"A good story"
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 fashioned 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
The Chinese government burned this novel, which led 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.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted August 31, 2001