Friday, August 31

Book Review: Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai

Title: Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai

Author: Qiu Xiaolong

Pages: 227

Summary: A critically acclaimed international bestseller, Years of Red Dust is a lined collection of short stories that tells the story of modern China - from the early days of the Communist Revolution in 1949 to the Modernization Movement of the late 1990's - all from the perspective of one small street in Shanghai, Red Dust Lane. Through the voices and the lives of its most ordinary citizens, Qiu Xiaolong reveals the sights and sounds of everyday life as well as the changing political and social landscape that is China.

Welcome to Red Dust Lane (1949)
When I Was Coceived (1952)
Return of POW I (1954)
(Tofu) Worker Poet Bao I (1958)
Chinese Chess (1964)
Shoes of the Cultural Revolution (1966)
Cricket Fighting (1969)
When President Nixon Visited China (1972)
Pill and Picture (1976)
A Jing Dynasty Goat (1979)
Uniform (1980)
Big Bowl and Firecracker (1984)
A Confidence Cap (1987)
Housing Assignment (1988)
Iron Rice Bowl (1990)
Return of POW II (1992)
Old Hunchback Fang (1995)
(Tofu) Worker Boet Bao II (1996)
Foot Masseur (1998)
Father and Son (2000)
Confucius and Crab (2001)
Eating and Drinking Salesman (2003)
Lottery (2005)

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: 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 events would happen in the country, but the people on the street would live on with their everyday lives, attempting to move on in life, stray away from gossip, find an apartment or even participate in cricket fighting.

The author did an amazing job at highlighting these events in the lives of those who lived on Red Dust Line. The characters were well constructed, and overall enjoyable to read about. Many characters found throughout the collection, even if it was only a brief mention, which helped create some well rounded stories. While there were times a characters story wasn't completely finished, their story was sometimes touched on later in the book.

Overall, an excellent collection of short stories, rich with culture and characterization.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. Very enjoyable, informative collection of short stories.

What to read next: I'd read the author again, not sure where else to look after that.

Challenges: 12 in 12 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, New Author Challenge


  1. I like stories set in the East, and a collection of short stories that goes this far back into history, and takes place in the same street really appeals to me. I will have to check this one out when I can. It sounds like it's really creative and well written. Nice review today, Jules!

    1. It created a very interesting since of community at times, it was a good story, well worth reading, hopefully you get a chance to read it soon.

  2. Thanks for the review. I've read one of this author's mysteries and have another on hand, but have not tried his short stories. This collection sounds like it is worth reading.

    1. My first time with the author, not a crime/mystery fiction fan, but I will try him again. The collection is excellent, and if his writing is the same quality in short fiction as it in his other books, it should be well worth reading.