This is the fourth volume in Xiaolong's
Inspector Chen series, but it is not necessary to have read the
earlier books to appreciate this one. The series, set
mainly in 1990s Shanghai (although about half the action in A
Tale of Two Cities takes place in Los Angeles), explores the
fast changing political and cultural climate of modern China
through the eyes of Inspector Chen who, like the author, came
across an English textbook as a teenager, which triggered a
lifelong interest in English poetry, particularly modernists
such as T.S. Eliot.
After graduating with a degree in literature, Chen was assigned by the government to the Shanghai Police Bureau as a detective and is now an Inspector in charge of the "special case squad" which investigates political crimes. Chen's job requires him to perform a ...
Qiu Xiaolong (pronounced "chew-shao-long")
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, which was the start of an interest
that grew into an academic specialty in
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...
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