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Farewell Shanghai

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  17 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
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Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 15th 2007 by Other Press (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 165)
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Chrissie
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
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Maude
Mar 30, 2010 Maude rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Michigosling
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
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Judy
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
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Tia
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
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Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
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: http://www.cjss.org.cn/200706208.htm
May Bletz
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.
Heidi
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.
Susan
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
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.
Laurel
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.
Valerie
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.
Zhara
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.
Amanda
This book was fine. Not my favorite Holocaust fiction, but I did enjoy the interweaving of all the characters' stories.
Sarah
moderately difficult to read due to the sentence structure of the translation, interesting story line, though
Emanuella
Изревах си очите в края на книгата!!!
Харесвам стила на Анжел Вагенщайн.
Foreign
Originally published by Colibri Publishing House, Bulgaria
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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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