Thursday, July 7, 2011
I have been afflicted with severe wanderlust as long as I can remember and often look to books for some satisfaction. I can recommend an outstanding remedy for this particular malady-the Inspector Chen series by Qiu Xiaolong. This series is set in modern Shanghai and completely surrounds you with the sounds, smells, tastes and behaviors of another place. And Chen and his associates have their own unique take on crimes and their solutions. Chen, in particular, walks a fine line as the son of a Confucian scholar and a writer and poet and fluent English speaker. For those of us who don't know all there is to know about Mao and the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, the word is illuminating. This series is one of those outstanding combinations of plot and character with lots of moral ambiquity and no easy answers. Start with Death of a Red Heroine and feel your obsessions with daily life ooze away-and learn about Confucius, Chinese poetry and T S Eliot at the same time.