Date of this Version
March 26, 2009 in The China Beat http://www.thechinabeat.org/
Lisa See has written seven books set in China–including novels like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, mysteries like Flower Net, and an account of her family’s immigration from China to the U.S., On Gold Mountain. Her most recent book,Shanghai Girls, will be released on May 26, 2009.
Kate Merkel-Hess: Your forthcoming book, Shanghai Girls, will be released in May. What is the book about? What inspired the novel’s subject?
Lisa See: Shanghai Girls is about two sisters who leave Shanghai in 1937 and come to Los Angeles in arranged marriages. Four things inspired me. First, I’ve been collecting Shanghai advertising images from the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties for many years. The so-called Beautiful Girls, women who posed for commercial artists, were right in the heart of the excitement in Shanghai. The charming and captivating life illustrated in advertisements is one thing, but I was interested in seeing what real life was like for those women. I also wanted to write about what it was like for Chinese women who came to America in arranged marriages. (We had a lot of arranged marriages in my family. I know how hard life was for the women.) Third, I wanted to write about China City, a short-lived tourist attraction in Los Angeles. And finally, I wanted to write about sisters. The sibling relationship is the longest that we’ll have in our lifetimes. A sister knows you your entire life. She should stand by you, support you, and love you, no matter what, but it’s also your sister who knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt you the most.