Showing posts with label Shanghai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shanghai. Show all posts

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Shanghai by Riichi Yokomitsu - a Japanese Novel of Interwar Shanghai

 Shanghai between the world wars is a fascination of Westerns, the Chinese themselves, but also the Japanese. The zeitgeist of 1920s Shanghai is reflected in the appropriately named Shanghai by Riichi Yokomitsu.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Nicky Harman on The Book of Shanghai: some exciting writing talent and excellent translators

As a follow-up to Rosie Milne's post on THE BOOK OF SHANGHAI, I have been thinking about what makes a good introduction to contemporary Chinese literature, and what can persuade new readers to dip a toe in unknown waters. Logically, short stories should be a good way in, because length-wise, they don’t require too much commitment. But I am someone who loves to immerse myself in a full-length novel, so I approached The Book of Shanghai with, let’s say, an open mind.

Historically, Shanghai has had a powerful grip on the western imagination. Of course, it was always much more than the exotic den of iniquity it was portrayed as. As Jin Li, one of the editors, writes in his excellent introduction, ‘The influences of a recently industrialized West mingled, interacted and cross-pollinated with the traditions of a culture that had developed over many centuries. As a contact point between East and West, with its unique location, Shanghai paved the way, acting as a testing site where various ideological and cultural ideas were welcomed, accommodated and re-imagined.’

But that was then, and now is now. In The Book of Shanghai, the picture emerges of a thoroughly modern city. These stories scarcely even hint at Shanghai’s exotic or insalubrious past. Instead, they describe the human condition as it is today. Not that all the stories are realistic. Some are quite fantastical and have beguilingly strange protagonists. But all of them are rooted in the present... or the future.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Researching Old Shanghai by Matthew Legare

Matthew Legare is the author of the Reiko / Inspector Aizawa historical thrillers set in pre-World War II Japan, and published by Black Mist Books. His latest novel is set in 1930s Shanghai. In this companion piece to his previous post on researching historical Japan, Matthew writes about books he'd recommend to other authors researching Old Shanghai.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Destination Shanghai by Paul French

Paul French, the bestselling author of Midnight in Peking and City of Devils, writes Asian Books Blog's monthly Tsundoku column.  He here talks about the research behind another of his recent books, Destination Shanghai, first in a projected series.

Destination Shanghai is, I hope, the first in a series of books about various foreigners passing through, living and often dying in Asia. I started with Shanghai as it’s where I lived for many years, but am moving on with Destination Peking, Hong Kong, Singapore and then who knows where…

I realised that after thirty-something years of studying Asia I had a wealth of stories that could be gathered into these books – on my blog, in notebooks, in magazines and literary journals as well as in my head. As often, I’ve avoided telling stories of dry missionaries, self-aggrandizing businessmen or pompous diplomats. I prefer writers and artists, bohemian sojourners and my favoured writing territory of the demi-monde of Asian port city life – the showgirls, grifters, conmen and gangsters that proliferated. So, Destination Shanghai has the stories of Russian émigrés, Jewish refugees from the Nazis, conmen on the run, pimps and prostitutes falling out, Shanghai nightclub dancers who made it to Hollywood, movie stars passing through and a motley assortment of strange types who landed on the Bund over the years.