Love In A Fallen City [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Eileen Chang Translated by Karen S. Kingsbury Original Title: 傾城之戀 Published by NYRB Classics (2006, first published 1943) ISBN: 1590171780 (ISBN13: 9781590171783) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
This is the third book that I am reviewing / featuring as part of our #DecolonizeBookshelves2022 reading theme from my target list of 25 books (for this year) from This Is The Canon: Decolonize Your Bookshelf In 50 Books (Amazon | Book Depository).
My book log indicates that I started reading the book on February 13, 2022 and finished on March 19, 2022, and wrote my review the following day on March 20. I have taken a photo of my entry and sharing it here.
This collection of stories was pretty riveting – but came to me at such a frenzied time at work, which serves as my half-hearted explanation as to why it took me more than a month to finish reading it. However, the short stories allowed me to sneak in a few pages here and there while doing a million and one other things that prevented me from reading to my heart’s content.
There were striking themes that fit into the decolonize nature of our reading theme, especially the portrayal of biracial characters who do not seem to fit in anywhere, forever outsiders across their two cultural backgrounds; not to mention the distinct sense of place, be it in Hong Kong or Shanghai.
I shared a quote from the book that I found to be powerful since it surfaces how women are valued in this particular cultural context: China – but may also be how it is like in various parts of the world, to some degree:
Basically a woman who was tricked by a man deserved to die, while a woman who tricked a man was a whore. If a woman tried to trick a man but failed and then was tricked by him, that was whoredom twice over. Kill her and you’d only dirty the knife. – p. 152
As I have noted in my review above, the quote as extreme as it is, seems to want to get a rise out of the reader. I found it to be such a striking contrast to how the women in the stories had been carefully and meticulously portrayed, thus serving to invalidate and render absurd the way society treats women as measured by the quote above, even while women continue to live their lives with grace and an abiding sense of who they are regardless of how society views them.
#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 31 out of target 100