More Updates: HK Literary Fest, SZ, GZ, Instagram…

Been busy lately.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who came to the excellent panel at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival! I was honored to be a part of the event, and add to the conversation on ‘Cross-Cultural Love’.

Anyway, I dare say I think it went well. The audience seemed to enjoy hearing what we had to say, and I actually think it was a success. It was an interesting talk, most of all due to all those other excellent writers to meet.

As well as the moderator David Nunan, it was great to meet the very intelligent Marshall Moore. Nice to see Shannon Young and Susan Blumberg-Kason once again.

The event was at the intriguing building known as the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, and I shall share via Shannon’s Instagram account here:

 

While at it, here’s Susan’s Instagram. Feel free to like and follow!

 

 

 

There I am. And now, back to my new pic-sharing blogging strategy of just sharing previous uploads from the app. Readers rest assured you are enjoying the best of these…

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What do you think, makes for a good profile pic~? #HKLitFest

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South China Morning Blues: Promotional Update(s)

Hello readers and prospective readers, time for an update.

(Because it went so well in my last Chinglish post, I have decided to just link to my Instagram instead of reuploading pictures. Feel free to heart!)

I have been through a lot since my book was finally published for reals. It’s been quite the busy time, organizing event after event, hoping that people will be interested in said events, and generally promoting myself. Self-promotion often being as shameless as possible.

The first weekend after the book I had a launch party and signing here in Shenzhen, and the Book Exchange group in which expats meet up to exchange hard-to-find English language books.

I think the flyer turned out very well, if I do say so myself 🙂

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I had a reading, and even sold a few.

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#BookLaunch Success - lookin' smug?

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My #reading. And dare I say think it went well

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Let me state, that my book is officially published in Hong Kong and future Western outlets to come. You know all the Hong Kong bookstores that carry it.

The mainland, however, is a different story. Legit publishers tend not to deal with undeveloped countries like so. Therefore, if I want distribution in cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou, I need to do it myself. Treat it as an import, if your wondering about censors, and it is doable. Obviously, this is not an English-speaking country — unlike Hong Kong — but I think it’s worth doing.

Hence, I arranged a meeting with the bosses at Old Heaven Books in the hip OCT neighborhood of Shenzhen and they bought a good number of copies. My first for sale in China. More to come.

Felt good to see it on a bookshelf.

 

 

Then came the big time.

This very week begins the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, and on Sunday @ 3:30 yours truly will be in a panel on the topic of cross-cultural love with several other great writers…

 

http://www.festival.org.hk/program/cross-cultural-love/

Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of expat memoirs set in China, however many of these fail to depict romantic relationships.

But when foreigners arrive in China and Hong Kong, these amorous connections are often a central part of setting down new roots– and they are becoming more and more common. Susan Blumberg-Kason, Ray HechtShannon Young and Marshall Moore address writing about cross-cultural relationships from all angles.

 

Last Friday I was invited to an opening party for writers affiliated with the festival, and had an excellent time! Although a bit intimidating to be around such well-regarded authors, I made the best of it and hopefully left a good impression. I met Shannon Young in person, author of Year of the Fire Dragons. Susan Blumberg-Kason, of Good Chinese Wife fame, wasn’t in town yet but I look forward to seeing her at the panel next week. Please check out the link above and I hope you can make it.

And it was great to see my humble book stacked up against these great works in such an official capacity:

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Book of the week – South China Morning Blues

(The following review was posted on Susan Bloomberg-Kason’s website, author of the engaging tell-all memoir Good Chinese Wife. I am honored that she appreciated my novel, and in several weeks we will be participating in a panel at the Hong Kong literary festival. Please see her website and the links below for more.)

 

http://www.susanbkason.com/2015/10/04/book-of-the-week-south-china-morning-blues/

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For almost a year, I’d been hearing about Ray Hecht’s forthcoming novel, South China Morning Blues (Blacksmith Books, 2015), which comes out from the publisher on October 15 and on Amazon later this year. When the author sent me a review copy, I found myself pausing at every break during the day and evening to get in more reading. This is not one to miss!

Most China novels and memoirs take place in other regions besides the Pearl River Delta. Hecht’s book is different in that it’s separated into three sections named after cities: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. I haven’t been to Shenzhen in 17 years and Guangzhou in 19, but felt like I was being transported back to a place I once knew well and one I’d visited a couple times, respectively. And I think I know Hong Kong well, so was excited he kept that one for the end.

Through his writing, Hecht shows he’s an adept observer of life in southern China and Hong Kong, capturing the spirit of each place he writes about and the issues that define these places. His twelve characters appear throughout the book and each brings a different perspective. There are English teachers, a journalist, artist, businessman, and a young woman who marries an old Taiwanese sugar daddy, to name some.

The format of the book is quite clever. As I mentioned above, it’s broken into three sections according to locale. But within each section, the chapters are arranged according to one of the twelve characters. Hecht doesn’t label the chapters with the characters’ names, but rather by the Chinese character of their zodiac animal. My short-term memory is not the greatest, but I found I had no trouble keeping up with which character was which.

It was fascinating for me to read about dating in Shenzhen and Guangzhou since I had heard some stories from my ex-husband’s friends who moved south to Shenzhen for better working opportunities. But I never knew foreigners who lived in Guangzhou back then, so that part was new to me. And the Hong Kong section was fun and completely realistic with many of the characters ending up at a rave on Lamma Island.

This is a dense book, yet a quick read. If you have trouble keeping the characters straight–which you shouldn’t have since I seemed to manage all right–you can always flip back to the list of characters and their zodiac animal at the front of the book. The stories are not always happy (in fact, more often than not they are pretty depressing), but they are realistic and tackle issues that many young people–expats, locals, and those who relocate from other parts of China–face every day.

The book is available for a GoodReads raffle until October 14. Click here to enter. I’ll be appearing with Ray at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival on Sunday, November 8 at 3:30pm. For more tickets and more information, click here.

 

 

Book Review: Good Chinese Wife

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szdaily.sznews.com/html/2014-09/16/content_3005971.htm

“GOOD Chinese Wife” is a new memoir published by Sourcebooks, and is a poignant tale expats should enjoy about the overlap of China and the West. Susan Blumberg-Kason details her unfortunate marriage to a Chinese music scholar, as they meet while studying in Hong Kong and then travel to his hometown in Hubei Province before eventually settling in San Francisco, California.

The central question posed by their troubled relationship is whether their differences were due to culture or personality. Interracial marriages may have some problems, but are certain individual defects masked by the excuse of culture?

As their relationship begins, Blumberg-Kason appreciates her future husband’s background. She studies Mandarin as a postgraduate in Hong Kong in the early 1990s, and stays there through the time of the handover in 1997, and for a reader familiar with South China it can be very interesting to compare that time with the current era.

The shy student falls in love with Cai, a handsome divorcee and ethnomusicology major, and the fact that he quickly escalates into topics of marriage on early dates seems to be a source of attraction for her. In that sense, the cultural difference was an advantage.

The book goes over her travels to the Hidden River village in Hunan and subsequent meetings with Cai’s family, and serves as a good introduction to Chinese culture for readers new to the subject of China. Blumberg-Kason is very knowledgeable, and the book is also peppered with quotes from Ban Zhao’s traditional “Instruction for Chinese Women and Girls” which contrasts well with the narrative.

The memoir deals with many hard truths, and Blumberg-Kason can be very frank with personal matters. The first sex scene comes as a shock to the reader, not because of graphic depictions, but because of the realization that the couple is engaged to be married yet they have not even reached that intimate stage. When she does get married, at the young age of 24, their passionless first night together during a honeymoon in a Hong Kong hotel further foreshadows more troubles.

Time and time again, as the book progresses, Blumberg-Kason questions herself and accommodates Cai’s behavior, yet he doesn’t seem to care about his wife’s concerns. From the isolating vacations in his home town, to skipping out on going to an import foreign-language bookstore in Shanghai and an interest in “yellow films” over his own wife, the reader wonders why she comes across so weak and why she puts up with him.

Pregnant, they move to America and the situation worsens. He does not adapt well to living abroad, and constantly complains to her. Though Blumberg-Kason claims he is a good husband during her pregnancy, he grows more distant after their son is born and the book darkens in tone. In particular, when he gives her a STD and then denies it, the situation couldn’t be worse. Always trying to keep the peace, she repeatedly states that she didn’t want to know the truth about his private life.

It soon becomes obvious that their marriage will not work, and yet it takes a long time for the book to finally reach the point when Blumberg-Kason stands up for herself and leaves him. Cai even says to her: “You’re lucky I don’t hit you.” After she gives birth to their son, he tells her “Women are dirty.”

It is a sad state that this is a nonfiction memoir, and so many real women stay in such relationships for far too long. Perhaps there is a lesson there about not rushing into marriage.

“Good Chinese Wife” is well-written and reads like a page-turner novel, although it does get stuck in details at times. If it were a novel, the passages about student dances and descriptions of clothes and food might be cut due to not being relevant to the plot. But the book is a memoir, which is dense with everything Blumberg-Kason has chosen to share.

This book is recommended for readers interested in contemporary Chinese culture, as well as for anyone who has ever experienced problems stemming from cultural differences.

“Good Chinese Wife” is available at bookstores in Hong Kong and on Amazon.

For more from this author, see Susan Blumberg-Kason’s blog at susanbkason.com.

Susan Blumberg-Kason photo