How to pronounce Qiu Xiaolong: chew-shao-long
Qiu Xiaolong was born and raised in Shanghai. He managed to avoid the worst of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution
by falling ill with bronchitis at the age of 16, so he was able to stay in the
city, while his peers left to be "re-educated" in the countryside. One day
while sitting on a bench in Shanghai's Bund he noticed some people studying
an English book, that was the start of an interest that grew into an
academic specialty in modernist poetry.
He came to the US in 1988, at the age of about 30, on a Ford Foundation grant. He chose to study at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, because of his enthusiasm for the poet T.S. Eliot, who was brought up in St Louis before emigrating to the UK at the age of 25. Following the Tiananmen Square massacre he decided not to return to China and instead managed to extricate his wife, Wang Lijun. Today they live in St Louis with their daughter, Julia.
Qiu Xiaolong is the author of the award-winning Inspector Chen series of mystery novels, including Death of a Red Heroine, A Loyal Character Dancer, When Red Is Black, A Case of Two Cities, Red Mandarin Dress, and The Mao Case. He is also the author of two books of poetry translations, Treasury of Chinese Love Poems and Evoking T'ang, and his own poetry collection, Lines Around China.
Qiu Xiaolong's website
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Cara Black joined Mystery Readers International (www.mysteryreaders.org) for an "At Home" with author Qiu Xiaolong.
Your books are so evocative and speak to the recent Chinese past, specifically the Chinese Cultural Revolution and post-Tiananmen Square, does the Government give you a hard time when you go back? Do people speak freely with you, or do you sense hesitance or avoidance on the officials part or friends to discuss life in China today?
I was worried about the official reaction when Death of a Red Heroine first came out, but the Chinese government must have been too busy with other concerns to notice a book written in English. Nobody talked to me about it during my subsequent visits back to China. Then about one year ago, a friend of mine got in touch with Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House, which started translating the book into Chinese. And I have just got a copy of it this month. The fact that the novel can be published there really surprises me. At the same time, the Chinese version also surprises me with its dramatic changes and cuts. In the English version, the story happens in Shanghai, but in the Chinese version, Shanghai has become "H city." All the street names have consequently changed too. Not ...
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