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Shanghai Baby Book Review Summary

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Shanghai Baby

This novel centres around the insular and narcissistic world of Nikki or Coco, as she wants to be known, for Coco Chanel. Coco is a brashly unconventional young Chinese woman who wants to be a writer. The city of Shanghai is presented almost as if it were a major character. It is every bit as full of contrasts as the assembly of human characters – East and West, full of local charm and yet greedily receptive to global influences. She gives up her promising career as a journalist to pursue her dream of being a writer.

To the mortification of her parents, she moves in with an aimless, sensitive young man, Tian Tian. Tian Tian is devoted to her, and in him, she finds her lovey buddy. However, he is unable to provide her with what she wants physically. He becomes addicted to morphine and she saves him by committing him into a rehabilitation center. She meets and has an affair with Mark, a married German man working in Shanghai, who is the opposite of Tian Tian. He provides her with the physical satisfaction she needs but is mentally crude. When Tian Tian finds out, he relapses into self-destruction.
The review of this Book prepared by linn





Pocket, Sep 2001, 24.00, 263 pp.
ISBN: 0743421566

    Friends of twenty-five year old Shanghai waitress Nikki call her “Coco” after her second greatest idol Coco Chanel. Calling her Henry for her number one hero Henry Miller seems a bit out of place for the precocious young lady. Nikki falls in love with artist Tian Tian and quickly moves in with the disconsolate man over the objections of her old fashion parents.

    However, Tian Tian dives deeper into drugs leaving him more despondent, but it is his impotency that drives Nikki crazy. Refusing to allow love to interfere with sex, Nikki begins having an affair with married German businessman Mark. Quickly, Nikki finds herself straddling two worlds. One centers on values and love; the other focuses on lust and deception.

    The Chinese government burned this romance novel, which lead to a western feeding frenzy. However, the reactions remind this reviewer of the movie I Am Curious Yellow whose message was buried under an avalanche of publicity over a sex scene that led to big sales for a picture this reviewer found boring. SHANGHAI BABY had possibilities between the culture clashes within China and with the western intrusion including the Net, but the characters never come across as deep enough to pull off the debate over the varying values. Still, readers get a glimpse of a different kind of China that makes Wei Hui's tale worth reading for those who enjoy a clash of cultures that a reader will never drown in its plot.

Harriet Klausner
The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner








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Chapter Analysis of Shanghai Baby

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Plot & Themes

Love Triangles/Polygons    -   Yes What kind:    -   one woman-two men Inner struggle subplot    -   Yes Disability or addiction?    -   drugs

Main Male Character

Profession/status:    -   artist Age/status:    -   20's-30's If he's not white he must be...    -   oriental Unusual characteristics?    -   Physically sick    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin    -   Very naive/shy - Doesn't know where to put weiner

Main Female Character

Age/status:    -   20's-30's Profession/status:    -   writer    -   entertainer If she's not white she must be...    -   oriental

Setting

Asia/Pacific    -   Yes Asian country:    -   China

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death What % of story is romance related?    -   60%    -   nearly 100% How explicit is the sex?    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   licking    -   actual description of sex    -   Boob talk    -   Vagia talk    -   Weiner talk Focus of story    -   Her    -   equally on him and her How much dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Wei Hui Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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