Shanghai Quartet: The Crossings of Four Women of China
Steeped in the Chinese tradition of recording family tales and keeping the family register, Shanghai Quartet is a moving and powerful memoir describing the lives of four women of China -- the author, her grandmother, her nanny, and her mother. The complex emotional landscape of the book centres around Min-Zhan Lu -- the immigrant who has crossed over to America, and our narrator. In each of four sections, she tells us the intergenerational story of these women, each of whom crosses over time, history, custom and geography during her lifetime. The overall frame of the book is the author reciting the family stories to her daughter -- partly to heal the complex divisions between them, partly to understand her own past and how it has shaped her identity. But Shanghai Quartet is much more than just a vehicle for a mother-daughter dialogue. This book exposes a less-than-familiar picture of Chinese life in the last century. As we come to know Min-Zhan Lu's family, we find credible lives, not propaganda or stereotypes. The book is a first hand account of: a Chinese Catholic family in Shanghai; the events of the Cultural Revolution; the decision to come to America and be separated from family; and the next, postmodern generation of young Chinese abroad. Shanghai Quartet is part of the Emerging Writers in Creative Nonfiction series.
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