Shanghai's most literary locales
Holy Trinity Cathedral
During the days of the international settlement, British novelist J.G. Ballard attended the prestigious boys’ school affiliated with this church. The historic red brick site may be where Ballard gained some of his inspiration for "Empire of the Sun," says Derek Sandhaus, chief editor at Earnshaw Books. “It’s an autobiographical work, but the character in the book isn’t called J.G.,” Sandhaus explains.
The book, which later became a Steven Spielberg movie, follows Ballard’s coming of age in Shanghai’s colonial era, followed by his internment during the Japanese invasion.
Corner of Jiujiang Lu and Jiangxi Lu, 九江路和江西路
Writer Eileen Chang of “Lust, Caution” fame once lived in this art deco apartment building near Jing’an Temple. In room 65, she wrote a series of novels including “Love in a Fallen City” and “Record of a Golden Yoke.” She also worked from a cafe in the lobby, now called Colorful Cafe, which displays Chang’s works and plays old Shanghai music.
Today, the book-lined cafe attracts Chang
fans such as Kelly Ye, 20, a Shanghai resident who recently made a
pilgrimage to honor her favorite writer. “Eileen Chang represents
Shanghai,” Ye says. “Plus, this is a good place to come with friends
for a coffee.”
195 Changde Lu, near Yuyuan Lu 常德路195号, 近豫园路 +86 21 6249 9006
British journalist Ralph Shaw, the author of “Sin City,” is just one of the many writers who passed through the former headquarters of this English-language newspaper. “In the pre-PRC days, it was probably the most important English language newspaper in China,” Sandhaus says.
Shaw wrote “Sin City” based on his coverage of Shanghai for the newspaper, as well as his experience as a Japanese prisoner of war. The newspaper moved into its Bund headquarters in 1924 and stayed there until closing in 1951.
17 on the Bund, 中山东一路17号/外滩17号
Former Foreigner YMCA building
“I like to see places I’ve read about in books,” says Tina Kanagaratnam, an organizer of the Shanghai International Literary Festival. Every time Kanagaratnam goes past the old YMCA building on Nanjing Lu, her thoughts turn to the Nien Cheng’s autobiography “Life and Death in Shanghai.” In the book, the daughter allegedly commits suicide by jumping from the building’s windowsill, but her mother later questions the claim realizing there wasn’t enough room on the ledge to stand. “Every time I go by, I can’t help but look up at the window and think about that moment,” Kanagaratnam says.
150 Nanjing Xi Lu, near People’s Square 南京西路150号, 近人民广场
This swatch of green near the North Bund appears in many of the popular Inspector Chen detective novels. Author Qiu Xiaolong, who grew up in Shanghai, features the city prominently in his works, and Huangpu Park is a popular backdrop.
In “A Loyal Character Dancer,” for example, the park is the site of several killings that Chen must investigate. “The park frequently comes in and out of his novels,” says Kanagaratnam. “It’s easy for me to picture when I’m reading because the Huangpu Park is somewhere I’ve been to a lot.”
North Bund, overlooking Huangpu River
Click here for more article on the Shanghai International Listerary Festival; here for more articles on historic Shanghai.