NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A gifted writer . . . explores the bonds of sisterhood while powerfully evoking the often nightmarish American immigrant experience.”—USA Today
In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.
As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.
At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are: Shanghai girls.
Praise for Shanghai Girls
“A buoyant and lustrous paean to the bonds of sisterhood.”–Booklist
“A rich work . . . as compulsively readable as it is an enlightening journey.”—Denver Post
American author, Lisa See, was born in Paris, France, but spent many years in Los Angeles, primarily in the Chinatown District. Her mother, another novelist, wrote her autobiography which also includes interesting insights into her daughter's life. Lisa See graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. Degree in 1979.
See had various writing jobs such as a correspondent for Publisher's Weekly on the West Coast and has written articles for Self, Vogue, and More magazines. Lisa See is one-eighth Chinese, and she has done various noted projects concerning the Chinese American population. One such project was featured in the Smithsonian. See has also been an avid public speaker. Adding to her diversification, she also serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner. See is a member of The Trusteeship, an organization whose members are "prominent women of achievement and influence in diverse fields".
Among her works are: Snowflower and the Secret Fan, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls. "These books have been celebrated for their authentic, deeply researched, lyrical stories about Chinese characters and cultures". One newer book is about South Korean women of Jeju Island, called The Island of Sea Women. It was chosen as the March 2019 Barnes and Noble nationwide Book Club book to read.