The Book of Shanghai

Edited by Dai Congrong & Dr Jin Li

Out now!


As the end of the world arrives in downtown Shanghai, one man’s only wish is to return a library book...


When a publisher agrees to let a star author use his company’s attic to write in, little does he suspect this will become the author’s permanent residence...


As Shanghai succumbs to a seemingly apocalyptic deluge, a man takes refuge in his bathtub, only to find himself, moments later, floating through the city's streets...


The characters in this literary exploration of one of the world’s biggest cities are all on a mission. Whether it is responding to events around them, or following some impulse of their own, they are defined by their determination – a refusal to lose themselves in a city that might otherwise leave them anonymous, disconnected, alone. 


From the neglected mother whose side-hustle in collecting sellable waste becomes an obsession, to the schoolboy determined to end a long-standing feud between his family and another, these characters show a defiance that reminds us why Shanghai – despite its hurtling economic growth –remains an epicentre for individual creativity.


Translated by: Lee Anderson, Yu Yan Chen, Jack Hargreaves, Paul Harris, Frances Nichol, Christopher Macdonald, Carson Ramsdell, Josh Stenberg, Katherine Tse, and Helen Wang.


One of Translated Lit's Most Anticipated Books of April 2020.

Praise for The Book of Shanghai:

"Evoking multiple facets of a country that the whole world is fascinated by... The Book of Shanghai is an eclectic mix of new and old, of unfathomable scale and minute detail." - LARB China

"Editors Jin Li and Dai Congrong and the translators deserve to be thanked for putting together a collection of stories set in present-day Shanghai that resonate across time and cultures." - China Daily

"Mesmerising and infinitely re-readable... If you ever needed convincing that the most promising writing of the 21st century is coming from China, here's your evidence." - Books and Bao

"It is hard to find anyone who really knows Shanghai. This collection is a start." - Asian Review of Books

"Teeming with profound reflections, offbeat humour and unsettling observations, the individual stories hang perfectly together to create a vivid panorama of snapshots of life in a fast-moving city." - Translating Women

"And always, there is Shanghai: looming, and colouring these unique and hypnotic tales with a presence ever-shifting." - Lunate 

"The Book of Shanghai is an eclectic mix of old and new, a burst of genres, and a juxtaposition of different lifestyles in a bustling city where many characters are gripped by loneliness." - The Book Satchel

"A brilliant collection which gives so many varied pictures of Shanghai." - Juliet Wilson

"Each of these stories breathed life and character into a city I knew relatively little about." - Reading with KT

"The book functions like a clever concept album... to create an impression of a city that is more of a feeling than a concrete picture." - Ellie Hawkes 

"The stories are varied, interesting, and offer the casual reader some insight into this large and foreign city." - Review Number 9 

"For all the darkness... it's still a beautiful read, and the stories reveal a place poised between destruction and construction, where people try to make their lives and make connections and sometimes find that rare and wonderful moment" - Quick Sip Reviews


Listen to an interview with Chen Qiufan about his story 'State of Trance' for BBC World Service.

Listen to Series Editor Karen Wang on the Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast.


Read an interview with Chen Qiufan about his story 'State of Trance', Shanghai, speculative fiction and threats to humanity at PEN Transmissions.

Read an interview with Chen Qiufan at Radii China.

Read how Shanghai became a city of literary experimentation by co-editor Dr Jin Li, at Literary Hub.

Read 'Ah Fang's Lamp' by Wang Anyi for free at Bookanista.

Read 'Suzhou River' by Cai Jun, in Chinese and English, for free at The Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing Book Club.

Read an exclusive blog post by Chen Qiufan about his story and how it resonates with the weird times we are living in.

Read about The Book of Shanghai at the University of Manchester website.

Buy Hard Copy

Retail Price £9.99

Online Price £9.00

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Book Details

16 Apr 2020