From abandonment issues to dissapearing Shanghai culture, here are our reading recommendations for the month of April.
Quiet but determined Jialing is zazhong (mixed race), with a Chinese mother and a foreign father she's never met. When her mother disappears, she must learn how to survive on her own. She becomes a bondservant to a wealthy family and grows into womanhood during the early 1900s, a period of political upheaval in China. Jialing embarks on a search for clues that might lead her to her mother and to her shadowy past, all while grappling with her racial identity which marks her as different from everyone around her. Dragon Springs Road weaves together romance, mystery, historical fiction and folklore into a poetic story of female friendship and coming-of-age in historical Shanghai.
Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang is available on Amazon.com for RMB75.
Shikumen, or traditional Chinese style lane houses, have been disappearing en masse over the last few years. Many are being demolished to make way for expensive high-rise buildings, displacing older residents and changing the culture of the city all at once. Lilong Lives archives the Fireflies gatherings, an interactive art show held at Siwenli, one of the city’s largest and longest lasting shikumen buildings. Sixty-eight artists, performers, and creatives came together for an exhibit that included current residents alongside new work inspired by the surroundings. Largely a photography book, short profiles are used to give a glimpse into the lives and legacies of the people of Siwenli.
Lilong Lives by Jeremy Cheval is available at Garden Books for RMB220.
Melissa Febos’first memoir Whip Smart, details her previous life as both a professional dominatrix alongside a paralyzing substance addiction. Abandon Me, once again lets readers in on the most intimate parts of her past and present, specifically her fears around love and abandonment. Stories are told chronologically, from early abandonment by her birth father, to growing up with a stepfather whose work at sea kept him gone, an addiction during her college years and, finally, an emotionally abusive relationship in her early 30s. Febos uses her personal narrative to explore abandonment in different contexts, what it means to feel abandoned as well as what abandoning oneself to a feeling, desire, or person is like, and at what cost.
Abandon Me by Melissa Febos is available on Amazon.com for RMB68.
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