Shanghai: the most populous city in the world, the jewel of China, a city with a glorious past and an even brighter future as a global alpha city and center of culture, finance and entertainment. With a centuries-long history as a cosmopolitan hub between the East and the West, and no shortage of dramatic historical events to color the memories of its inhabitants, tales of and about Shanghai flow as readily as the river that runs through it. This is a city of contrasts, a city under construction, a city full of dreamers with stories that demand telling.

Editor's Picks

Historical Fiction

Empire of the Sun

JG Ballard

Before the Spielberg film starring a young Christian Bale, there was the novel: a story of a young British boy raised in the expatriate luxury of pre-war Shanghai, only to see it all come apart. A profound tale of war and innocence, and a monument to the Shanghai that once was, before the war and consequent waning of the colonial era transformed the city into something new.

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Literary Fiction

Five Star Billionaire

Tash Aw

A suburban girl seeking a factory job, a nascent pop star who parties too hard, a businesswoman and a poet, and a mysterious billionaire. The lives of these characters converge and intersect in contemporary Shanghai, the jewel of China, a city exhibiting a miraculous combination of grit and glamour that reflects the endless facets of its striving inhabitants. Dazzling, thoughtful, eminently readable and an finely sketched portrait of Shanghai today.

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Tales Of Old Shanghai

Graham Earnshaw

A visual accounting of Shanghai during 1920s and 1930s, when the city was regaled far and wide as the "Paris of the East." Earnshaw tells the story of old Shanghai through newspaper clippings, vintage advertisements, stamps, flyers and marginalia that combine to form a powerful portrait of the city as it used to be. It's a scrapbook elegy to a city that once was, told in the most credible way possible -- through primary sources.

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Young Adult

The Adventures of Tintin: The Blue Lotus


An enjoyable -- albeit occasionally suffering from dated attitudes toward race, revealing the less considerate norms of the period when it was written -- story for readers of all ages: a classic Tintin mystery largely set in the heart of pre-war Shanghai, and one of the first bona fide graphic novels. When treated as a work of its times, a fast and entertaining tale of adventure in a place far from home.

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Literary Fiction

When We Were Orphans

Kazuo Ishiguro

A remarkable work by Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, this is the story of a boy orphaned in pre-war Shanghai at a young age. Back home, in England, the boy grows into a talented detective, who in the shadow of the Second World War yearns to apply his abilities to the greatest mystery of them all -- why his parents disappeared.

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