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Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai (Cité de la Poussière Rouge #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  345 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Published originally in the pages of Le Monde, this collection of linked short stories by Qiu Xiaolong has already been a major bestseller in France (Cite de la Poussiere Rouge) and Germany (Das Tor zur Roten Gasse), where it and the author was the subject of a major television documentary. The stories in Years of Red Dust trace the changes in modern China over fifty years ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Chris
So disappointing. Can't remember the last time I was this happy for a book to be completed. There's a line in the second to last story that sums up this book perfectly: "What he talked about, however, was hardly exciting enough to make a story." The book is a series of stories based on the lives of people who live in Red Dust Lane in Shanghai from 1949 thorugh 2005. I like stories about China, and Shanghai in particular. But there seems to be almost no point to these stories at all. The most int ...more
Kristine Hansen
Not sure what to say that hasn't already been said. The stories here all have the connection of Red Dust Lane, a house on a street in Shanghai. Every story begins with a little of Chinese history and then proceeds from there.

After awhile, I was glad to see the book end. I'm not usually like that, but there is a sadness to so many of these stories. I know that sadness comes as a reflection of the truth portrayed of this place, of this era, of this changing political climate from 1949 until 2005.
...more
Alta
This very charming collection of short stories written by a Chinese writer was published without any reference--anywhere on/inside the book--to the translator. There is an indication--barely visible in small print--about the fact that the original first appeared in "Le Monde." Maybe the writer lives in France and writes in French, but even so, there should be a mention about the translation. The book didn't write itself out of thin air.
Carl R.
Feb 18, 2014 Carl R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Xiaolong Qiu's Red Dust is a small lane in Shanghai, and his conceit for this collection of linked short tales is a storyteller with a blackboard who sits near the end of the lane and tells of the days and years of the residents over the years from the Communist Revolution of 1949 through to modern times. Qiu's structure is simple. He prefaces each story with a piece of governmental propaganda summarizing the glories of the socialist society for the year in question. Each story brings us in touc ...more
Regina Lindsey
“But, in the last analysis, where do we live? In our petty personal lives, not in a history text book.” Red Dust is a residential area in Shanghai, China. In the early days of its formation the residents start a tradition of gathering in the open spaces each evening to catch up on personal, political, and other news. Eventually, a black board is brought in and a loose newsletter begins to be produced. Each chapter starts with the final newsletter of years between 1949-2005. The newsletter reflec ...more
Julie
Aug 27, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads, fiction
This was an excellent collection of short stories, which was easy to immerse myself into. Combined with excellent writing, it's a collection of short stories I'd highly recommend.

I loved how the author started each short story with and expert of the community's news letter, highlighting the major political and cultural events that occurred during that year. Paralleled with events that happened in their own little street it helped add some flavour to the book, as there were times when major even
...more
Mae
May 22, 2012 Mae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Well written and fascinating. Its a collection of short stories all placed in a given lane in Shanghai. Its a good read to commence to understand the recent changes in China. The author places each story in the same place since 1949 through the present times. The political, economical and social changes are cleverly presented to the reader. When you are done, it feels more like a novel than a collection of stories. You actually want to go on.
Chris Bull
Aug 12, 2014 Chris Bull rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Xiaolong Qiu's Red Dust is a time warp of everyday existence from 1949 to the present. His characters are everyday people trying to get along as best as they can. China has moved several centuries in development since 1949 but not without Sturm und Drang, this reflected in the microcosm of Red Dust Lane. A great book.
Jo
Oct 28, 2015 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories were wonderful, but the inclusion of political information about China, while it set the scene, threw off the pacing for me. I especially liked the later stories, where the lives of some characters were laid out from the 1950s to the present, and the way life in China has been dangerous and volatile due to their political circumstances is really brought down to a personal level.
Mattia
Feb 19, 2011 Mattia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politica
La storia della Cina comunista attraverso la vita della gente di una piccola strada di Shanghai. Per conoscere quello che da noi, per provincialismo o per ideologia, non si è mai raccontato della Cina.
Michael O'Donnell

A great read. Traces the path from 1949 Nationalists through to 2010 Communist China. All from one street. Separate short stories. Context provided early. The stories were simple yet intertwined. Wise ones still exist but sometimes observe only. I loved A Jing Dynasty Goat.

Shanghai.
Tara
Nov 10, 2015 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The stories in this book must be read slowly to allow the significances of set in.
Shadowlove3
There were some stories that got a reaction from me, but not in a good way that made me like the book. One was anger and another was being grossed out. It seems like this book can only be enjoyed by people who know the history of China as some references, such as crabs being expensive, went over my head and was just confused as to why they would be described in such detail in some of the stories.
Nancy Bond
May 29, 2017 Nancy Bond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Great inside to Chinese culture and history in fiction form. I have enjoyed all the books that Qiu has written. The author is a US citizen living in Webster Groves, MO, a suburb of St. Louis.
Louise
Jan 11, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
My grandmother's house was a two story shack pushed against other similar shacks in an alley called Chopstick Road. My dad said it was called Chopstick Road because it was so long and narrow. The alley opened up onto a busy street full of bicycles, loud buses, and honking cars. On one corner where the alley met the street was a small to-go restaurant where people could buy pre-made dishes to supplement their dinner. On the other corner was a general goods store where we could buy things like too ...more
Carole
Jul 29, 2015 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a subtle, ironic and often humorous manner, Qiu Xiaolong traces the vagaries of life under the Chinese Communist regime through the eyes and life experiences of the various residents of humble Red Dust Lane in Shanghai. Held together by the yearly party-line overview published in the fictional Red Dust Blackboard News, these short sketches tell the stories of various individual residents, crammed together in subdivided housing, as they cope with the wildly varying government policies extendin ...more
Timons Esaias
Nov 23, 2014 Timons Esaias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up YEARS OF RED DUST to consider for use in my World Literature course, knowing Qiu Xiaolong from his Shanghai mystery series. It's a novel-in-stories, all set in Red Dust Lane in Shanghai, covering the years from 1949-2005.

Only a few characters recur in the stories (the lane is very crowded), so the tales mostly stand on their own; most of them beginning with a newsletter annual roundup of major events in China. For a reader who is not familiar with Chinese history in that period, the
...more
Ck
Jun 19, 2012 Ck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chance upon this book while browsing in the library..I had heard of inspector Chen but had not yet read any of Qiu's books. While this book is a recount of incidents from the early Communist days of 1949 right to the modernisation days of 2005, I find many of the stories all too familiar..having seen them in many movies or reading them in many books covering China. This comes across to me more like a historical text of fragments and headlines as the years breezed by. That said, many of the sto ...more
Jason Furman
Aug 16, 2011 Jason Furman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short story cycle is set in what I believe is a fictional street, Red Dust Lane, in Shanghai. The stories are each labeled with a year -- starting in 1949 and ending in 2005. They all begin with prefatory material "This is the last issue of The Red Dust Lane Blackboard Newsletter for the year XXXX" which serves as a frame for the story that follows, generally a simple story of the local residents, often with their daily lives shaped by the massive events around them.

By themselves, none of t
...more
Amy
I picked up this book because I am a fan of Qiu's Inspector Chan series and found it to be a nice collection of short stories in his slice-of-life style, stories interspersed with quotes from poetry and Confuscius. I thought it was an interesting idea to see how the citizens of Red Dust Lane lived and changed over a period of 50 years, particularly through Mao's revolution and then through the new economic changes in the 1980s and 90s.

Some of these stories were familiar and seem to be reused in
...more
Ladysatel
A series of stories about the residents of Red Dust Lane in Shanghai from just after WWII to the year 2005. Each story shows the effects of the political climate at that particular year on one of the residents.

The Chinese people suffered terribly under the Mao Regime, yet many look back fondly as they felt they were valued as part of the political cadre. After all, the Party guaranteed a life time job and pension for the workers.

However, after Mao's death the political climate began to change an
...more
James
In Years of Red Dust, Qiu Xiaolong follows the residents of the Red Dust Lane neighbourhood through the last 60 years of modern Chinese history, from the foundation of the People's Republic to the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and up until the Reform era under Deng Xiaoping.

Each short story follows one or more residents of Red Dust Lane and we can see how the grand schemes of history, how major policies and changes changed the lives of everyday people. Characters return throughout the overal
...more
Nancy Groves
This is an interesting series of inter-related stories set in a neighborhood in Shanghai, starting with the Communist takeover in 1949 and up to a few years ago. These vignettes show the residents trying to go about their lives while the government keeps changing the rules: one day they're expected to praise a neighbor, the next to denounce her; free enterprise is forbidden, then it's allowed, even encouraged, and once again everyone tries to adjust to the ongoing absurdity and arbitrariness of ...more
Mark
Mar 04, 2011 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
its listed as an "internationally bestselling collection of stories", but even though I love Qiu's mystery novels its hard to see this book as bestselling. Not that the stories weren't entertaining but I guess I've come to expect more from Qiu.

I liked more than anything the little proverbs he attached to the stories.

This book reads more like a blog, but I don't know, it's kind of a throw-together book if there is such a thing. Its lacking a lot of emotion if you ask me, the Cultural Revolution r
...more
Zuzana
A collection of short stories set in a fictional lane in the city of Shanghai during the Communist era (1949-2005).

"A written story inevitably comes to an end at the last page of the book, whether happily ever after or not. Nothing is like that in real life. You can put an end to your narrative one intoxicated evening, but in a few years, there will be some new development or unexpected twist. A comedy turns into a tragedy, or vice versa, which changes the meaning of the earlier story. Needless
...more
John Armstrong
Jul 23, 2015 John Armstrong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chinese-modern
Ex-pat Chinese author Qiu Xiaolong takes a break from his Inspector Chen Cao mystery series to offer a set of linked (shared character) short stories set in an old Shanghai neighborhood named Red Dust. The events of the stories span half a century but the main themes are the Cultural revolution and economic reforms that followed it and how they affected people's lives. The stories are straightforward narratives and focus more on character than plot. This book will have a very familiar feel for a ...more
Madhurabharatula Pranav Rohit Kasinath
It's a little difficult to waltz through this book. Each story requires a degree of mindfulness and focus to complete and understand the underlying meaning. The stories range from the humorous, to the poignant and the sad, implying how the personal lives of ordinary human beings mirror the changing politics of communist China. It is a wonderful book that lends itself to quiet contemplation and the wry smile...affecting and engaging and benefiting from multiple readings. Very beautifully written.
☕Laura
This book is a series of short stories revolving around various residents of Red Dust Lane in Shanghai from 1949 through 2005. The historical changes which took place over this period of time in China were certainly interesting and it was interesting to see how the author presented these changes in terms of their effect on ordinary citizens. However, I would have enjoyed this book more if the characters were more developed, with greater insight into their thoughts and emotions. Instead, the stor ...more
Patricia
Sep 05, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the books I read by Qin Xiaolong are in a detective series; this one is the story of lives on Red Dust Lane from the inception of the Communist years through the death of Mao to the present (23ll, 2005). The rise and fall of individual fortunes weave a tapestry of a country in perpetual transition, and with no safety net to catch those who are thriving one day and falling the next. This is one of my favorite authors; when I read him, I feel I have been Chinese for a short time.
Susan
Sep 24, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories that take place in a traditional lane in Shanghai center around ordinary characters struggling with their everyday lives amidst enormous change. Set over a period of more than fifty years, these insights into personal lives tell the story of modern Chinese history in a more immediate way than any sweeping epic could do. I am not a great fan of short stories, but these definitely add up to a whole that is much more than the sum of the parts.
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Qiu Xiaolong (裘小龙) was born in Shanghai, China. He is the author of the award-winning Inspector Chen series of mystery novels, Death of a Red Heroine (2000), A Loyal Character Dancer (2002), When Red Is Black (2004), A Case of Two Cities (2006), Red Mandarin Dress (2007), and The Mao Case (2009). He is also the author of two books of poetry translations, Treasury of Chinese Love Poems (2003) and E ...more
More about Qiu Xiaolong...

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