Shanghai Baby

Shanghai Baby
By Wei Hui
Copyright Ó Wei Hui, 2004


Nikki (or Coco) is a writer in China which was not popular enough. She is a tough woman who lives on her own. She had a boyfriend named Tian Tian and she lived together with him. Tian Tian was a nice weak loyal guy who loved painting. They both lived happily although Tian Tian could not give her offspring. He was impotent and Coco explained it really clear that they do not mind with that.

Coco has many great friends beside her. They sometimes asked Coco hang out and spend the night together. Coco has an ordinary day life but she has an exciting nightlife. One day, Coco met Mark. He is a Germany guy with a beautiful wife (Eva) and fabulous son. He has normal body which could satisfy Coco on bed. They sometimes meet and make love without any feeling. Neither does he, Coco does not love Mark. Tian Tian and Eva did not know about their habitual activity at all. So they kept doing it.

Tian Tian should go abroad to learn more about painting. He should stay there, at the south, about two month. Coco encouraged him to go and promised him that she would be alright. But the facts, she missed him a lot. Tian Tian also could not live far away from Coco. He was addicted by drugs then.

Coco felt very miserable. She regretted the day when she met Mark. She deceived Tian Tian and felt repellent about herself. She went south visiting Tian Tian but she seemed could not help him anymore. In the end of the story, Tian Tian died and Mark went back to Germany with his family. And Coco, she finally finished her novel. She still has many books to write also.

I think this story tells about Wei Hui’s passion. She wrote her dreams, her mind and her opinion about life. She is the first Chinese writer who describes state of affairs wildly and clearly (it is written on the testimony about this book). She exposes her sexual life and her social interactions without any boundaries. She describes it through Coco. Wei Hui could write explicitly about life and sex. That might be the reason why her 40.000 books was burnt in front of the public and was told as a communist. But as the flowers bloom, her books glows and touch the heart of many people outside. Here is the quote I took from “Arts Today”:

"Shanghai Baby" was published by China's biggest publisher in 1999 and soon sold over 130,000 copies. The official Xinhau (Shin-wha) news agency praised the book as a hugely popular account of the lives of China's "new generation".

But then everything changed. The Chinese Government condemned the book as a piece of western decadence - which it certainly is. The book was banned. Two key officials of the publishing company were sacked, and thousands of copies were burnt. As a result of all this notoriety, pirate editions can be easily obtained in China for around A$1.00.

Wei Hui sees herself as the voice of a new generation - of a new kind of woman - tired of the old restrictions, and lured by the individualism and the merchandise of the west. She is quite open about her desire to become famous - a desire she is well on her way to realising.”

Actually when I read this book from the beginning, I could not find the highlight. Everything flows unruffled and no climax. Shanghai Baby is neither a novel nor a story, it’s an everyday life. No one ever knows where it would end but by the time it ends, you would know it. If you want to know more about Afterthoughts on the Banning of "Shanghai Baby", read here.

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