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Shanghai Baby

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  4,449 ratings  ·  373 reviews
A story of love, sex and self-discovery - banned in China.

Publicly burned in China for its sensual nature and irreverent style, this novel is the semi-autobiographical story of Coco, a cafe waitress, who is full of enthusiasm and impatience for life. She meets a young man, Tian Tian, for whom she feels tenderness and love, but he is reclusive, impotent and an increasing us
Mass Market Paperback, 311 pages
Published 2002 by Robinson (first published 1999)
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Anthony China didn't like its two-pronged nature of being highly sexual, and seemingly awe-stricken by the West. They described it as "decadent, debauched and…moreChina didn't like its two-pronged nature of being highly sexual, and seemingly awe-stricken by the West. They described it as "decadent, debauched and a slave of foreign culture", and in a country whose government tends to be as much about stewarding its culture as its laws, banning the book seemed like the best way to limit what it saw as damage to its populace. (less)
Ranie Ismidiana not as explicit as 50 shades of grey but explicit enough for you to put this books in a top shelves so underage kids can't read it…morenot as explicit as 50 shades of grey but explicit enough for you to put this books in a top shelves so underage kids can't read it(less)

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Average rating 3.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,449 ratings  ·  373 reviews

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The Writer
Dec 17, 2008 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
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: china, chick-lit, oh-la-la
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
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
Caleb Liu
Apr 19, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Dec 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
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 proba
I should start by saying I am not the target audience for this, and also by recording my surprise that this was a banned book in China. Why was is banned? For its self-indulgence?

Although already announced in the blurb on the back as semi-autobiographical, it is a pretty thin veil being cast over the author, who clearly is for a large part the main character.

Pretty author, nicknamed Coco (after Coco Chanel) who everybody fawns over, quits her job as a waitress to live with artist boyfriend and c
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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.


THE GOOD: 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, selfish, and deeply narcissistic charac
Apr 07, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Oct 23, 2011 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
Oct 03, 2007 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,
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Oct 05, 2016 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.
Eleni Tavoulari
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A really honest book...from a sincere and talented author i think..
Mirvan. Ereon
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Slutty and unapologetic the way I like it.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
What a strange book..
Jan 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sabina Knight
_Shanghai Baby_ is powerful portrait of Shanghai, of a Chinese cosmopolitan caught between cultures and subcultures, and of a woman novelist still finding her unique voice.

The original has compelling philosophical and sociological aspects that are not evident in the English translation. Through no fault of the translator, who was constrained by market demands and his publisher, the English translation does not do justice to the original novel. Though fully competent, the translation changes the
Sep 14, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Astrid Natasastra
Well, she is a good author.. she's able to describe the characters and emotions precisely.. it'll engage you.. but story wise.. I don't really like it.. it's just basically about a Chinese girl who had a younger bf but having affair with a good-looking western guy. It's still a good read incase you have nothing else to read or you can borrow this from your friend. Otherwise, it's not a priority. ...more
Hargun Kaur Sachdev
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading a book with the protagonist being a writer is always fascinating. Reading the book was entertaining and some parts were very well written but the ending seemed lazy or like unsatisfying.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

I thought it was fun, fresh, and insightful. The best parts were the descriptions of various, famous and hidden, locations in Shanghai. I knew that this book had a bit of a scandalous reputation – not because it was especially racy, but because it was called empty, vapid, and pretentious, and its fame unmerited. Come on! So what if the narrator/author describes herself as super hot and talented? So what if she has both a Chinese and a foreign boyfriend, and loves to have sex with the latter, but
Dumpling Dumpling
Jun 28, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: taggery
Five Star Baby Medal Of Honour For Those Who ... I Don't Know, Aspire To Admire!? Was Suppose To Be A Happy Story Of Chinese Lit' Student F***odrome Of Erotic Vanity To Insanity Who, In The End, Failed To Deliver That Red, Red Wine UB40's Sliver Moment Of A Score. Better Luck Next Time!
(P. S. Would Not Recommend Story Of A Waitress Student With Impotent Husband And Married Journalist Lover As A Cover - Up ... Sort Of A Dragg, Dontcha Think!?)
Dumpling Dumpling
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Five Star Baby Medal Of Honour For Those Who ... I Don't Know, Aspire To Admire!? Was Suppose To Be A Happy Story Of Chinese Lit' Student F***odrome Of Erotic Vanity To Insanity Who, In The End, Failed To Deliver That Red, Red Wine UB40's Sliver Moment Of A Score. Better Luck Next Time!
(P. S. Would Not Recommend Story Of A Waitress Student With Impotent Husband And Married Journalist Lover As A Cover - Up ... Sort Of A Dragg, Dontcha Think!?)
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, fv
Totally not what I was expecting! In a good way.
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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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