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Nanjing 1937: A Love Story
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Nanjing 1937: A Love Story

3.23  ·  Rating Details ·  100 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Set on the eve of the Rape of Nanjing -- when Japanese troops invaded the historic capital city, massacred hundreds of thousands, and committed thousands of rapes -- "Nanjing 1937" is a tender and humorous story of an impossible love and a lively, detailed historical portrait of a culture on the verge of rupture.

The novel centers on the life of Ding Wenyu, a privileged, wo
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published December 18th 2002 by Columbia University Press (first published 1996)
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I bought this book for the cover, more than anything. (Not the one pictured on Goodreads, but a very artistic colored-pencil looking yellow and red image)

Happily, I found the book as intriguing as the cover. It's an unusual love story, and the tale is tied around historical events which I'm not familiar with, but I was able to follow along both because of the notations, and because the love story takes place in spite of (not from dependence on) the events of the times.

The translation makes the w
Apr 02, 2009 Kay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, china, historical
This was the second time i tried reading this book and i liked it better this time round and managed to finish it. The main character Ding wasn't so easy to like, but i think there was a nice correlation between the rise in romantic intensity to the approach of the Nanjin massacre. The book did end a bit too abruptly, but at least the character was more likeable by that point than before.
Sep 18, 2007 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great, a little long-winded, but i think it was supposed to capture the character of Ding. A superb read for infomation about the japanese advance in china.
May 29, 2012 Jojie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
story of China during the war portrayed through a love story
Nik Morton
Ding Wenyu, almost forty, is married and a womaniser; he’s a college professor proficient in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Romanian; his ‘legendary’ language abilities come in useful from time to time. When in his late teens he was banished to France as a result of a misguided pursuit of a young woman. In Paris he crossed paths with Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov and Jorge Luis Borges, among others. Indeed, the book is deliberately scattered with name-dropping, notably the hi ...more
For anyone with a small interest in the History of China, "Nankin 1937" are two strong words, harbinger of doom and one of the darkest parts of Chinese history. But in this novel's title, these words are associated with "a love story". It's on this antithetic note that I started reading this book. It is indeed a love story. A neurotic and obsessed romance, but a romance all the same. And with a huge sword of Damocles suspended above it.

Ding Wenyu, experienced playboy, falls madly in love with Y
Shayla  Truong
This book was better then I expected. Though there were times when I found myself starring of into space, what kept me captivated was the ironic situations in the story. For example, Ding Wenyu's ability to capture the heart's of dozens of women, despite being in his late 30's!:-P Also, I dove into this book expecting one thing, but got something completely different in return! I thought the main focus would be a of a love story taken place during the Rape of Nanjing, and how this tragic event w ...more
May 30, 2008 Dana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes place in Nanjing the year leading up to the infamous massacre by the Japanese in 1937. The story is about Ding Wenyu, a womanizing professor of foreign languages. He is a immensely popular professor who does not abide by any rule of either etiquette or common sense. He is invited to the wedding of one of his colleague's and falls head over heels in love with the bride, Ren Yuyuan. He starts by sending daily love letters to her. She at first is embarrassed and does not know how to ...more
May 01, 2010 paperdust rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am left with a bland aftertaste. As with most novels I have read by Chinese authors, I find the beginnings well-written and promising, but the middle drags on for all eternity and the ending is left open. The novel's translator, Michael Berry helped me to understand the author's intention a little more when he wrote: "The year 1937 saw not only the fall of the ancient capital of Nanjing but also the pinnacle of its development; in his novel, Ye Zhaoyan captures both. And although the novel com ...more
Greta Yu
Feb 10, 2016 Greta Yu rated it it was amazing
This is my second time reading a translated book, and I expected strange language translations, however, the writing was superb. My review might be a little of, because I had to rush to finish the book. However, I really liked the book and the character. Although the book has a title accossiated with a very serious and drastic event, the plot was quite humorous. The terrible day that we know as the Rape of Nanjing, is not seen in this book until the final pages. In fact we see quite the opposite ...more
Kathy Chung
I thought this book would be tedious to read ..must be about suffering of two lovees in a war torn era. Why did I buy it? Well...coz it's just rm5 and a great bargain. I might like the book.

Anyway..just finished reading it last night. Was surprised. Its not about the war at all. Its about yhe lovesick Ding Wenyu. He is like
The chinese casanova , uncle oswald and Charlie Chaplin muxed together.

It was hilarious to read all the trouble he went through to win the heart of his beloved.

Would hv give
Feb 08, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ye Zhaoyan's sense of irony juxtaposed against the backdrop of one of China's most tragic periods in modern history brings laughter and tears to this touching love story. If you're well-versed in Chinese history, you'll love the references to all the heavy hitters in 20th century Chinese politics (with the exception of the Chairman himself). And if you're new to Chinese history, you'll enjoy the story while learning a little about the making of modern China. One of the best novels I've read abou ...more
Richard Huang
The book has a lot of interesting events taking place. The author certainly has a vivid imagination. However, some parts of the book were translated poorly. I could make out a few Chinese idioms that were translated literally word for word which made it kind of odd to read. On the other hand the book mainly focuses on the main protagonist's chase for the love of his life and less on the Rape of Nanking. I would recommend this book to those who love a good romance novel set in the past.
Amanda Patterson
Though this novel is easy to read. It's not for everyone. You may like it if you're obsessed with Chinese history and literature. You may like it if you like armchair travel, and want to experience what Nanjing was really like in 1937. You'll like it if you like a quirky love story and raunchy sex scenes.
Luisalex Delarosa
Though this novel is easy to read. It's not for everyone. You may like it if you're obsessed with Chinese history and literature. You may like it if you like armchair travel, and want to experience what Nanjing was really like in 1937. You'll like it if you like old history novels.
Aug 11, 2011 Joke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book bored me, but at the same time I couldn't put it down. So, there must be something special about it...
Eric Jiang
Apr 01, 2015 Eric Jiang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was able to illustrate the chaos and horrific actions that took place during the Nanking Massacre. The book was alright. The action and chaos only begins in the end of the book.
Paige White
Dec 22, 2008 Paige White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i love how this novel draws parallels between the love story and what was happening politically between Japan and China.
Jun 30, 2013 Chloe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tried hard to get into this but it focused too much on the politcal and historical aspects of China rather than the story.
Kenny Chau
It starts out as a very slow book, and Ding Wenyu is very difficult to like, because his personality isn't enjoyable
Charles Corn
Charles Corn rated it it was ok
Jul 28, 2015
Regina Ong
Regina Ong rated it really liked it
Feb 19, 2014
Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Jan 08, 2008
Jessica Larson-Wang
Jessica Larson-Wang rated it liked it
Feb 19, 2009
Lauren rated it it was ok
Aug 22, 2012
Faith rated it really liked it
Jan 12, 2009
Briana rated it it was ok
Aug 18, 2014
Birdy rated it liked it
May 31, 2013
Silviets rated it liked it
Aug 28, 2012
Kristin Lewis
Kristin Lewis rated it it was amazing
Jan 25, 2017
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Ye Zhaoyan was born in Nanjing in 1957. After graduating from high school in 1974, Ye worked as a fitter in a factory for four years. Afterwards, he was admitted to the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Nanjing University. He gained his master's degree there in 1986.

Ye Zhaoyan came to literary prominence in the early 1980s. He has written a total of some 5 million words. His major w
More about Ye Zhaoyan...

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