The six stories in this dazzling introduction to Eileen Chang, one of China's most admired modern writers, will sweep you up with their wayward characters, shifting power dynamics, and lush sensory detail. Chang writes about romance and desire, about trickery and deceit, about exerting one's will despite painfully restrictive cultural pressures. Set in 1940s Hong Kong and Shanghai during a time of great change and upheaval, her stories will leave you absolutely reeling. Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Eileen Chang is one of the great writers of twentieth-century China, where she enjoys a passionate following both on the mainland and in Taiwan. At the heart of Chang’s achievement is her short fiction—tales of love, longing, and the shifting and endlessly treacherous shoals of family life. Written when Chang was still in her twenties, these extraordinary stories combine an unsettled, probing, utterly contemporary sensibility, keenly alert to sexual politics and psychological ambiguity, with an intense lyricism that echoes the classics of Chinese literature.
Love in a Fallen City, the first collection in English of this dazzling body of work, introduces American readers to the stark and glamorous vision of a modern master.
"Chang died in 1995 in Los Angeles, having emigrated to the U.S. in 1955 at 35. These six stories, most available in English for the first time, were published to acclaim in China and Hong Kong in the '40s; they explore, bewitchingly, the myriad ways love overcomes (or doesn't) the intense social constraints of time and place. In the compact 'Sealed Off,' Shanghai briefly shuts down in defense against a blockade, and strangers on a tram allow their inner yearnings to surface, with consequences at once momentous and static. In the layered title story, a couple taunt each other with false estrangements as they fall in love, then are forced to confront one another directly through wartime privations. The startling novella The Golden Cangue, told with upstairs-downstairs shifts in perspective, fugues around a wife, resentful of her disabled husband and reviled by his family, who seeks reassurance in opium. In these eloquent tragedies, Chang plunges readers in medias res. She expertly burdens her characters with failed dreams and stifled possibilities, leads them to push aside the heavy curtains of family and convention, and then shows them a yawning emptiness. Their different responses are brilliantly underplayed and fascinating." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"With language as sharp as a knife edge, Eileen Chang cut open a huge divide in Chinese culture, between the classical patriarchy and our troubled modernity. She was one of the very few who could see on both sides of that divide, into which her heroines so often disappeared. Eileen Chang is the fallen angel of Chinese literature, and now, with these excellent new translations, English readers can discover why she is so revered by Chinese readers everywhere." Ang Lee
"This posthumous collection contains six vibrant stories that depict life in post-WW II China...Evocative and vivid, Chang’s stories bristle with equal parts passion and resentment." Booklist
"Eileen Chang is no doubt the most talented woman writer in 20th century China." David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University
"One of the most popular Chinese writers of the 20th century and a woman who made a major contribution to the cultural life of Shanghai." Shanghai Daily
"[A] giant of modern Chinese literature." New York Times
"Chang's writing realistically captures the human heart and confronts the trappings of cultural expectations." Library Journal
"A major rediscovery." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Eileen Chang (1920-1995) is a legendary figure in Chinese literature and the author of the essay collection Written on Water (Columbia, 2005) and the novels The Rogue of the North and The Rice-Sprout Song: A Novel of Modern China.