The China Beat has a very interesting list of the best books from 2008 on Chinese women, including two titles from Columbia University Press: The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi; translated by Michael Berry and Susan Chan Egan and Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, and Nation by Antonia Finnane.
For more on the two Columbia titles, “The China Beat” has an interview with Antonia Finnane along with a review of the book. There is also a fascinating article by Howard Choy reflecting on the importance of The Song of Everlasting Sorrow and how it fits in with the history of twentieth-century Shanghai.
Here’s what “The China Beat” had to say about each book:
Antonia Finnane, Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation. Columbia University Press. This beautifully illustrated book covers Chinese fashion from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) through the 1990s, with delightful analysis of how gender, class, and nationalism have influenced Chinese fashions through the ages.
Wang Anyi, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow. Trans. Michael Berry and Susan Chan Egan. Columbia University Press. Winner of the 2000 Mao Dun Literature Award, this 1995 novel from the well-known Shanghai novelist came out in English translation this past year. Beginning in 1945 Shanghai, in the sliver of time between wartime Japanese occupation and Communist liberation, the novel traces the steps of one Miss Shanghai as she travels through the longtang alleyways of everyday Shanghai and observes the lives of its occupants, which she traces through 1986 (though with a slight jump over the Cultural Revolution decade of 1966-76).
Other books from the list include: Joan Judge, The Precious Raft of History: The Past, the West, and the Woman Question in China (Stanford University Press); Susan Mann, The Talented Women of the Zhang Family (University of California Press); Anne Walthall, ed. Servants of the Dynasty: Palace Women in World History (University of California Press); Harriet Evans, The Subject of Gender: Daughters and Mothers in Urban China (Rowman & Littlefield); Eugenia Lean, Public Passions: The Trial of Shi Jianqiao and the Rise of Popular Sympathy in Republican China (University of California Press); Lijia Zhang, Socialism is Great! (Atlas and Co); Xiaolu Guo, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (Chatto & Windus); and Leslie T. Chang, Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China (Spiegel and Grau)