I’m pleased to find the local library in Singapore has some of Qiu Xiaolong’s detective novels, which feature a Chief Inspector of Police, Chen, who also happens to be a poet and English major. The novels are in translation (naturally, for me to read them); they take place in Shanghai in the 1990s, and have been appearing over the last 5-8 years in English.
I was remarking to my spouse yesterday that I no longer read detective novels for the plot; I read them for style, local information, attractive characters, and other stuff. (So I’ve turned into one of those people who reads the first few chapters and then read the ending, to see if it’s worth reading the bits in the middle – shame on me.) And the English-language style of Qiu’s novels is not all that great, but his books have lots of stuff that make them fun for me to read. I don’t know how much is interesting to Chinese people, but here’s my list of compelling categories: (more…)