My Life in Books: Shanghai Baby

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Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui

This book had been banned in china when it was first published. Screaming women’s independence, sexual freedom and to put it lightly affairs of the heart. A very controversial story, but a must read. I remember looking up information on the book and the writer, and I found out that copies of the book were ordered to be burnt. Anyone caught with a copy was frowned upon and to think, it was only published a few years ago. The book was immediately broadcast as far too raunchy for such a modest country and time. With that kind of backlash I’m sure Wei Hui (way-way) partly expected a negative audience, but the bonfire was a far cry. The book was eventually published again, thankfully in English and various other languages.

I’m what I call a late developer, at least in the social context. I didn’t ask questions about my body when I was growing up, though I did ask a lot of questions on breasts as I didn’t have any until I was 15. Sex was a onetime thing that occurred quite dramatically when I was 14, and never again until I was 20. It never occurred to me that a woman/girl was supposed to ‘know’ her body. I just worried about my shoes fitting me and mourned the end of my running and sprinting days; growing pains for sure. I never had a boyfriend, I was friendly with the guys but that was due to being a super girly tomboy.

I was roughly 18/19 when i bought this book on a lunch day with an old pal. We went to MK to meet his girlfriend at the time for lunch. It so happened she was late so we browsed the shops until she called to say she had arrived. We went to HMV, which was where I found this book selling for £2. I didn’t have much money on me as it was a last minute outing. He called me at 8am and demanded I come with him for moral support; and by moral support he meant hold his hand whilst he went shopping for jeans. Anyhoo… I’m going on again…

I bought this book and read it from cover to cover within the space of 3 weeks, I take a while… it taught me so much about Coco; a young twentysomething living and working in Shanghai as a writer. She lives with her boyfriend Tian Tian, who is wrapped up in a world of depression, marijuana and ‘high-life’ parties. She spends her waking hours writing freelance, painting with Tin and spending enormous amounts of time alone. She delves into the world of self love, writing to turn her mind on and using her hands to love her body. She longs to be different, longs to live life differently but Tian Tian doesn’t know of love as he’s never performed. She risks everything for the love of writing and the passion she so desires. Along comes a spider; Mark, a German businessman.

I won’t go into too much detail but I felt sad when the book ended. I itched for a long time for a story like it and couldn’t find one. It’s a book I’ve read a good few times. A few weeks later I found out Wei Hui had written the conclusion or a sequel to Coco’s journey, picked up from the end of the last book. That book is called Marrying Buddha. At the start of every chapter there were motivational quotes that set you in the mood for the chapter you were about to read, and my goodness they inspired me. I couldn’t help but pick up my laptop and write like crazy.

Ladies, if you want a good coffee table read, this book is for you. Men, if you want to know how us women connect touch and emotion with everything we do, then read this!

There was a movie made a few years back, I believe in 2007, Coco was played by one of China’s most notorious sex symbols Bai Ling.




Author: Sy Calaelen

Sy Calaelen is a British writer, blogger and Youtube vlogger, though she isn't filming at the moment. English literature graduate. Both sites will focus on literary reviews, book lists, comic books and nerd chat, writing and novel tips, and discussions in magick, paganism and the occult. A mixture of everything from her. Reach out on social media from Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, GoodReads, and Pinterest.

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