Book Review: Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui

Topics: Woman, Love, Han Chinese Pages: 7 (2859 words) Published: October 11, 2011
BOOK REVIEW >>The Choice of Book This course requirement – the book review – moved me to approach my ‘into reading’ friends, a number of them. I sought their recommendation on what book to read provided that I am not fond of reading and that the only series that I have ever read, of course aside from text books, is the Harry Potter series. I was able to collect seven book titles but trimmed it down to three – Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, and Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks. Fortunately, my pick, first on the list, has been approved. This is a book recommended by an officemate, who happens to be a batch mate and a good friend as well. She said this book is very insightful so I’ve decided to rank it first. I got the book a little later, but I already had Nights in Rodanthe with me. So to practice my reading skills, I read this book as well. Probably because I like Nicholas Sparks movies and the book was not too thick, I also liked this book. The plot, however, is essentially romance – not quite arguable, so I went on reading the approved book. >>The Book >>Shanghai Baby Ironically, this book has been popular all over the world as it was banned in China. According to a review in 2001, forty thousand copies of this book were burned by Chinese government due to its scandalous content. It features the then explorative Chinese youth and their activities – night parties, drug abuse, prostitution, homosexuality, and love-making. Being a debut book of the author, Shanghai Baby results in a semiautobiographical novel. The copy that I have read is an English translation. Shanghai Baby has been translated into 34 different languages and has sold over six million copies in 45 countries. I have encountered several vocabulary words – i.e. nihilist, reeking, delirium, erudition, etc. – that made me look into the online dictionary for definitions. These words could have possibly been more descriptive in the original copy. >>The Author >>Wei Hui Zhou Weihui, known in the West as Wei Hui, studied Chinese Language and Literature at Fudan University in Shanghai, after a year of military training. Her first short story was published at the age of 21 according to Wikipedia. Wei Hui has been regarded by international media as a spokeswoman of the new generation of Chinese young women. Wei Hui was born in Ningbo in 1973 and a.. daughter of a Chinese army officer. She is the author of The Shriek of the Butterfly, Virgin in the Water, Crazy Like Wei Hui, Desire Pistol, and Shanghai Baby (her first writing to be published in English). – NAMOC | 2005-39159 | BOOK REVIEW CD201 | PROF. ELMER FERRER | OCTOBER 2010

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>>The Plot Banned and burned in China, SHANGHAI BABY is the story of a young urban woman, Coco, who waits tables by day and explores Shanghai’s intoxicating underbelly by night. While trying desperately to write a novel so that she might “burst upon the city like fireworks,” Coco falls in love with an impotent and drug-addicted Chinese artist, but also begins a wistful affair with a rich, married Western businessman with a penchant for seduction. With her candid yet poetic exploration of the outer limits of a woman’s sexuality, Wei Hui reads like a modern-day Anais Nin. Her provocative portrayal of men and women in cultural transition astonishes, with its exposure of the unacknowledged new China and of a generation determined to burst free. Above is the text on the back cover of the book that which I think captures the plot well. For me though, Shanghai Baby recounts the story of Coco, a young Shanghainese writer born in the 1970s, who after being moved by Tian Tian, her impotent lover, as well as the intricacies of a youth’s social life, was able to redeem her dream of writing a full length novel. This book reveals the innermost emotions of an urban Chinese woman – wondering insights and sexual desires a like. Alongside were the stories of Madonna, a Chinese mami who was...
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