However, today I am very excited to be hosting my spot on the The Dancing Girl and the Turtle blog tour, celebrating this wonderful new book by Karen Kao.
Karen Kao is the child of Chinese immigrants who settled in the US in the 1950s. Her debut novel has been praised by critics from London to Hong Kong for its accurate portrayal of the oppression experienced by women in 1930s Shanghai.
A rape. A war. A society where women are bought and sold but no one can speak of shame. Shanghai 1937. The courtesan culture. Violence throbs at the heart of The Dancing Girl and the Turtle.
Song Anyi is on the road to Shanghai and freedom when she is raped and left for dead. The silence and shame that mark her courageous survival drive her to escalating self-harm and prostitution. From opium dens to high-class brothels, Anyi dances on the edge of destruction while China and Japan go to war. Hers is the voice of every woman who fights for independence against overwhelming odds.
The Dancing Girl and the Turtle is one of four interlocking novels set between 1929 and 1954, The Shanghai Quartet, which span a tumultuous time in Chinese history.
And today I am delighted to be featuring Karen Kao on my blog, to talk all things literary inspiration, representing the violence endured by women at the heart of 1930s China, and the inability to speak when it is needed most.
What was the inspiration behind The Dancing Girl and the Turtle?
My father is a storyteller. He was born in 1923 in Shanghai and lived there until the Communists took over in 1949. He used to tell me stories about his childhood, our extended family, anything he could remember though I suspect he made stuff up just as I have.
Tell us a bit more about Song Anyi. Do you have anything in common with her?
Song Anyi is a rebel: smart, feisty and ambitious. But she’s repressed, too. By the male-dominated culture of 1930s China, the intensely face-saving attitudes of her own family and the rape she endures. Anyi needs help but she doesn’t know the words to ask for it. That inability to speak when it counts the most is something I suffer from as well.
What made you want to write about the intense and troubling issues that are explored in The Dancing Girl and the Turtle?
Rape and self-harm are acts of violence mostly against women. 1930s China was a violent place. I wanted my novel to be true to that period of time and the ordinary Chinese who lived and died in Shanghai. But, most of all, I wanted to write about the power of shame and the damage silence can do.
What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Read! As much as you can and as widely as possible. Other writers can teach you more than any workshop or university degree.
Sum up The Dancing Girl and the Turtle in 3 words!
Old Shanghai Noir.
Thank you so much, Karen, for appearing on my blog!
Make sure you guys check out the other spots on the blog tour <3
Buy The Dancing Girl and the Turtle here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0993599702
Check out Karen Kao here: http://inkstonepress.com
Until next time :)