Steve's China Blog

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Bookworm

In ChengDu we have a place here called the Bookworm. It is a restaurant/bar/library/book store. The Bookworm has a lot of books from all over in many different languages. I had been to the Bookworm only once before and bought a few books there. They do not have a lot of books for sale in English that I really like or need, but there are not many places here that have as many. There is also a Bookworm in Beijing and one in Suzhou.

For a few weeks in February and March the Bookworm is having a book/author festival, and several authors show up to discuss their books or whatever. On Monday I went there to hear from an author named Qiu Xiaolong. He is originally from Shanghai, but moved to the United States back in 1988. He wrote a few books of poetry in Chinese, and the started writing mystery novels in English. I had heard about him, but had never read any of his books.

I decided to show up early and have dinner at the Bookworm. I had never eaten there and I discovered that the food was rather good! I had the Nabokov - a juicy chicken breast stuffed with cheese in cognac sauce served with mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. I also bought a copy of Qiu Xiaolong's first mystery novel - Death of a Red Heroine, and read a little of that while I was eating.

After dinner I went to hear Qiu Xiaolong talk about his books. There were about 30 to 40 people there for the event. Admission was only 30 Yuan (about $4.22), and that included a glass of wine. The audience was mostly young Chinese, most likely college students. After talking about his books for awhile he took questions from the audience. The questions varied a lot... about the main character, about the murderers, about living in the United States, about writing books in a foreign language, etc... It was an interesting evening. Afterwards I got him to autograph the book I bought.

Since then I have read about half of Death of a Red Heroine (one of the reasons I haven't gotten around to completing the video of my commute to work). The book is pretty good and it's one of those hard-to-put-down books that I like. I have a few ideas of who I think the killer is, but I am not totally sure about any of them yet.

I've also found the history of the time of the book interesting. The story takes place in Shanghai in 1990... lots about people recovering from Mao's tragic Cultural Revolution and how they endure the changes to a free market economy. I have come up with a lot of questions for my Chinese friends and co-workers. I am curious what they're lives were like during those times.


  • NEEH , NEEH , you cant become king just because some watery tart threw a sword at you....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:14 AM  

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