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Latest Review: "French Concession" by Xiao Bai

The latest addition to our Reviews section by Emily Goedde on French Concession by Xiao Bai, translated by Chenxin Jiang and published by Harper Collins.

Emily Goedde received an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa. She is now a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan.

Here’s the beginning of Emily’s review:

Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge in expensive European hotels.

The woman is Therese Irxmayer, aka Lady Holly, an arms dealer with a sharp mind, a history and a great derriere. The novel’s genesis rests in her mysterious presence. Concession is a fantastic romantic-sexy-spy novel, but it is also a deeply considered psychological exploration of real-life events in colonial Shanghai. According to Xiao Bai, while he was in the early stages of researching the novel, he happened upon this line in the Shanghai Municipal Archives:

It was the White Russian Woman who first attracted Lieutenant Sarly’s attention.

For the rest of the review, go here.



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