Writer Qiu Xiaolong has built an international reputation as a poet and translator, and as the author of the Inspector Chen detective novels. Qiu’s first novel, Death of a Red Heroine, won the Anthony Award in 2001; since then, his novels have sold millions of copies and seen translation into twenty languages.
In 1988 Qiu went to Saint Louis, Missouri as a Ford Foundation Fellow to study comparative literature, but his support for pro-democracy activists back home put him on a Communist Party blacklist after the June Fourth Incident of 1989. After finishing his PhD on T. S. Eliot, Qiu settled in Saint Louis. From there he has published poetry in Chinese, English translations of Chinese poetry, ten novels, and, most recently, a collection of Inspector Chen’s poetry from the novels. Foreign-language versions of Qiu’s novels appear in bookstores in the People’s Republic of China, but Party censors have thwarted the distribution of Chinese versions. Their author, fortunately, retains the freedom to come and go.
The Inspector Chen novels, which Qiu writes in English, make Shanghai’s political and cultural history since 1949 as important as any character. Chief Inspector Chen Cao, assigned by Party diktat to police work, would rather spend his time on poetry but instead investigates murders. He moves through a city where Party politics, the traumas of the Cultural Revolution, and the post-1978 economic boom channel human passions in ways both widely accessible and historically specific.
Introduction and moderation of the discussion by Dr. Ezra Claverie, Language Lecturer in the Writing Program at NYU Shanghai.
The Literary Reading Series is sponsored by the NYU Shanghai Writing Program.
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