

3. The Barbarian Hag

4. Stealing Crops

5. The Technique of Execution in Nightmares

6. Origin of the Flying Thief

7. The Old Mountain Beyond the Horizon

8. The Angry Ravens

9. The Monk Who Went on a Pilgrimage

10. The Black Dragon Demons

11. The Crunching of Fava Beans in the Dead of Night

12. The Crime

13. The “Buddhist Head Shaving Ritual” in Nightmares

14. Monk Wu’s Sheep Hearts

15. The Captured Flying Thief

16. The Dharma-Protecting Divine Bullock

17. The “Gonpo” in Nightmares

18. The Old Mountain

19. The “Nirvana” of Nightmares

20. The Pilgrimage

21. Chicken Feather Notices

22. The Vanished Water of Xixia

23. The Broken Shoes on the Monastery Gate

24. The Wooden Donkeys of Diamond Clan

25. The Butcher’s Heart

26. The Fifth “Nightmare”: The Curse of Ajia

27. Another Way Snow Feather or Her Mother Died

28. The Leather for Ritual Implements

29. The Monk Who Broke His Vow

30. Cave of the Red Bats

31. Cripple Big Walking the Leather

32. The Sunshine of Early Winter

33. The Bodhisattva

34. Issuer of the Curse

35. Searching for One’s Origin, or a Prophecy

36. The Destined Illusory Bliss

37. The Soul’s Progress

38. A Ritual from Antiquity

39. Coda

Postface: “Shattering” and “Transcendence”

Reality merges with illusion in this novel of northwestern China.


Finalist for the 2023 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the Multicultural Fiction category

Xue Mo's novel Curses of the Kingdom of Xixia presents a rich tapestry of the history, religion, lore, and customs of a region in present-day northwestern China. During its heyday, the Sino-Tibetan kingdom of Xixia (pronounced see-sia; 1038–1227), also known as the Tanguts, rivaled the Song dynasty (960–1279) of China and boasted a cavalry so formidable that the Chinese paid tribute to it to maintain peace. Using the discovery of "lost" manuscripts as a frame, the novel presents historical events and tales of semifictional characters, including the avatar of a local Tantric Buddhist goddess, a Dakini/Vajrayogini named Snow Feather. Taking the readers through different historical times and the various geographical and cultural spaces of the region, Xue Mo reveals truths by blurring the distinction between good and evil, beauty and hideousness, reality and fiction, permanence and impermanence. Magical realism and mimesis coexist. Reality merges with illusion, the mundane with the supernatural.

Xue Mo, the pen name of Chen Kaihong, was born in Liangzhou, Gansu province. The author of many works of fiction, poetry, and prose, he is a six-time winner of the Dunhuang Literature and Art Award and has been nominated three times for the Mao Dun Literature Prize. Fan Pen Li Chen is Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is the author of Chinese Shadow Theatre: History, Popular Religion, and Women Warriors. Her previous translations include Journey of a Goddess: Chen Jinggu Subdues the Snake Demon and Marionette Plays from Northern China, both also published by SUNY Press.