Shanghai Baby

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It is also nearly impossible to distinguish between the author Weihui and the protagonist Coco, since they are somehow the same. If I talk of the one, the other is never far away. Love and Sex Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation a desire that extends to an infinite number of women but in the desire for shared sleep a desire limited to one woman. While Kundera speaks of men in the text, Weihui spins this definition of love and sex around her protagonist Coco.

Judging by this definition, Coco loves Tian Tian and wants to share sleep with him every day see the meaning of his name, too , but only has desire for Mark with whom she copulates. I think this was the theory with which Coco started into the story, since texts like, Tian Tian was my only love, a gift from God , throughout the most part of the book imply this. He smokes drugs and is disengaged from the world. In the end, though, when Mark has to leave for Germany, Coco comes to see that she had fooled herself, that somewhere down the road she had fallen for Mark.


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I want to add another important thought here. The first sex scenes with Mark are a disaster on several levels for me and left me feeling extremely upset, which of course comes in part from the fact that Coco is cheating on her boyfriend. The description is slightly explicit, but felt not erotic to me, because it was emotionally rather detached.

Since Coco is trying to make a point of there being a difference between love and sex, this was mirrored in the writing, too. Not every woman adores a brute.

Shanghai Baby

Scenes like this enable rape culture. What in the actual FUCK!!! I mean… Are you fucking serious? That is the anti-definition of rape, you silly cow. Gender, Misogyny and Misandry Men will pursue the object of their desire even in front of another woman. This is only one example of how the author uses stereotypes about more or less everything, but especially women and men.

She is openly misandrous, like in this quote, always judging and devaluing men as a whole species. In this the misogyny is a lot more subtle. Apart from that, there are several statements about how men and women relate to each other. It seems to me that there is a huge gap that divides them. My whole existence is just a farce. I should disappear. Tian Tian is a very tragic figure. I believe he can love and I believe he loves Coco more than anything.

It is obviously a taboo topic, but if you only hint at everything and leave me to guess, that is nothing I really appreciate. Seriously, that must be painful. I was very much surprised about that revelation near the end of the book, because before that bursting scene it was never mentioned that he can get an erection or have an orgasm or even wants to. Apart from that… The definition that sex is only sex if you have penetration is something I do not agree with. Now this just seems not plausible to me.

That is probably why I was searching for reasons myself. Again, I am sure he loved her, and that she was essential to him. I did not see any physical attraction, though. Coco says somewhere in the book that Tian Tian is wary of gays and bisexuals, and I believe this can be quite common if you oppress that part of your identity. I dunno, this might be also very far fetched and I am not saying it is so. But the reason giving in the book is just as unproved.

In the male world being able to perform sex normally is as important as life itself, any shortcoming is an unbearable pain. I believe that this might be true, but that the author somehow does not lay any blame on herself. She showed him exactly that. That he could not satisfy her, that he was less of a man. And maybe she blames herself, but all I can see is that she justifies her cheating because she is sexually frustrated for which she blames Tian Tian. She is still relying on a man to give her pleasure and satisfaction.

Writing, Being an Author Once my writing had become part of our shared life, it was no longer purely an act of writing. It became associated with our passion and fidelity, and with our unbearable lightness of being too. For some reason, not only with Tian Tian, the author draws an inherent connection between her writing and her relationships. This might have its origin in our different cultures, but I have a hard time to understand this and this logic is rather foreign to me.

Identity So… I could just add these quotes here and move on. Like me, my heroine did not want to lead an ordinary life. She is ambitious, has two men, and lives on an emotional roller coaster. Who am I? These are the words that conclude Shanghai Baby. In these quotes we find a lot of truths and even self-awareness, but it the book ends on an open note. The question of identity does not get solved, and this is something I actually like, because identity is fluent and blurred. However, I chose to end with Her life would always be a revolver of desire, capable of going off and killing at any moment.

She went off and someone is dead. I just want to point out that Coco is responsible, too. Final Evaluation All we need do is pick up a pen and tell our own stories. But this is what I got instead: I reached beyond the limitations of my own life and tried to write about grander, even universal themes. And this is exactly what killed the book for me.

Shanghai Baby is a book full of assumptions, judgements, and pretended truths. That makes it absolutely useless in my eyes. The author draws conclusions, based on her own life and limited experience, that I would have liked to make myself or more often made not. This has really nothing to do with the rest… His penis moved like a corkscrew. Um… Really? I have a hard time picturing that without LMAO. There was an odd spaciousness to the room, like a wide meadow. We kissed, and our bodies grew increasingly lighter and smaller until the fantasy of a tiny flower bud occupied every inch of our brains.

The writing was a bit flowery and repetitive for my taste.


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Coco herself describes her writing as Asian, narrow and delicate, melancholy as well as comic and naive , and I think she is right. My rating See… This is complicated. I had to read this book for my sinology studies, and I was actually thrilled about this. I do so wish I could have done this with Shanghai Baby. While I can see all the things I have written in this review from a somehow distanced point of view and see the good and interesting stuff, I did not enjoy the book, I hated it.

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So, I am giving this book a selfish rating of 1 star, based on the simple statement that I did not like it. And this could have ended here, were it not for the possibility to give a 0. At the airport Flying Apple yes, that's a name and I kissed a hasty goodbye that left my lips wet. Many gay or bisexual men have a special, fuzzy sort of tenderness that one finds in small animals, but I'm always aware of the Aids risk. As Alanis Morisette put it: I'm sick but I'm pretty, baby. If she had said that she personally was feeling that way, maybe… But to make a stereotypical truth out of this… No. That is were I draw the line.

Feb 08, Ivana rated it it was ok. Much of the praise this novel got is undeserved. I actually agree with what the Chinese government had to say about it, how it was an imitation of the west or something like that. You could say that the two have something in common While Coco Chanel was famous for her relationship with a Nazi o Much of the praise this novel got is undeserved. You could say that the two have something in common While Coco Chanel was famous for her relationship with a Nazi officer, Coco in the novel fantasizes about her German lover dressed in Nazi uniform.

Maybe she was trying to reference Sylvia Plath or something- it did not work out. Anyway, Coco is cheating her loving but impotent boyfriend with this German guy and it creates the love triangle much of the story is focused on. It doesn't work that way, someone should tell her so. I was thinking of giving it one star I did feel that it had potential. I should start by saying I am not the target audience for this, and also by recording my surprise that this was a banned book in China. Why was is banned? For its self-indulgence? Although already announced in the blurb on the back as semi-autobiographical, it is a pretty thin veil being cast over the author, who clearly is for a large part the main character.

Pretty author, nicknamed Coco after Coco Chanel who everybody fawns over, quits her job as a waitress to live with artist boyfriend and c I should start by saying I am not the target audience for this, and also by recording my surprise that this was a banned book in China.

Pretty author, nicknamed Coco after Coco Chanel who everybody fawns over, quits her job as a waitress to live with artist boyfriend and concentrate on writing her novel. Artist boyfriend is reclusive, impotent and spiralling downwards with drug abuse. Pretty author hooks up with German man who cheats on his wife to have sex with Coco, which she keeps from her boyfriend to 'protect' him.

It comes across an immature story, narcissistic and self-indulgent and pretty weak. This could have a lot to do with the translation - who would know. Undoubtedly made more popular for being banned. Two stars. Jan 15, Antonomasia added it Shelves: china , decades , decades , women-in-translation , If this had been published here in , not , it would have been called a hipster novel. There are even vists to a therapist.

Shanghai If this had been published here in , not , it would have been called a hipster novel. Shanghai Baby 's direct equivalent set in any English-speaking country would have had little interest for me now. I've had this book hanging around for well over ten years; the characters might have been more immediately interesting when I was their age - however age brings more insight. Much of what did make Shanghai Baby intriguing was cultural difference - tourism - the touchstones of Chinese and other SE Asian writers and pop stars and films, many barely known to me, and various social attitudes, opinions, metaphors, vintage obsessions, prejudices and old wives' tales that diverge from those in European and American literature.

Someone better-versed in contemporary Chinese writing may not find those quite so interesting - but chances are they've already read this book. A few Chinese writers e. Eileen Chang are mentioned, but the narrator-novelist Coco most admires Western authors and culture. Her no. She's driven by lust as much as love, she never really loses her cool, she never begs or gets unrequitedly desperate, and ultimately the men seem to revolve around her rather than the other way round.

The novelty of this says more about how women are portrayed in novels by authors of all sexes than about real people, plenty of whom behave that way. Her deep spiritual love for Tian Tian, her depressed, entirely impotent and increasingly druggy artist boyfriend and fellow fan of decadent Western literature , and her lusty, low-attachment secret affair with a German executive resembles a virgin-whore dichotomy.

The affair seems to happen because her life with Tian Tian doesn't satisfy the image in her head of how a relationship between people like them should be - or her high sex drive. But she really cares for Tian Tian and when the chips are down he's her priority primary? Her ease in having two relationships simultaneously would fit better with Bohemian crowds in Western novels where monogamy isn't de rigueur in the first place.

Does the original Chinese word have the same negative and pathological connotations? Writing in the late 90s, Coco doesn't like computers, but her overblown fantasies and image-hyper-consciousness are tailor made for the social networking age: a road show throughout China to promote the book. I'd wear a backless black dress and a grotesque mask. The floor would be littered with confetti made from my book and everyone would be dancing madly on it. This is billed as "a story of sex, love and self-discovery", and sure enough Coco does change somewhat.

A bit more sensible and responsible, more writing and less Walter Mitty-ing, but her emotional expression doesn't lose its drama, and she's still as sexual as ever. One feature was disappointing, although it fitted with her awareness of the conventions of femininity: view spoiler [that at the end she concluded she was in love with Mark after all and that women can't have much sex with a man without falling in love with him IME False, not if you don't have enough in common and you can never find enough to talk about for a full relationship to make sense to either of you.

Although a handful of scenes perhaps invite mockery. The narrator-author's egotism and economically comfortable, apparently apolitical artistic life do appear samey in the context of similar English-language novels - although the reversal of sex roles in the narration is still fresh and very welcome. She hasn't quite got to the point of considering that the men are her muses - something I'd really like to see done in novels and films - but the implication is arguably there.

However, the selling-point of Shanghai Baby was that it was banned - 40 copies publicly burned - in China, for being "decadent and debauched". This aspect of the book seems to have made little impression on the GR reviews I've read, but it's worth looking at it from a different perspective than just another novel about narcissistic twentysomethings. It's 'Fight For Your Right To Party' in a serious context, that there should be a freedom and choice to concentrate on pleasure and art, including art the government disapproves of - not just to be a good little worker bee.

And others who aren't part of it should be able to know about possibilities other than the daily grind. Some readers might find the book more interesting if the author related to a tradition of similar thought from her native country and region, if there is one, but it's hardly surprising that a person would reject local associations when living under a repressive regime, in favour of those from freer places. Shanghai Baby says almost nothing directly about politics - but that's how and why it is political. Said impotent man develops a drug habit while the German moves back to Berlin. What is she really left with?

Of course, the author leaves us with a "who I'm I? From the reviews on here, one would describe the protagonist "Coco" to be a heartless, selfish, and deeply narcissistic charac THE GOOD: The protagonist falls in love with an impotent man but finds a "sexy, Western man" to fill her "void". From the reviews on here, one would describe the protagonist "Coco" to be a heartless, selfish, and deeply narcissistic character. But hey, who I'm I to judge? She can do whatever she wants to. The greatest joy I received from this book was reading about her adventures and escapades in a non-judgmental sort of way, i.

A story you should enjoy because you know it will not last very long hence why you need to soak up every moment. THE BAD: The character I could really relate to, however, was not the woman willing to give up her body and soul to find her one true love or is it simply to satisfy her?

One being totally impotent, but loving and gentle and dependent while the other being totally carnal and independent he is married after all. Both representing what a complete man ideally should be able to provide such a woman, but cut in half. Knowing my own imperfections and the many times I've let women down, I could clearly see myself as either as these two. Once again I was not able to judge them.

Meh, even ordinary is a word I'd use. There is nothing truly exciting but it was interesting for me none the less since it was set in Shanghai, China a city and country I am fascinated with. Apr 07, Jennie rated it liked it. Wei Hui is Shanghai-ese spoiled spoiled spoiled who can think of nothing better to do, so she decides to become a writer, and because she's a writer, she must be tortured!

It's so hard being her! It's so hard living the life of luxury and not having to care! Don't you feel sorry for her? Because she wants you to. Also, Wei Hui most pretentious. And her writing, ugh. Tortured similes litter every page. Also, the translator did some weird things, such as " 'You're looking piaoliang [cute],' I said. I mean, piaoliang isn't some weird word that doesn't fully translate into English. She could have just said "You're looking cute". Also, from the context more than I've provided here , we don't really need piaoliang defined--it was fairly obvious what it meant.

So, why? She incessantly name drops to make herself sound smart and educated, but it doesn't work because she's really neither at least, by Western standards, maybe by Chinese standards, I don't know. Check out the horribleness of this next paragraph, not only in style and but also sheer ignorance which was not meant ironically! Many gay or bisexual men have a special, fuzzy sort of tenderness that one finds in small animals, but I'm always aware of the AIDS risk. As Alanis Morissette put it, 'I'm sick but I'm pretty, baby'. I grabbed this book off of a free book exchange shelf thinking it was Shanghai Girls but decided to read it anyway.

Big mistake! Granted this book was written in and was almost banned by the Chinese government because of it's sensuality, it was not worth being printed. This was a very shallow twenty-something version of Sex in the City without the best friends. The only parts that were interesting were brief commentaries on western expats. I found the narrator obsessed with all things weste I grabbed this book off of a free book exchange shelf thinking it was Shanghai Girls but decided to read it anyway.

“The Shanghai Baby” – The True Story Behind One of History’s Most Dramatic Photos

I found the narrator obsessed with all things western but then hypocritical of the west at the same time. This quote from the book, page , sums it up pretty well: "My friends and I, a tribe of the sons and daughters of the well-to-do, often used exaggerated and outre language to manufacture life-threatening pleasure. A swarm of affectionate, mutually dependent little fireflies, we devoured the wings of imagination and had little contact with reality.

I bought this book because it seemed to have the potencial of being an interesting story; but at the end it only showed to be a very pretentious novel written by a pseudo-feminist and pseudo-intellectual narcissist woman. Feb 04, Debbie rated it it was ok. This book was so odd. It is touted as being banned because it was "too sensual".


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  7. I found it more about a strange, narcissistic woman and her very needy childlike boyfriend. Not great, but I finished it. Mar 30, Stella rated it it was ok. What a strange book.. Jan 22, Ika rated it really liked it. Nikki or Coco is a writer in China which was not popular enough. She is a tough woman who lives on her own.

    She had a boyfriend named Tian Tian and she lived together with him. Tian Tian was a nice weak loyal guy who loved painting. They both lived happily although Tian Tian could not give her offspring. He was impotent and Coco explained it really clear that they do not mind with that. Coco has many great friends beside her. They sometimes asked Coco hang out and spend the night together.

    Coco Nikki or Coco is a writer in China which was not popular enough. Coco has an ordinary day life but she has an exciting nightlife. One day, Coco met Mark. He is a Germany guy with a beautiful wife Eva and fabulous son. He has normal body which could satisfy Coco on bed. They sometimes meet and make love without any feeling. Neither does he, Coco does not love Mark. Tian Tian and Eva did not know about their habitual activity at all. So they kept doing it. Tian Tian should go abroad to learn more about painting.

    He should stay there, at the south, about two month. Coco encouraged him to go and promised him that she would be alright. But the facts, she missed him a lot. Tian Tian also could not live far away from Coco. He was addicted by drugs then. Coco felt very miserable. She regretted the day when she met Mark. She deceived Tian Tian and felt repellent about herself. She went south visiting Tian Tian but she seemed could not help him anymore. In the end of the story, Tian Tian died and Mark went back to Germany with his family.

    And Coco, she finally finished her novel. She still has many books to write also. She wrote her dreams, her mind and her opinion about life. She is the first Chinese writer who describes state of affairs wildly and clearly it is written on the testimony about this book. She exposes her sexual life and her social interactions without any boundaries. She describes it through Coco.

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    Wei Hui could write explicitly about life and sex. That might be the reason why her But as the flowers bloom, her books glows and touch the heart of many people outside. The official Xinhau Shin-wha news agency praised the book as a hugely popular account of the lives of China's "new generation". But then everything changed. The Chinese Government condemned the book as a piece of western decadence - which it certainly is. The book was banned. Two key officials of the publishing company were sacked, and thousands of copies were burnt. Wei Hui sees herself as the voice of a new generation - of a new kind of woman - tired of the old restrictions, and lured by the individualism and the merchandise of the west.

    She is quite open about her desire to become famous - a desire she is well on her way to realising. Everything flows unruffled and no climax. No one ever knows where it would end but by the time it ends, you would know it. Sep 14, Patty rated it liked it. I bought this book because of the controversy and upon reading it I understand why this book caused such a stir in China that drove them to burn the copies. Personally I found the topic quite ordinary, drug addiction and female sexuality is something that an army of Indonesian young writers love to discuss since the fall of New Order era.

    But given the fact that this is a book from a young woman in a country as repressed as China, I gotta give it some credit. The author was very brave. She spoke I bought this book because of the controversy and upon reading it I understand why this book caused such a stir in China that drove them to burn the copies.

    She spoke openly and honestly and some of it was very raw I felt like peeping into someone's bedroom and caught some very private moments. I could not re-read it because doing so would make me feel that I've converted into perversion. However, I did wonder about one thing, is the courage to discuss female sexuality is really what signifies a country's freedom of speech? It gets a bit tiring and how I long for a brilliant female detective writer :p Situated by the changing Shanghai, Coco started to write her second novel.

    Coco was formerly a journalist, but resigned after she launched her first novel. By encouraging her boy friend, Tian Tian, a painter, Coco felt self confidence to write her novel. Tian Tian saw that Coco was very talented at writing.

    by Wei Hui, translated from the Mandarin by Bruce Humes (Pocket; $24)

    This novel also described that Shanghai was a changing city. Where modern met old. And East met West. That's why Shanghai is always interesting city in the world. In the wilderness of Shanghai, Situated by the changing Shanghai, Coco started to write her second novel. In the wilderness of Shanghai, Cocoin the process of her second novel writing--showed the "real life" of Shanghai: free sex, drugs, alchohol, love affairs, etc.

    As a "brave" novel, Shanghai Baby was banned in China. Well, she is a good author.. I don't really like it.. It's still a good read incase you have nothing else to read or you can borrow this from your friend. It was originally published in China in The English translation was published in The novel's narrator and main character, supposedly a semi-fictionalised version of the author, is a year-old Shanghainese woman named Nikki, or Coco to her friends, a waitress in a Shanghai cafe.

    Coco is trying to write a first novel after previous success publishing a collection of sexually frank short stories. At the cafe, Coco meets a young man, Tian Tian, for whom she feels extreme tenderness and love. However, Tian Tian — an artist — is reclusive, impotent and an increasing frequent user of drugs.

    Despite parental objections, Coco moves in with him, leaves her job and throws herself into writing. Shortly afterwards Coco meets Mark, a married German expatriate businessman living in Shanghai. The two are uncontrollably attracted to one another and begin a highly charged, physical affair. Torn between her two lovers, and tormented by her deceit, her unfinished novel and the conflicting feelings involved in love, lust and betrayal, Coco tries to understand who she is and what she wants from life.

    Twenty-five-year-old Nikki - whose friends call her Coco after Coco Chanel — is a young Shanghainese writer, fascinated by the West and Western culture. A graduate of Fudan University , Coco has written a successful collection of short stories, The Shriek of the Butterfly , which, unusually for China, have sexually frank themes written from a woman's point of view. Coco now wants to embark upon her first novel, a semi-autobiographical work set in Shanghai.

    The novel opens with Coco working as a waitress in a Shanghai cafe. Whilst at work, she meets a sensitive-looking young man, Tian Tian. Coco and Tian Tian start an intense relationship and Coco leaves her parents' home to move in with her new boyfriend. However, Tian Tian, a talented young artist, is extremely anxious and shy. His mother left him in the care of his grandmother when he was a small boy, after his father mysteriously died. Tian Tian now refuses to speak to his mother, who is living in Spain, although he lives off the money she sends him.

    Tian Tian's problems cause him to be completely impotent and unable to consummate his relationship with Coco. Coco soon meets another man — a large, blond German named Mark who is living and working in Shanghai. Coco and Mark are intensely attracted to each other, and start an affair , despite the fact that Mark is married and Coco is living with Tian Tian.


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