Customer Review

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars puzzling, 17 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (Paperback)
I found this book puzzling because I don't understand the author's harping on the Chinese predilection for eating live food prepared at the table. As a long time USA resident, he must realize that these descriptions are revolting to the average western reader, yet he describes the live monkey brain dish at least three times. I also found his use of the oedipus complex faulty, and his Hercule Piorot ending disappointing.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Sep 2009 13:59:30 BDT
apas says:
I am a great fan of Qiu Xiaoling particularly his first two books. However, I would thank the 'Sculptor's Review for warning me of the 'monkey brains'. I have spent many years travelling throughout China and have always managed to avoid this 'speciality'! and I have no intention of reading about it. So, I'll skip 'Red Mandarin Dress' and go on to 'The Mao Case'.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Sep 2009 15:53:33 BDT
J. CAI says:
As a Chinese reader, I also find the "monkey brains" parts revolting. I ask the same question as to why Qiu repetitively describes those cruel dishes in great detail. One interpretation, as far as I understand, relates directly to the themetic emphasis on the impact of the Cultural Revolution on contemporary Chinese people. Especially in Red Mandarin Dress, Jia, as an indirect victim of the Cultural Revolution, suffered tremendously and formed a twisted personality. He revenged the man who raped his mother with a "slow death"--a time-lingering torture of losing family members one by one. This somehow is echoed by the way "monkey brain" dish is made. I would think this is used as a metaphor to inform the reader of the cruelty within not only the Cultural Revolution, the culprit, but the Chinese culture in general. Perhaps the author himself is seeking answers for why the Cultural Revolution happened in China and in the Chinese culture, which preaches eclecticism, and follows Confucian doctrines of peace and harmony.

And by the way, the "monkey brain" dishes, as alike other bizzare cruel dishes mentioned by Qiu in his Chen novels, are quite uncommon in average restaurants. So far, I have never been to any restaurant that sells "monkey brain" dish. Mostly, it is a scaring metaphor by people to refer to the pecularity of some of the Chinese dishes.
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