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Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai Hardcover – September 28, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Years of Red Dust is a great collection of short stories about Shanghai--most of which take place in a traditional lane (I believe the one in which Qiu himself grew up) and involve a variety of interesting characters and narratives. They provide a critical insight not only into Shanghai and China, but also into the Cultural revolution and the effects of Communism both then and now. I actually found these stories to be more powerful than most of the true tales of the Cultural Revolution that I've read before; Qiu manages to add a beautiful dimension of literary introspection that sometimes 1st-hand narratives are frequently hard-pressed to portray.
Overall, a great read--both in terms of history and literature. Qiu brings you straight into the hearts of the Chinese people and everything they encountered during their "Years of Red Dust."
Each chapter begins with a brief excerpt from the final issue of the year of the fictional "Red Dust Lane Blackboard Newsletter," which details the upheavals that marked life in a specific year from 1949 to 2005, including the Cultural Revolution and the political and scientific advances made by China. Following each of these entries is a fascinating human interest story about a resident of the lane as it pertains to the particular turbulent events of that year. These stories, while short, are beautifully and sympathetically written, thoroughly engrossing, seeming very true to life in that very unique milieu, and -- as might be expected -- told with the subtle slant of the expatriate author. Liberally sprinkled with and enriched by apt Chinese proverbs, the book draws the reader into the outlook and daily life of the residents as they cook in the communal kitchen, gossip together in the lane, and adapt as well as they can to the rapid and sometimes confounding changes that are taking place around them.
"Years of Red Dust" is a quick, but powerful read. I was very delighted and not surprised to see the book featured as an Editor's Choice in The New York Times book section on Sunday, October 24th.
Each chapter begins with a yearend newsletter from the inhabitants of shabby, working-class Red Dust Lane. The upbeat party line patter summarizes China's great achievements of that year. Following that comes a story that tells the real story.
We relive the experiences of educated youths, class enemies, model workers, stinking capitalists, worker poets, girlfriends of convenience, aging youths, Red Guards and Big Bucks - in a schizophrenic society where the rules are always changing.
YEARS OF RED DUST is an impressive piece of writing. Qui Xiaolong's lively prose is peppered with Chinese proverbs, Confucian wisdom, Maoist slogans and colorful Shanghai expressions.
The anecdotal nature of the book somehow delivers a panoramic picture of the political and economic climate in China from 1949 through 2005. But the big picture is always shown in small things. For the neighbors in Red Dust Lane, this is "seeing the world in a grain of sand."
As I drifted through this book, liking it more and more, I picked up all sorts of fascinating cultural tidbits. One example: crickets found in cemeteries are believed to absorb infernal spirits - and so make champion cricket fighters.
I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of literary fiction - and of course to anyone interested in the mindboggling contortions of recent Chinese history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a most enjoyable collection of vignettes of life on a traditional street in Shanghai. Each chapter contains a story that shows life as it was every few years in China. Read morePublished 28 days ago by zorba
The timeline and stories of Red Dust Lane are filled with irony and truth of the Chinese Proverb " "where there is fortune there is naturally misfortune". Read morePublished 3 months ago by S. Gutierrez
Its's a great read if you know what you are reading for. Very helpful for a different perspective on the communist movement.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
"Years of Red Dust" is a wonderful, poetic book. It is a collection of very quick short stories. All the stories focus on Red Dust Lane, a Shanghai neighborhood. Read morePublished 15 months ago by M.B.
Fifty years of Chinese history in these short stories - very well written and just simply a good book!Published 15 months ago by Catherine Galitzine
Qiu Xiaolong, renowned for his collection of Inspector Chen detective novels, has done something very different here and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Sonomagirl