Tag Archives: Shanghai

Shanghai — A nostalgic journey back with Zafar Anjum

Zafar Anjum writes about his Shanghai trip in 2011


Shanghai Bund by night


Initially I was not sure if I was going to Shanghai at all, but the visa came through. I had tried once before but was not lucky enough to get the visa (in that instance, the paperwork was not complete and so on; it’s a long story). I was totally unprepared for the journey this time. This was one of those rare journeys which I undertook without reading anything about the city that I was visiting. I think there was some innocence about this unpreparedness, this ignorance. I took Shanghai as she revealed herself to me. I didn’t go there with any fixed images, so I was neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed when I stepped into Shanghai.

Before going to Shanghai, one of my colleagues had shown me pictures of his visit to the city nearly ten years ago. In his collection, there were pictures of skyscrapers, the famous Bund, and some Chinese temples. In the pictures, the sky looked muddy, overcast with smog. Only that image of a smog-laden Shanghai stayed with me. Avoid the beggars in Shanghai, my colleague warned me. There will be plenty of them and they will approach foreigners like you, he said. I noted his advice. From my Indian experience I knew how to avoid beggars, so I was not worried about encountering them. Read more

What Writers and Artistes feel about Kashmir in Ten Tweets


What are writers and artistes tweeting about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir? What is their attitude to the people in this region?

Rahul Pandita, author and conflict writer from Kashmir, tweeted that “In all, a majority of Kashmiris have no idea what abrogation of article 370 means. Argue with them for a minute and one realises they are totally ignorant. All they know is ‘India will now take away everything.’ From our sources we know NSA(National Security Agency) is aware of it. Big challenge.”

Mirza Waheed, Kashmiri writer and novelist who now lives in London, wrote, “August 11, 2019. Day 7 of Seige of Kashmir. We are not allowed to say Eid Mubarak to our families.” But is it a seige or an attempt to integrate the state into the country?

Vikram Chandra, a commonwealth prize winning American Indian novelist, wrote, “In his Aug 8 speech, PM Narendra Modi did say it was for every Indian to share the concerns of the citizens of J&K. Best way to do that today is to reach out to Kashmiris in other parts of India, spending Eid away from home. Make them feel that they ARE at home.”

Actress Shabana Azmi tweeted “Kashmiri Pandit Youth invite every Kashmiri who has been unable to travel home for Eid for a get together…”

Novelist and essayist Chetan Bhagat has taken a stand where he says, “August 5, 2019. Kashmir is finally free. Free to grow, free to make a future. #Article 370 goes. #OneCountryOneSystem.” And also, “Article 370 never gave Kashmiris freedom. It only created selfish leaders who created a terror filled society and robbed Kashmiri youth of opportunity. It is finally time for it to go. Anyone objects, tell them loudly: One Country, One System.” Read more

Book review: The Dancing Girl & the Turtle makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like light bondage with its tale of Chinese prostitution

By Joyce Lau

dancing girlHookers with hearts of gold have undeniable appeal as characters. They are sensual and risqué, while also sympathetic and socially poignant. Unfortunately, they have also become as stereotypical as the girl bound to the railroad tracks in old Hollywood films. The challenge for any emerging author is to make something new of this old story.

Karen Kao does just that, with her debut novel The Dancing Girl & the Turtle an impressive entry in a long line of exotic, erotic novels starring Chinese prostitutes – from The World of Suzie Wong in 1957 to Lotus in 2017.

The book is set in 1930s Shanghai, an era of opium smoke, elaborate dance halls and glamorous women in cheongsam. Into this world steps Song Anyi, an innocent girl from the countryside who, rather predictably, is pale, slender and unusually beautiful. Her recently deceased parents were silk vendors who catered to the rich, leaving her as a lone orphan who (rather conveniently) also has fine fashion sense and ballroom dancing skills. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post

US writer’s book on Beijing out in Chinese seven decades later

By Wu Yue

Marian Cannon Schlesinger, 104, can still recall what Beijing was like in the 1930s, when she visited China to see her sister, Wilma Cannon Fairbank, and brother-in-law, John King Fairbank.

“I fear that old Peking and all its wonderful atmosphere, the hutong (alleys), mud houses, sounds and daily life, as I knew them, have long disappeared,” Schlesinger writes in her introduction to San Bao and His Adventures in Peking.

The book’s Chinese translation, published by Beijing-based Zhonghua Book Company, was released in October, 77 years after the original in English was first published in the United States.

“I think what I caught in my little book is almost a historical record,” she adds.

Schlesinger arrived in Shanghai in 1934 after a 17-day ship journey from the US having completed her college education. Read more

Source: China Daily 

The poetry of pain defines author’s new collection: Zhao Lihong

By Xing Yi


While Zhao Lihong is defined by his prose in China, the writer says poetry is what drives him.

In November, Zhao released a collection of his poems that delve into an eternal literary theme – agony and pain.

Titled Pain, the book contains 51 poems, most of which were written in the past three years.

“Writing poems is a very personal thing. When ideas come to my mind, I note them down,” Zhao said during a book tour in Beijing last month.

“Some ideas appear during my travels on planes and trains, and some come to me in my dreams.”

Zhao’s collection includes a poem from his unpublished writings of 1982, in which he writes: “Joy is the shell, but pain is the essence.”

Born in Shanghai in 1952, like many from his generation, Zhao experienced the “cultural revolution” (1966-76) when normal college education was interrupted in the country.

In those years, he was sent to work on the farmlands of Chongming, an island county on the Yangtze River. The work exhausted him and the lack of books or companions bored him. It was then that he started to write – both prose and poetry. Read more

Source: China Daily

The most beautiful book revealed in China

Twenty-five kinds of books, including Shuimo Xiju (Opera in Ink and Wash) and The Empire of the Written Symbol for Children, from 18 publishers nationwide have been called “the most beautiful book in China” on Monday, and will compete for “the most beautiful book in the world” in 2017.

The event “the most beautiful book in China” was established in 2003 and hosted by the Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau. The event invites top book designers worldwide as judges to select the most beautifully designed books which reflects the spirit and essence of Chinese culture.

The “the most beautiful book in China” selection has become a major platform leading fine Chinese book designs and designers to the world. So far, 15 kinds of Chinese books have been honored the laurel of “the most beautiful book in the world”.

Opera in Ink and Wash is a book which introduces Chinese opera art through ink and wash paintings. The four parts of the book are wrapped up with different colored papers, resembling curtains on the opera stage. The illustrations in the book reveal the traditional Chinese esthetics and pay respect to the Chinese opera art. The Book of Bugs, designed by Zhu Yingchun, which wins multiple awards including this time, has no characters at all in the whole book, and only has the trail of bugs crawling by with ink on their feet. The book is like a calligraphic album of the nature, which is quite interesting. Read more

China: Small angle, wide view – The world of Wang Anyi

Focusing on the everyday people living in the margin of the metropolis, writer Wang Anyi pays tribute to the country and its huge social transformation, cutting only a slice from the hustle of city life: China Daily

Wang AnyiIn a quiet corner in the heart of downtown Shanghai, a handsome young man with a stutter reaches a tacit friendship with an elderly button-shop owner, who finds it difficult to speak long sentences after a stroke and has opened the shop to sustain himself and kill time.

Both struggle to get others to understand them, but they come to know each others’ hearts through simple words. Read more

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