Last Words from Montmartre
NYRB Classics June 3, 2014
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review
When the pioneering Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin committed suicide in 1995 at age twenty-six, she left behind her unpublished masterpiece, Last Words from Montmartre. Unfolding through a series of letters written by an unnamed narrator, Last Words tells the story of a passionate relationship between two young women—their sexual awakening, their gradual breakup, and the devastating aftermath of their broken love.
Qiu Miaojin’s literary style is cerebral, lyrical and profoundly intimate. Last Words from Montmartre is painful as well as beautiful as Qiu Miaojin reveals herself completely. An arresting read of layers of disclosure, love, reminiscence and myth, along with suicide notes, a tribute to her vulnerability and passionate heart, soul and mind. Predicative, eerily truthful.
After reading this acutely intimate writing, I asked myself how I would feel if letters were discovered and shared upon my demise. Feeling intrusive and yet privileged at gaining privy to Qiu Miaojin’s last thoughts, her words leave the reader haunted and cause great provocation. Incredible, ground breaking writer with unlimited potential leaving her legacy for those who recognized her talent and those who have yet to discover this maverick author with direct and bold prose.