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Tomorrow in Shanghai
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2022
Brief Descriptions

"In a vibrant and illuminating follow-up to her award-winning story collection, Useful Phrases for Immigrants, May-lee Chai explores a complex blend of cultures spanning China, the Chinese diaspora in America, and in the world at large-revealing the complex schisms in the globalized world. Her stories illuminate the divides between rural and urban, male and female, rich and poor, and those in-between-always tracking the nuanced, knotty, and intricate exchanges of interpersonal and institutional power. Chai's stories are essential reading for an increasingly globalized world"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

A short story collection exploring cultural complexities in China, the Chinese diaspora in America, and the world at large.

In a vibrant and illuminating follow-up to her award-winning story collection, Useful Phrases for Immigrants, May-lee Chai’s latest collection Tomorrow in Shanghai explores multicultural complexities through lenses of class, wealth, age, gender, and sexuality—always tracking the nuanced, knotty, and intricate exchanges of interpersonal and institutional power. 

These stories transport the reader, variously: to rural China, where a city doctor harvests organs to fund a wedding and a future for his family; on a vacation to France, where a white mother and her biracial daughter cannot escape their fraught relationship; inside the unexpected romance of two Chinese-American women living abroad in China; and finally, to a future Chinese colony on Mars, where an aging working-class woman lands a job as a nanny. Chai's stories are essential reading for an increasingly globalized world.

- (Lightning Source, Inc. Ebooks)

Author Biography

May-lee Chai is the author of the American Book Award-winning story collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants and ten other books. Her prize-winning short prose has been published widely, including in the New England ReviewMissouri ReviewSeventeenThe RumpusZYZZYVA, the Los Angeles TimesDallas Morning News, and the San Francisco Chronicle. The recipient of an NEA fellowship in prose, Chai is an associate professor in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University.
- (Lightning Source, Inc. Ebooks)

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Reviews Via Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Chai (Useful Phrases for Immigrants) showcases in her insightful collection protagonists attempting to figure out their roles in their families and careers. In the gritty and poignant title story, a young Shanghai doctor uneasily travels to the Chinese countryside to extract organs after a prisoner's execution—"not an ideal job," he admits, but he's deep in debt. The doctor gives the condemned man a sedative to avoid a second shot from the firing squad, but refrains from watching the execution, and instead reflects on his lost youth and turns up his nose at the uncouth rural guards. In "Life on Mars," set in the late 1990s, teenager Guo Yu describes his new life in Denver in alien terms after relocating from China ("It was both exactly like and nothing like the America of the movies he'd seen," Yu narrates, struck by the "jade-colored" cornfields). Yu toils at a restaurant job over the summer, though a tutoring gig for the cook's son offers a glimmer of hope. "Hong's Mother" follows a white woman married to a Chinese man who neglects to defend the couple's children from racism in their small Midwestern town. At 19, their daughter, Hong, is dismayed her mother is going to visit her in France while she's studying abroad, but goes to extreme lengths to ensure her mother has a good trip, feeling yet again she doesn't measure up. Throughout, Chai commits brilliantly to the characters' competing drives for self-determination and approval, and conveys them with perfect subtlety. This slim but wide-ranging work is a great achievement. (Aug.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

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