About this book
This elegant novel breaks barriers with its brutally honest account of the courtesan culture in 1930s Shanghai. In a searing portrayal of women as commodities, we trace the journey of Song Anyi, a rebellious young woman thwarted by her conventional family, the social mores of the day and the war with the Japanese that is about to engulf China.
About the author
Karen Kao is the child of Chinese immigrants who settled in the United States in the 1950s.
As a young lawyer in Washington, DC, she fell in love with a Dutchman. Karen moved with him to Amsterdam. Unfazed by a new language, culture and legal system, she launched a second career as a high-flying corporate lawyer.
In 2011, she abandoned the law for a third career: a return to her love of writing and the stories she heard as a child of Old Shanghai. She writes: ‘My heart belongs to Shanghai. It’s the star of my novel.’
Kao is a former student of Lan Samantha Chang from the Paris Writers Workshop (2013) and of Yiyun Li at the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference (2016).