Qiu's corner

First, apologies for the delay in updating this site. Time really flies. Almost two years since the last report was posted. For one unfortunate excuse, my former web master was sick. Also, I have been overwhelmed. Last year alone, I've made one research trip to Asia, four promotion trips to Europe, and one-month lecture tour to Australia and New Zealand; and then, for the first half of this year, already two trips to Europe, one trip to Asia, and more trips in the States, including one with my daughter Julia to New York, where she started working this summer...

Instead of going over a list of all these, no matter how relevant to the books, I'll focus on the writing itself instead, which is what connects you and me. As I've acknowledged before, it is your support and encouragement that make that worth while. If I have not written back to each and every mail I have received, let me report here, by way of apology, that in spite of the demanding schedules, it has been a very productive period.

Don't Cry, Tai Lake, book seven in the Inspector Chen series, was released in May, 2012. It has been so well received by critics and readers. NPR calls it "Murder most ecological in China." Here I'm enclosing links to some of the reviews and interviews, in which you may read not only their comments, but also how and why I came to write the book based on the real ecological disaster in Wuxie, a scenic resort known for the once beautiful Tai Lake. The book has also been optioned for a movie of Australia / China joint production, and a script is being composed at this moment. Hopefully, we'll be able to see Inspector Chen investigating on the screen in the near future.
   (Booking Tour with my editor in France)

In the same month, The Enigma of China (Cyber China for the French title), book eight in the Inspector Chen series, came out in France. From the French title, you may guess that it's a murder case set in the contemporary China's cyber space background. It's already a bestseller there, with raving reviews from all the major newspapers, including Paris Match, Le Figaro and others. In Paris, my friend Bertrand said to me that it's the most passionately critical, and cynical too, in the series, and it's perhaps because of Chen's increasing disillusionment, we agreed, over what's been happening in China. According to my German publisher, it is also the most contemporary of the Inspector Chen series. (As for a noticeable vagueness about the specific year of the story, it's simply because I want to go back to Shanghai regularly, and I don't want to get into trouble because of that.) The English version is scheduled to appear early next year. Why the French earlier? It's a question many readers have asked me. Alas, I don't have an answer to it. It's too much of a mystery even for Inspector Chen.

At present, I'm working on book nine—untitled yet—in the Inspector Chen series. I started it before the April trip to China, where I first heard about the scandal of Bo Xilai, the Communist Party boss in Chongqing. At the time, I already put Inspector Chen in trouble in the manuscript, but will it be like that of the Chongqing Police Chief? I'm still working on it. Suffice it to say here that details of the Bo Xilai case may find their way into the new mystery, though it's not a book about Bo Xilai.

In September, a different book is coming out, but related to Inspector Chen. A photography / poetry collection titled Disappearing Shanghai, it's a collaboration between Howard French and me, out of our common passion for the city of Shanghai. Howard took so many fantastic pictures, "imagist" poems were inspired on my part—through the perspective and persona of Inspector Chen, to whom the scenes are familiar, but disappearing. For me, it's also an experiment based on classical Chinese poetics—"picture in poem, poem in picture." For more information about the book, you may contact www.homabooks.com,

With so much happening in China today, Inspector Chen still has a long way to go, but in the meantime, I have not put another series on hold: Years of Red Dust. I'm expanding that collection of linked stories, eventually, in an ambitious a-story-a-year project, from 1949 to the present. It's my plan to fill up the gap—considering how that part of history is officially obliterated in China--with a multi-volume history in story endeavor. Years of Red Dust II, which covers the years untold in the first volume, is scheduled to come out in France next year. Some of the stories in the collection have appeared in a number of languages.

Last but not the least, a new Chinese translation of T. S. Eliot's poems has finally come out. I started translating Eliot in the early eighties when working on my first MA degree in Beijing. Eliot has influenced me—as well as Inspector Chen— more than any other writers. Now, the new edition was made possible by a number of translators, including myself (most of my translation done years ago but revised). In an increasingly materialistic society, I am so grateful to Shanghai Translation Press for the worthy endeavor.