St. Louis poet, critic and crime novelist Qiu Xiaolong to read for The Center for the Humanities April 19-20

St. Louis-based poet, critic and crime novelist Qiu Xiaolong will read from his work at 8 p.m. Monday, April 19, as a part of The SmartSet Series: Where Great Writers Read, sponsored by The Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences. The reading will take place in the School of Law’s Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 204.

Qiu Xiaolong
Qiu Xiaolong

In addition, Qiu will lead a seminar on the craft of writing at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, in McMillan Café. The event will include a question-and-answer session. McMillan Café is located in Old McMillan Hall, Room 115.

Both events are free and open to the public. Copies of Qiu’s work will be available for purchase, and a book signing and reception will follow each program. Anheuser-Busch Hall is located on Olympian Way, just north of Forsyth Boulevard. McMillan Hall is located a short walk east of Anheuser Busch Hall. For more information call (314) 935-5576.

Qiu is the author of two prize-winning novels, Death of a Red Heroine (2000) and A Loyal Character Dancer (2002); a poetry translation, Treasury of Chinese Love Poems (2003); and a poetry collection, Lines Around China (2003). His new novel, When Red Is Black, has been published in French and will be released in English in July. A poetry translation, Poems from the Tang Dynasty, is also forthcoming this year.

Before arriving in the United States, in 1988, Qiu published prize-winning poetry, translations and criticism in Chinese and was a member of the Chinese Writers’ Association. After emigrating, Qiu began writing in English and earned a doctorate in comparative literature from Washington University. Today, he continues to reside in St. Louis with his wife Wang Lijun and daughter Julia.


WHO: Qiu Xiaolong

WHAT: The SmartSet Series: Where Great Writers Read

WHEN: Reading: 8 p.m. Monday, April 19; Seminar: 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 20

WHERE: Reading: School of Law’s Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 204; Seminar: McMillan Café, Old McMillan Hall, Room 115

COST: free and open to the public

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5576

Death of a Red Heroine, Qiu’s first novel in English, received a 2001 Anthony Award for First Novel and was the first of Qiu’s “Detective Chen” series, which follows the exploits of a police inspector, whose job sometimes brings him into conflict with upper echelons of the Chinese Communist party. The character’s background in English language and literature makes him an ideal host for American visitors, with whom he can discuss his love of Western literature, from T.S. Eliot to Faulkner.

Death of a Red Heroine was favorably reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Library Journal, Booklist and many others, and was selected by National Public Radio as one of the 10 best books of 2000. Publishers Weekly noted that, “The author, himself a poet and critic, peppers the story with allusions to classical Chinese literature, juxtaposing poignant poetry with a gruesome murder so that the novel reads like the translation of an ancient text imposed over a modern tale of intrigue. This is an impressive and welcome respite from the typical crime novel.” The Chicago Tribune added that, “Xiaolong knows that words can save your soul and in his pungent, poignant mystery, he proves it on every page.”

To a Western reader, the characters in Qiu’s novels quote poetry with unusual frequency. Qiu explains that “Most novels in China contain much more poetry [than Western novels], at the start of the chapter, at the end, and in the middle — and sometimes they use a poem to introduce a new character. I tried to keep this kind of Chinese tradition.” Using poetry, Qiu observes, “can be a way of discreetly revealing character. China has a self-effacing culture, it’s better not to say what you want to say immediately.”