This book of contemporary Chinese literature contains two separate novellas, Between Confidantes and In Memory of the Departedr by one of China's most prolific writers.
A beautifully wrought and intriguing novel set amidst Shanghai's leafy plane trees and softly lit streets, Between Confidantes recounts the story of a friendship torn apart by love and ambition. As Xiaomin struggles to make her way through a nursing career by day and work in a bar at night, her life as a single girl reveals the paradoxes and complexities faced by China's young women. Xiaomin's best friend An'an is married and has a lovely home, but does not realize how vulnerable her happiness and marriage really are until she leaves Shanghai for a few weeks.
Desire and loyalty are set against each other as Xiaomin tries to figure out what the rules of success mean in contemporary China. Her heart-felt memories of a childhood spent with her grandmother, and her current dilemmas weave themselves through this compelling novel. While exploring the boundaries of her own morality, Xiaomin discovers new definitions of friendship and loyalty.
In Memory of the Departed
In this gripping tale of love, betrayal and revolution, Chen Danyan takes the reader on an extraordinary journey through the complexities wrought by history on a mother, her daughter and their circle of friends in Shanghai during the tumultuous years between 1944 and 1978. Chen Danyan's moving descriptions bring to life the hardships of post-war China as well as the difficulty of making sense in a world whose moral, political and social boundaries were shifting with impossible speed.
Recounted through the often painful recollections of her family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, Yao Yao's life runs a parallel course to the complicated and often tumultuous political coming of age of China. Yao Yao's mother's glamorous life in the world of the theatre becomes one of questioned loyalties, treachery and real danger during a dark political time in Shanghai. Yao Yao's own tragic story is unraveled through the voices of her past. Her heart-breaking attempts to navigate her way through her childhood and through a time of relentless suspicion and political complexity, makes both beautiful and harrowing reading.
Chen Danyan's depiction of the desperate search for meaning and happiness in a period of unpredictable change and conflict beyond the grasp of its victims, bring to life a devastating time in China's history as well as the difficulties and challenges of growing up and finding truth.