I have a new post up at the LA Review of Books China Blog, about a new(ish) book of translated short stories by 1930s Shanghai author Mu Shiying. Mu was a dashing young man who frequented the city’s nightclubs and wrote dazzling works about the excesses of the age, much like F. Scott Fitzgerald did in the United States:
Both [Mu and Fitzgerald] served as chroniclers for their class and their generation, but neither wrote uncomplicated celebrations of nights spent foxtrotting and days spent recovering. In fact, there’s a sense of world-weariness and dutifulness to those nightclub visits, which comes through most clearly in Mu’s story “Black Peony”: evenings at cabarets were once novel and exciting, but have settled into a social obligation for the narrator, who feels “weighed down by life.” And the complex negotiations involved in romancing Shanghai’s “modern girls” vexes all of the male characters, who frequently find themselves treated as playthings by duplicitous women.
Read the whole thing here.
In other news, I flew from Shanghai to New York on Tuesday night and worked my first day at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations on Wednesday. I share an office and am lucky enough to have the desk with the view:
But I have my computer facing away from the window so I won’t get too distracted by the loveliness of New York!