10 books like Midnight

By Mao Dun,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Midnight. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Man's Fate

By Andre Malraux,

Book cover of Man's Fate

Malraux’s novel is perhaps the most intricately atmospheric novel of old Shanghai, written in 1933 but set amid the 1927 Lefist Uprising and the massacre that follows. Malraux weaves the stories of Chinese revolutionaries, Russian agents, stateless refugees, foreign businessmen and poor workers into a portrait of the city. It is also a book that shows Shanghai as the most modern city in Asia between the world wars – neon, traffic jams, jazz….

Man's Fate

By Andre Malraux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Man's Fate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shanghai, 1927, and revolution is in the air. As the city becomes caught up in violence and bloodshed, four people's lives are altered inexorably: idealist and intellectual Kyo Gisors, one of the leaders of the Communist insurrection, who is also trying to deal with his own marital strife; Ch'en Ta Erh, an assassin and terrorist brutalized by killing; Baron de Clappique, a French gambler, opium dealer and gun runner; and Russian revolutionary Katov, who calmly watches events unfold, until he has to make the ultimate sacrifice. Each of these men must try to resolve their personal conflicts amid political turmoil,…


Lust, Caution

By Eileen Chang,

Book cover of Lust, Caution: The Story

Set in wartime Shanghai in a time of espionage, betrayal, and murder. Chang knew of what she wrote – her own husband worked for the pro-Japanese collaborationist Chinese government of Wang Jing-wei and was considered a traitor. It’s a wartime novel where bombs don’t fall and soldiers don’t fight but everyone, including the main character of Wang Chia-chih (based on a real-life Nationalist Chinese spy Zheng Pingru, but with a fair amount of Chang herself thrown in), is faced with issues of resistance, collaboration, fighting back or staying quiet. A novella, but no less a masterpiece for being short.

Lust, Caution

By Eileen Chang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lust, Caution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major motion picture (2007) from Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain): an intensely passionate story of love and espionage, set in Shanghai during World War II.

In the midst of the Japanese occupation of China and Hong Kong, two lives become intertwined: Wong Chia Chi, a young student active in the resistance, and Mr. Yee, a powerful political figure who works for the Japanese occupational government. As these two move deftly between Shanghai’s tea parties and secret interrogations, they become embroiled in the complicated politics of wartime—and in a mutual attraction that may be more…


Shanghai

By Riichi Yokomitsu,

Book cover of Shanghai: A Novel

Riichi, an experimental, modernist Japanese writer, was perfectly suited to Shanghai, always an experimental modernist city. Shanghai was written after the author’s extended sojourn in Shanghai in the late 1920s. It is a fever dream of a city, cosmopolitan, deracinated, and louche yet almost impossible to grasp. Riichi’s Shanghai is not totally naturalistic yet his novel amazingly embodies the very spirit of old Shanghai.

Shanghai

By Riichi Yokomitsu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shanghai as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published serially between 1928 and 1931, Shanghai tells the story of a group of Japanese expatriates living in the International Settlement at the time of the May 30th Incident of 1925. The personal lives and desires of the main characters play out against a historical backdrop of labor unrest, factional intrigue, colonialist ambitions, and racial politics.

The author, Yokomitsu Riichi (1898-1947), was an essayist, writer, and critical theorist who became one of the most powerful and influential literary figures in Japan during the 1920s and 1930s. He looked to contemporary avant-garde movements in Europe -- Dadaism, futurism, surrealism, expressionism --…


Mu Shiying

By Andrew David Field,

Book cover of Mu Shiying: China's Lost Modernist

This is a collection of short stories by one of China’s modernist masters, mostly translated by Andrew Field. However, Mu is largely forgotten and rarely read now either in Chinese or in translation. The reason is simple – he chose to collaborate with the Japanese in World War Two. Yet his short stories are so emblematic of old Shanghai, its dancehalls and bars; nightclubs and bordellos. Mu moves through a Shanghai demimonde of Chinese and foreigners, gangsters and tycoons, imported whisky, and Shanghainese cuisine. His writing is the epitome of the nighttime neon-lit old photography of the city we are so familiar with; his characters those we see on the old pre-war black and white movies from Shanghai’s film studios.

Mu Shiying

By Andrew David Field,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mu Shiying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shanghai’s “Literary Comet” When the avant-garde writer Mu Shiying was assassinated in 1940, China lost one of its greatest modernist writers while Shanghai lost its most detailed chronicler of the city’s Jazz-Age nightlife. Mu’s highly original stream-of-consciousness approach to short story writing deserves to be re-examined and re-read. As Andrew Field argues, Mu advanced modern Chinese writing beyond the vernacular expression of May Fourth giants Lu Xun and Lao She to reveal even more starkly the alienation of a city trapped between the forces of civilization and barbarism in the 1930s. Mu Shiying China’s Lost Modernist includes translations of six…


Phantom Shanghai

By Greg Girard,

Book cover of Phantom Shanghai

Shanghai is a city that fascinates and repels both Chinese and foreigners alike. The harsh exploitative past and the contemporary resurgence embrace a sometimes unsettling mix of wealth, style and brutality. The architectural reshaping of the megalopolis of more than 20 million souls reflects this context and no one has captured it better than Greg Girard, a Canadian photojournalist who spent much of his career in Asia. The twilight of eerie neon tones in the smoggy half-demolished city is fertile territory for this image maker chasing the phantoms.

Phantom Shanghai

By Greg Girard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Phantom Shanghai as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Shanghai—a city in the process of dismantling its history to accommodate China’s new cosmopolitan vision of itself.”—Greg Girard

As Shanghai modernizes and seeks acceptance as an international city, buildings and neighborhoods that were once preserved simply by lack of intervention are now being purposefully demolished.

Phantom Shanghai is a spectacular look at a Shanghai that won’t survive the vision the country has for itself. For the past five years, Greg Girard has been photographing the city’s buildings, shops, homes, and neighborhoods. This stunning photographic journey is a look at present-day Shanghai, where politically inspired neglect meets politically inspired development.

Greg…


The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai

By Isham Cook,

Book cover of The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai

Decidedly contemporary China’s most provocative foreign writer, Isham Cook has spent the past decade in Beijing penning books about taboo subject matter that heretofore few expat authors have been willing to publicly reveal about their lives here. Specifically, prurience and libertine excess. I liken him as a reincarnated Edmund Backhouse with a hint of Henry Miller and a dash of de Sade. In his putative memoir The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai, Cook reimagines himself as an Asian woman in order to psychoanalyze his past relationships with Chinese girlfriends whom he tormented with polyamory. If nothing else, read this for its sheer audacity.

The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai

By Isham Cook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An erotic thriller of "ambitious, Faulknerian structure" (Kirkus Reviews)exposing what's really going on with relationships in China today.

It is the Shanghai of courtesans and concubines, danger and decadence, updated to 2020. American expat author Isham Cook has disappeared. His last known history is chronicled by an exotic woman who seems right out of 1930s Shanghai herself, Marguerite, a mustachioed Afghan-American who weaves Persian rugs and deals in psychedelics. As she tells it, Isham's story all began with Luna, a beguiling but troubled Chinese woman who happens to have a mustache herself. Also vying for Isham's affection is the charismatic…


Love in a Fallen City

By Eileen Chang, Karen S. Kingsbury (translator),

Book cover of Love in a Fallen City

Though these collected stories were popular in Chang’s native China when first published in the 1940s, decades passed before they were translated into English. The title story brings war-torn Hong Kong to life, but even against the most dramatic political backdrop, Chang’s focus is firmly on women and relationships. Though the time and place may seem remote, readers will find universal emotions in these carefully constructed tales. 

Love in a Fallen City

By Eileen Chang, Karen S. Kingsbury (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Love in a Fallen City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Masterful short works about passion, family, and human relationships by one of the greatest writers of 20th century China. 

A New York Review Books Original

 

“[A] giant of modern Chinese literature” –The New York Times

 

"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 able truly to connect that divide, just as her heroines often disappeared inside it. She is the fallen angel of Chinese literature, and now, with these excellent new translations, English readers can…


Champions Day

By James Carter,

Book cover of Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai

Shanghai, which was once called the “Hollywood of Asia,” has always been a cinematic city par excellence, so a good way to describe the charms of this book is via movie terms. In one sense, it zooms in tightly on a specific day in the history of the city and what was happening in a single setting. It mixes close-ups of a horse race and some people who came to watch it, though, with wide-angle shots and flashbacks. The author, a skilled historian with deep knowledge of Chinese history and a stylish writer, moves effortlessly between Shanghai in the early 1940s as the Japanese military’s World War II era grip on the city and much of China was tightening and earlier points in its past. He also moves fluidly between the racecourse—a potent symbol, as during the height of the British imperial period, Britons would often build these to mark…

Champions Day

By James Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Champions Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

12 November 1941: war and revolution are in the air. At the Shanghai Race Club, the elite prepare their best horses and most nimble jockeys for the annual Champions Day races. Across the city and amid tight security, others celebrated the birth of Sun Yat-Sen in a new centre which challenged European imperialism. Thousands more Shanghai residents attended the funeral of China's wealthiest woman. But the biggest crowd gathered at the track; no one knew it, but Champions Day heralded the end of European Shanghai. Through this snapshot of the day's events, the rich and complex history that led to…


Miss Jill

By Emily Hahn,

Book cover of Miss Jill: A Novel

Emily Hahn, prolific author and New Yorker correspondent whose sojourns in Shanghai (1935-39), Chungking (1939-40), and Hong Kong (1941-43) coincided with the Japanese invasions of these cities, fictionalizes the life of Canadian Lorraine Murray, turned high-class prostitute in Shanghai after living as a foreign geisha in Japan. Hahn was fascinated by sex workers and hung out with them (Hahn and Murray were roommates), but the novel later morphs into the autobiographical as the beautiful Hahn ingratiates herself with Japanese military officials until she’s forced into a Hong Kong internment camp for several years. Hahn is more reporter than novelist, but her flair for detail and eyewitness authenticity brings Shanghai to life in a way the historical novelist cannot. Especially hilarious is Jill’s hotel scene with the British john who thought he was getting a freebie.

Miss Jill

By Emily Hahn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Jill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel about an enterprising Shanghai streetwalker from the “American literary treasure” and author of the memoir China to Me (The New Yorker).

 
Meet Miss Jill, a young woman pursuing the oldest profession in prewar Shanghai. Fifteen, blonde, and full of personality, Jill begins her career as a Japanese banker’s mistress. Soon after, she becomes a European prostitute in the house of Annette, and believes that any day now she’ll be married to a nobleman. But none of her adventures prepare Miss Jill for the war and her subsequent internment.
 
An early feminist and an American journalist who traveled to…


Night in Shanghai

By Nicole Mones,

Book cover of Night in Shanghai

At the center of the novel Night in Shanghai is Black American musician Thomas Greene, who arrives in Shanghai from segregated Baltimore to find wealth, position, and love—only to have his life changed forever by the outbreak of World War II. Author Nicole Mones was a businesswoman in China in the 1970s; her China experience, coupled with meticulous research, makes this a pitch-perfect portrait of the city and its denizens. A talented storyteller, she describes the little-known Black American experience of Shanghai, taking the reader from go-go Shanghai to wartime, weaving in actual events, characters, and depictions of the nightspots and jazz clubs of my parents’ Shanghai.

Night in Shanghai

By Nicole Mones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Night in Shanghai as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1936, classical pianist Thomas Greene is recruited to Shanghai to lead a jazz orchestra of fellow African-American expats. From being flat broke in segregated Baltimore to living in a mansion with servants of his own, he becomes the toast of a city obsessed with music, money, pleasure and power, even as it ignores the rising winds of war.
Song Yuhua is refined and educated, and has been bonded since age eighteen to Shanghai's most powerful crime boss in payment for her father's gambling debts. Outwardly submissive, she burns with rage and risks her life spying on her master for…


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