Kinga's Reviews > Red Mandarin Dress

Red Mandarin Dress by Qiu Xiaolong
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Jun 29, 11

bookshelves: crime, china
Read from July 10 to 16, 2010

I'm becoming softer with age. My initial reaction when I started reading this book was: What is this shit??
First of all it was a thriller and NOTHING happened. Xiaolong went on instead about the main character's Literature Paper. IN DETAIL. Eventually Chinese literature archetypes were linked to the murder case, and geez, wasn't that far-fetched. Trying to find the murderer by studying literature...you're not Umberto Eco, you know.
Now, you think if the author is so literature literate, the book will be beautifully written. Not your usual cheapness of thrillers. Ha, no, you're wrong, my friend. Qiu Xiaolong decided to introduce us to all things Chinese through the mouths of his characters. So all these poor guys and girls have to endlessly elaborate on China and Chinese culture confirming with each other random general truths. Ridiculous.
Another thing I learnt from this book is that all Chinese people constantly quote Confucius and traditional Chinese poems. And I mean - CONSTANTLY. On every page. Everybody, especially prostitutes and doormen. I have one Chinese friend, and she never quotes anything so I feel cheated. She is probably not even really Chinese. Probably from Birmingham.

Another thing was that the book so painfully predictable, I was at least 70 pages ahead of Chief Inspector Chen and wanted to slap him on many occasions.

So why three starts, you ask? Ah, like I said. I am becoming soft.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Helen (new)

Helen Ha ha, that was awesome. It's kind of like how I feel about Audrey Niffennegger; for some reason most of her characters seem to be very well-read and enjoy discussing obscure works that are probably on the highly literate's to-read list, but I've personally never heard of them. Oh very well. As your Chinese friend, I feel the responsibility to go find a Confucius quote for you:

"Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it."
--Confucius

Enjoy!


Mickey Hoffman It's a mystery, not really a thriller. I love books that don't have ten grisly murders on the first 50 pages.


Kinga I am not saying it should have ten grisly murders every 20 pages but something should happen. This is a genre novel, they are only good if things happen.


Mickey Hoffman For me it is enough to have a mystery and have some pieces of that come to light.


Aria I'm not sure if you're stereotyping or not but it's a slap to my face when you typed "all Chinese people constantly quote Confucius and traditional Chinese poems" and I find it quite rude because honestly, not everybody does. It depends on the upbringing of the person, the culture, tradition and ways, etc etc. After all, China's not the only place with Chinese people.


message 6: by Helen (new)

Helen Aria wrote: "I'm not sure if you're stereotyping or not but it's a slap to my face when you typed "all Chinese people constantly quote Confucius and traditional Chinese poems" and I find it quite rude because h..."

The original reviewer was being sarcastic -- she is critiquing the fact that for some reason, in this book the characters are written in this very stereotypical way.


Kinga Hi Helen, thanks for coming to my defence! I would've probably replied with something very sarcastic and we would've gone nowhere.

I just hope that Aria is very very young and her sarcasm detector is still growing.


message 8: by Helen (new)

Helen Kinga wrote: "I just hope that Aria is very very young and her sarcasm detector is still growing."

She has probably had bad experiences with negative stereotypes in the past (as one of my friends just had yesterday). I can understand why she would feel upset. If you don't know someone very well, it's easy to misinterpret their humor.

Anyway, thanks everyone for the reviews of the book -- now I know not to read it. :)


Aria Ahh, I see. Thank you for clearing things up, Helen and sorry about that, Kinga. And yes, you're both right.


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