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Shanghai Baby

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3.21  ·  Rating Details ·  3,705 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
The gap that divides those of us born in the 1970s and the older generation has never been so wide.
Dark and edgy, deliciously naughty, an intoxicating cocktail of sex and the search for love, Shanghai Baby has already risen to cult status in mainland China. The risque contents of the breakthrough novel by hip new author Wei Hui have so alarmed Beijing authorities that th
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Washington Square Press (first published 1999)
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The Writer
Dec 17, 2008 The Writer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of my Chinese friends encourage me to read this book, not because they think it's cool or that it's fantastic, but because the main character is a Shanghainese girl.

Well, duh, you can read the title, right?

It turned out, my Chinese friends - who are not from Shanghai - begged me to read this book to prove their points that Shanghai girls are *cough* a bit unruly on the sex and wild side. They have this prejudice that Shanghai girls are only after white guys and that they would do anything
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Julia
Mar 10, 2010 Julia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, oh-la-la, chick-lit
I found this book on a sale and it kindled my interest because i had heard about the scandal and the banning it had been involved in in china - well, it's very explicit about sex, but doesn't break any real taboos in the western world. Ok, there's sex with an impotent man, there's sex with a German with an OOOOOOO SOOOOOOO HUUUUUUUUUGE penis, there's no sex with a vibrator and there's a little bit of flirting with other women. the only thing which really made me swallow (in an unpleasant way) wa ...more
Ivana Books Are Magic
How this book ever became a bestseller is beyond me. However, in a world where Fifity Shades of Grey is a bestseller, that really ought not be so surprising. At least this novel has a few good passages ( I didn't actually read Fifty Shades of Grey but I read quotes from it and they were, by far, the worst and most idiotic thing I have ever read in my life). However, those lyrical passages to be found in Shangai Baby don't exactly make for a good novel. Don't be fooled by lovely quotes like these ...more
S.
Dec 23, 2012 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dutchess
why is this book so hated? 3.21 according to GR statistics makes it one of the most despised books on the website...

Shanghai Baby was famously banned in China, and although failing to reach any huge level of greatness, clearly illustrates the character's self-centred after-every-expat nature. but this seems to be Shanghai in general. a complete destruction of this city would not turn it into Jerusalem. to some degree, criticism of the book is deserved in that it reflects the sort of "worst stere
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Caleb Liu
Apr 19, 2007 Caleb Liu rated it did not like it
Privileged Shanghai twenty-something nicknamed Coco (after Coco Chanel) loves her artist but impotent boyfriend but engages in torrid affair with married German expat businessman.

Wei Hui's attempts to contrast hedonism and the search for authenticity within the lens of the post Deng Xiaopeng China and such weightier themes (East vs West, capitalism vs imperialism) doesn't work.

This is more Cosmo that Keroac, more gossip column than Henry Miller. Notable largely for its overblown sex scenes lead
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Alexis
Jul 13, 2011 Alexis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Wow! What an utterly uninspired piece of writing. The main character (apparently based on the author) is totally unrelatable and lacks depth. While I believe the character was intended to be this revolutionary and shocking women she came off as a shallow and uncaring character with no redeemable human quality. The writing itself was boring and uninvolved.... A depressing attempt at shock value.
Vesna
Jul 08, 2015 Vesna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

Knjiga nema neku radnju. Pisana je kao dnevnik svakodnevnice 25-ogodišnjakinje i ne događa se ništa posebno: malo druženja, malo ljubovanja, malo rada na romanu...
U meni nije pobudila neka razmišljanja, a ni emocije. Doima se nekako nabacano i plitko s tendencijom da bude duboko i sveobuhvatno.
Stilski nije nešto. Na početku svakog poglavlja autorica citira zapadne mislioce i nepotrebno citira druge autore u samom tekstu kao da nema svojih misli pa ubacuje tuđe. U drugoj polovici romana, presta
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Cari
Oct 27, 2009 Cari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Crap. Self-indulgent, narcissistic, unabashedly ignorant, poorly written crap. It's a shame that Chinese literature is being represented by such an atrocious wanna-be.
Ivana
Feb 08, 2012 Ivana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Much of the praise this novel got is undeserved. Its raise to popularity has to do ( I strongly believe) mainly with the fact that it was banned by the Chinese government. I actually agree with what the Chinese government had to say about it, how it was an imitation of the west or something like that.

The protagonist is this Shanghai girl nicknamed Coco whose idol is Coco Chanel. You could say that the two have something in common--- While Coco Chanel was famous for her relationship with a Nazi o
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Odai Alsaeed
Jan 06, 2011 Odai Alsaeed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
أعتقد أن اشكالية المكان تتلاشي تدريجيا بفعل عامل التكنولوجيا وثورة الاتصالات ومع إبداع الكاتبة أحسست أنني في قلب أحداثها أتخاطب مع أبطالها وأتفاعل معهم...سرد بسيط مؤثر فعال وقيم... كما أن الترجمة كانت موفقة بشكل كبير أضفت على الرواية متعة وابداع ......رواية جميلة تستحق القراءة
Mel
About the Book
Wei Hui calls the novel a semi-autobiographical account of her spiritual and sexual awakening.
semi-autobiographical (influenced by American writer Henry Miller), close resemblance to the author’s life, but partially fiction to make it more entertaining or use it for one’s conclusions, could not find out more
banned in China for its sexual content, its bold depiction of China’s ’New Generation’, especially that of women’s
was a local bestseller, after the banishment—which is probabl
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Dominic


So... when does the really good part come on?

The protagonist falls in love with an impotent man but finds a "sexy, Western man" to fill her "void". Said impotent man develops a drug habit while the German moves back to Berlin. What is she really left with?

Of course, the author leaves us with a "who I'm I?" cliff-hanger moment near the end of the book which seems to be the major theme running throughout. From the reviews on here, one would describe the protagonist ("Coco") to be a heartless, self
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Melissa
Oct 23, 2011 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I grabbed this book off of a free book exchange shelf thinking it was Shanghai Girls but decided to read it anyway. Big mistake! Granted this book was written in 1999 and was almost banned by the Chinese government because of it's sensuality, it was not worth being printed. This was a very shallow twenty-something version of Sex in the City without the best friends. The only parts that were interesting were brief commentaries on western expats. I found the narrator obsessed with all things weste ...more
Antonomasia
If this had been published here in 2011, not 2001, it would have been called a hipster novel. It's more conventionally written than Taipei or How Should A Person Be? (plus the descriptions often teeter on a subjective line between 'intense melancholy beauty' and 'a bit emo'), but most of the characters are, as in Alt-Lit, well-off urban middle class arty twentysomethings who barely have a thought for anyone and anything outside their own social set. There are even vists to a therapist.

Shanghai
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Icha
Jan 22, 2008 Icha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nikki (or Coco) is a writer in China which was not popular enough. She is a tough woman who lives on her own. She had a boyfriend named Tian Tian and she lived together with him. Tian Tian was a nice weak loyal guy who loved painting. They both lived happily although Tian Tian could not give her offspring. He was impotent and Coco explained it really clear that they do not mind with that.

Coco has many great friends beside her. They sometimes asked Coco hang out and spend the night together. Coco
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Jennie
Apr 07, 2007 Jennie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wei Hui is Shanghai-ese spoiled spoiled spoiled who can think of nothing better to do, so she decides to become a writer, and because she's a writer, she must be tortured! Oh! It's so hard being her! It's so hard living the life of luxury and not having to care! Don't you feel sorry for her? Because she wants you to.

Also, Wei Hui most pretentious. And her writing, ugh. "A team of Japanese boys on roller skates looked like mounted butterflies as they showed off their techniques... their dyed hair
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Patty
Sep 14, 2007 Patty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because of the controversy and upon reading it I understand why this book caused such a stir in China that drove them to burn the copies. Personally I found the topic quite ordinary, drug addiction and female sexuality is something that an army of Indonesian young writers love to discuss since the fall of New Order era. But given the fact that this is a book from a young woman in a country as repressed as China, I gotta give it some credit. The author was very brave. She spoke ...more
Emon
Oct 03, 2007 Emon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Situated by the changing Shanghai, Coco started to write her second novel. Coco was formerly a journalist, but resigned after she launched her first novel.

By encouraging her boy friend, Tian Tian, a painter, Coco felt self confidence to write her novel. Tian Tian saw that Coco was very talented at writing.

This novel also described that Shanghai was a changing city. Where modern met old. And East met West. That's why Shanghai is always interesting city in the world.In the wilderness of Shanghai,
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Natalia
Oct 05, 2016 Natalia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because it seemed to have the potencial of being an interesting story; but at the end it only showed to be a very pretentious novel written by a pseudo-feminist and pseudo-intellectual narcissist woman.
Debbie
Feb 04, 2016 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was so odd. It is touted as being banned because it was "too sensual". I found it more about a strange, narcissistic woman and her very needy childlike boyfriend. Not great, but I finished it
Mirvan  Ereon
Mar 09, 2012 Mirvan Ereon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. Slutty and unapologetic the way I like it.
Den Walton
Feb 06, 2017 Den Walton rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nunca entiendo las historias en las que las chicas se "enamoran" de un drogon... ni las entendere, jamas. Fin. Un bodrio fenomenal, pretenciosa. Y aburrida como chupar un clavo.
Sheila
Shanghai Baby is a story about a twenty-something, Shanghainese writer who falls in love with two men: an impotent Chinese and a married German. If it's all about that, I will have abandoned the book after a few chapters. But Wei Hui also paints a picture of 1999, post-colonial Shanghai, maybe not representative of industrial China, but at least enough to satisfy a traveler like me.

The main character is called Coco and she wants to be famous, a characteristic that she attributes to Shanghai's s
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Lau
Apr 10, 2012 Lau rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: debería-releer
Tenía curiosidad por esta novela que tan controversial fue en China. No se, quizás mi mente acostumbrada a la literatura moderna no se horroriza facilmente, o tal vez el nivel de aceptación y pensamiento en ese país es bastante conservador. Cuando salió se quemaron publicamente miles de ediciones, pero una vez más, el mercado negro triunfó y ayudó en la difusión.
Shangai Baby no es un libro que leería dos veces, al menos no de momento. Es interesante, está bien escrito y tiene ciertos “raptos” fi
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James
Shanghai Baby (上海寳貝) by Zhou Weihui is the quintessential novel of the modern, middle-class Chinese woman living in the heady days of the early 90s as China underwent massive socio-economic changes.

Semi-autobiographical in nature and with the link between fact and fiction blurred for marketing purposes, Shanghai Baby is replete with brand names, sexualised themes and empty dialogue. Commercialisation and materialism are glamorised to an obscene extent, with the protagonist at every opportunity
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Farnoosh Brock
Apr 23, 2013 Farnoosh Brock rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think the mediocrity of a badly written book can be overemphasized. It is not easy to fail the reader on so many fronts: story, promise of one thing and delivery of another, lack of climax, poor use of the language followed by a miserable pointless ending. Zhou Wei Hui succeeds tremendously in achieving all of this in “Shanghai Baby”.

The author only redeems herself in the poetic prose and phrases, despite the uninteresting background against which it all fell.

The protagonist Nikki, or i
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Suzanne B
Apr 27, 2014 Suzanne B rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The title’s not usually what I go for since it sounds like typical chick-lit but I thought I’d have a go. What intrigued me most about it was the fact that it was banned and publicly burned in China because it was thought “decadent” (i.e. raunchy).

So let’s start. Wei Hui’s first novel is largely semi-autobiographical. It’s about Coco trying to write a novel and being torn between two men: a largely virile German (and married) lover and an intensely loving, impotent druggie called Tian Tian.

Her
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Gavinrua
Mar 09, 2012 Gavinrua rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Offensive drivel.
The lead character is an obnoxiously selfish c-word that it's impossible to feel anything for.
She is boring, simply in love with her own cutesyness, nd the tone does not suggest that we are meant to hold this opinion. Seemingly we are meant to share her opinion of herself.
I understand that having an affair with a foreigner is a taboo that she broke with this book. But picking a taboo and breaking it for shock value seems to be all she has achieved. The attitude to sex is so imma
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Dominic
May 27, 2014 Dominic rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
a lot of unfair negativity about this book. I had never read something like this before and the copious sex scenes were slightly off putting and the main thing stopping me giving it a higher rating. Don't get me wrong, I love sex! But reading about other people doing it is dull.

However, this book is so poetic, it is beautifully written and I love the characterisation, Tian Tian is my favourite character and most of the poetry orbits Coco's lamentations on his being. At points also a very existe
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LKM
Sep 16, 2008 LKM rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this because "It was like The Lover", and I liked that book, so "I would like this one, too."

I can't say I really... liked it. I can't say it was just ok either; it's somewhere in between, and to be fair, I never went past half the book.
The part I read wasn't all that bad, but it felt a bit like the author kept trying to sound more than what she could actually be. Like a kid trying to use big words.
I got bored halfway through and decided I better take my time reading about samurai.

It's a
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Zhou Weihui (simplified Chinese: 周卫慧; traditional Chinese: 周衛慧) is a Chinese writer, living and working in Shanghai and New York. She is known in the West also as "Wei Hui".

Her novel Shanghai Baby (2000) was banned in the People's Republic of China as "decadent". Her latest novel Marrying Buddha (2005) was censored, modified and published in China under a modified title.

Wei Hui has been regarded b
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More about Zhou Weihui...

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“Kissing with the tip of the tongue is like ice-cream melting. It was he who taught me that a kiss has a soul and colour of its own.” 17 likes
“Her life was like a burst of wild, flowing Chinese calligraphy, written under the influence of alcohol.” 17 likes
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