Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Conversation With Qiu Xiaolong, Part 1

Qiu Xiaolong wrote one of the great novels of the past several years, Death of Red Heroine, which is an absolute masterpiece. This was the first Inspector Chen novel, and it introduced us to the Chinese police inspector with a penchant for poetry and Western fiction, including detective fiction, as well considerable skill at solving complex crimes. In fact, the author himself is an accomplished poet and translator of poetry, and his complete grasp of the most complex English, whether from T. S. Eliot or any other source, gives him a much heralded skill as a translator. Do not, however, worry that Qiu Xiaolong's novels are pedantic- their language is superlative without in any way being self-conscious, and they are filled with suspense, intrigue, puzzling clues and great mysteries.

Qiu used to teach Chinese literature at Washington University in St. Louis, but, at least for the moment, teaching has yielded to the busy travel schedule of a successful author. Sandwiched between Chinese New Year in London and a working visit to Hong Kong as a writer in residence, the author stopped by my local Barnes & Noble in St. Louis County, Missouri (at Ladue Crossing) for a book signing and discussion. There, I had a chance to catch up with him and listen to his presentation. I took the opportunity to pick up signed copies of his latest books, including Red Mandarin Dress: An Inspector Chen Novel, and have a number of questions answered.

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  1. Hi Jim - Thank you for stopping by my blog earlier. Sounds like this was such an interesting discussion with the author! I know I've had Death of a Red Heroine on my watch list for such a long time. Hopefully I will get to it this year. I selected as one of my challenge reads.

  2. Hi! I'm glad I did stop by your blog, iliana. I'll keep coming back and recommend it to all.

    This was really an enjoyable discussion with a delightful author. I do strongly recommend Death of a Red Heroine.

    Sorry your comment was slow to be approved, I've been out with the flu for a few days.

    Best wishes, Jim
    Also found at:

  3. I really enjoyed this detailed series of interviews!

  4. Thanks booking!

    I have probably one more installment to add, along with a review of A Case of Two Cities.

    I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment on the posts!

    Nearly nothing but novels
    Chemisty for a sustainable world