A Novel of Shanghai
Set in post-World War II Shanghai, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow follows the adventures of Wang Qiyao, a girl born of the longtong, the crowded, labyrinthine alleys of Shanghai's working-class neighborhoods.
Infatuated with the glitz and glamour of 1940s Hollywood, Wang Qiyao seeks fame in the Miss Shanghai beauty pageant, and this fleeting moment of stardom becomes the pinnacle of her life. During the next four decades, Wang Qiyao indulges in the decadent pleasures of pre-liberation Shanghai, secretly playing mahjong during the antirightist Movement and exchanging lovers on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. Surviving the vicissitudes of modern Chinese history, Wang Qiyao emerges in the 1980s as a purveyor of "old Shanghai"a living incarnation of a new, commodified nostalgia that prizes splendor and sophisticationonly to become embroiled in a tragedy that echoes the pulpy Hollywood noirs of her youth.
From the violent persecution of communism to the liberalism and openness of the age of reform, this sorrowful tale of old China versus new, of perseverance in the face of adversity, is a timeless rendering of our never-ending quest for transformation and beauty.
Wang Anyi attempts to encapsulate the essence of her metropolis amid decades of twentieth-century vicissitudes. The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai is unquestionably the most acclaimed novel by one of China's most well-known authors. Michael Berry's translation is executed with care and is true to the original style.
Robin Visser, assistant professor of Asian studies, University of North Carolina
A beautifully constructed cyclical narrative... the manner in which character types and events recur against the city's shifting backdrop is impossible to forget.
Michael Berry and Susan Chan Egan's graceful translation... helps us understand why Wang Anyi is one of the most critically acclaimed writers in the Chinese-speaking world.
A genuine classic.
Spellbinding, colorful... a page-turner right up to the end.
Certain to take a preeminent place in China's literary canon... The Song of Everlasting Sorrow is at last available in a masterful English translation.
Translators' Notes and Acknowledgments
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow
Afterword, by Michael Berry
Finalist, Man Booker International Prize 2011