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Farewell Shanghai

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  96 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Selected as a runner-up in the 2007 National Jewish Book Award category for fiction.

The unforgettable novel of nearly forgotten refugees who fled Nazi Germany and discovered the glamour and excess of Shanghai.Elisabeth and Theodore Weissberg, famous musicians, Hilde, a young film extra, and Vladek, an Eastern European adventurer wanted by the police on political charges, f
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 15th 2007 by Other Press (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 199)
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Oct 23, 2012 Chrissie rated it it was ok
Shelves: china, hf
I have been all over the map with this book. First of all, particularly in the first half of the book, I found the writing confusing. Here is an example of what you will have to contend with:

The days and months flowed by heavily and monotonously, with no news from Elisabeth (in contrast to normal prisons with legal regulations, here correspondence was forbidden), and the hour-long morning and evening roll-calls, always with the small three-times cursed pastry shop and the constantly perfected ar
Mar 30, 2010 Maude rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in holocaust history
Recommended to Maude by: Read a review
When I was in my teens, I began reading books on the holocaust. Most of them had pictures taken by soldiers who liberated the camps. These pictures showed the survivors - skin and bones, many times naked - and because of this it would have been difficult to identify a member of your family because, by this time, they all looked similar. I was horrified but I couldn't cry. It was not until I read another book on Auschwitz which had in it a picture of a middle-aged woman dressed in her best and ho ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Nina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this, but it didn't necessarily focus on the Shanghai ghetto quite as much as it could have. That story would have helped to bring all the characters together...which they do, but it seems like 200 pages of the book are involved in getting the characters to the ghetto and then you skip 5 years. An odd choice. Sometimes the author takes you on a weird tangent, but only for a few pages and then it's back to the story. The characters are interesting, I just wish we got to see more of them ...more
Jan 30, 2011 Michigosling rated it did not like it
Knowing someone who lived in Shanghai during WWII, and having read at least one other book about Jewish refugees there, I expected better things from this book.

I was initially impressed with the style of the writing, and it proved to be a relatively quick read, but ultimately, I didn't find it a satisfying story. The characters were not convincing or well-developed, and by jumping right into the action and keeping things moving, Wagenstein left out too much detail that might have made the charac
Feb 29, 2016 Lahierbaroja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una joyita para descubrir, que esconde un relato desgarrador, duro, cruel, pero al mismo tiempo real, que nos cuenta algo de la historia no oficial de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Wagenstein me encandila.
Apr 25, 2011 Judy rated it liked it
Chose this from my China shelf. Hopefully, it will set the stage for my trip to China this summer:-).

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. I thought I was satiated with WWII novels, but the setting for this one moves from Paris to Shanghai and deals with a situation I was not very familiar with. Shanghai was a free international city during the early years of the war. Wagenstein's treatment of the class distinctions between the resident Jews and refugees was intruiging. The dilemmas and co
Mar 26, 2009 Tia rated it did not like it
I could not finish this execrable book. The plot is a mish-mash of bad WWII movie cliches: the hot, blonde Jewess, the Vichy Paris, the bad sex, the hidden identities. Every page seems as if it's written to be translated to the screen, but it's so disjointed, the characters make no sense, and so it feels more like a regurgitation of images of what a movie about WWII should be like.
The writing is horrible--my first thought when I read it was: hmm... these sentences do not make sense, it reads li
Jan 05, 2016 Noel rated it it was ok
tough book to finish. Switching between fiction and history didn't quite work
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Sep 24, 2008 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides rated it really liked it
Shelves: east-asia
This was an interesting fictionalization of an aspect of WWII I had no idea about. A tragic story with a beautiful atmosphere. I only wish the author or translator had been a little more explicit about what was fictionalized, and maybe provided some pointers to English-language sources. Though when I did a little poking around on the Internet, I didn't really come up with much.

There's a little discussion of the background here:
Aug 07, 2015 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is good. World War II, Jews and Shanghai, interesting topics.
We follow the life stories of several people involved in good and not so good events.
May Bletz
Aug 13, 2013 May Bletz rated it really liked it
I had never heard of the writer -in fact, I'm not sure I've ever read fiction from Bulgaria- but apparently, Wagenstein is extremely famous there and, judged by this novel, he certainly deserves to be. The work is captivating, full of beautiful spies, lust, torture and murder- and the historical subject is overwhelming -the Jewish ghetto in Shanghai - but it never gets cheap or kitschy.
Mar 26, 2013 Heidi rated it liked it
Very compelling book about the WWII Jewish experience in Shanghai. Having previously read an autobiography about an Austrian family's experience in Shanghai, I was familiar with some of the history. This book presented the story through many perspectives and thus gave me a broader insight into those years for Jews, Germans, Japanese and Chinese who lived (and died) through this horror.
Mar 12, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing
The description of this book is not accurate--there was no glamour and excess in the lives of the refugees who fled Nazi Germany to Shanghai. Wagenstein weaves fact and fiction into a fascinating drama focusing on three main characters and their struggles to stay alive.

The language is poetic--a tribute to the translators (from Bulgarian).
Brenda Hawley
Jan 23, 2012 Brenda Hawley rated it really liked it
A different twist to World War II books about the persecution of Jews. This time in Shanghai where many of them fled in the late 1930s as it was the only open city where they could go. Interesting historical information as well as tragic consequences for many of the characters. Written in a literary style which is quite readable.
Sep 23, 2009 Laurel rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
This book reads as though it was written for film. I think it would have fared better as a screenplay. However, I tend to read books about places I've recently visited, so this book held my interest and exposed a part of WWII history that I was unaware of... particularly the plight of Jews in Japanese/German-occupied Shanghai.
May 07, 2013 Valerie rated it did not like it
I had many issues with this book, but one of the biggest was the lack of development and respect given to the Chinese people that were present for this story. There were no strong Chinese characters at all, and when they were mentioned it was usually in a racist way that I think wasn't limited to the narrator's perspective.
I will have to read it again to get a feel for this book thatI don't in my first reading. The book reads like more an history book than a novel,don't feel a person conection.
This book was fine. Not my favorite Holocaust fiction, but I did enjoy the interweaving of all the characters' stories.
Jan 28, 2010 Sarah rated it it was ok
moderately difficult to read due to the sentence structure of the translation, interesting story line, though
Feb 25, 2011 Emanuella rated it really liked it
Изревах си очите в края на книгата!!!
Харесвам стила на Анжел Вагенщайн.
Originally published by Colibri Publishing House, Bulgaria
Colin marked it as to-read
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Diana R. rated it it was amazing
May 25, 2016
taide rated it really liked it
May 23, 2016
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Mar 28, 2016
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Mar 13, 2016
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Angel Raymond Wagenstein (Bulgarian: Анжел Раймонд Вагенщайн) is a Bulgarian film director and author. Wagenstein was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but spent his childhood in France where his Sephardic Jewish family emigrated for political reasons due to their leftist politics.
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