Publisher: Linen Press
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
Release date: 01 04 2017
Price*:Kindle £ 4.31(GBP)/ Paperback £9.99 (GBP)
Kindle $ 5.82(USD)/ Paperback $12.50 (USD)
Pages: ~ 290
You can get this book here:
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Amazon UK (Paperback)
Linen Press Website
Description of the book: 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.
I am very excited about my stop on this great Book Blog Tour, and I would like to share with you all an extract from the book. ENJOY!!! 🙂
Author note: This excerpt comes from chapter 14 of the novel. Blossom is a housemaid to the Song family. Auntie Wen is a blind pimp and Blossom’s only family in Shanghai.
On her days off, Blossom normally went into town to gaze longingly at the clothes on display at Nanking Road. Today she had promised to visit Auntie Wen in her tiny apartment inside the walled city. She wound her way through the narrow alleys, sidestepping the rubbish left to block the gutters.
Inside, the apartment was dark and humid. Her aunt had an insatiable need for warmth and, though the coal tripod glowed white-hot in the darkness, Auntie Wen was wrapped in a thick quilt, eating watermelon seeds and spitting the wet shells on to the coals.
‘Sit down,’ she said. ‘Tell me what’s new with you.’
‘The Young Master doesn’t come home any more. He’s forgotten me.’
‘What makes you think he ever gave you a thought in the first place? Women like us are toys for men like him. If it’s a man you need, come and work for me.’
‘I don’t need help finding a man,’ Blossom replied with scorn. ‘Cook will be bedding me now that the housekeeper is leaving.’
‘Where is she going?’
‘Home. Her brother was killed and his wife ran away. Now there’s no one to take care of the parents.’
Auntie Wen released a long belly laugh. ‘Let me guess. The wife was having an affair and the lover killed the husband?’
‘No.’ Blossom’s voice became grave. ‘The letter said a Japanese soldier out on patrol killed him. It said war is coming.’
Auntie Wen’s breath suddenly blew hot on Blossom’s forehead. ‘Where does the family live?’
‘I don’t know. Somewhere far away in the north.’
‘Yes! That’s it. How did you know?’
‘Mukden is a Japanese stronghold now. If they invade Shanghai, it will be from the north.’
‘Why would the Japanese invade?’
‘How ignorant you are! The Japanese are animals. Believe me, I know.’
‘Let them come! Shanghai has an army garrison and our soldiers are strong.’
‘Stupid girl! Don’t you know anything? The garrison was emptied, a concession demanded by the devils as the price to end the last battle. Don’t you remember Chapei burning?’
Blossom was flustered now. ‘I was a child then.’
‘You were eleven, old enough to know better.’
‘I remember the smoke and the ashes that blew into my eyes.’
‘And me?’ Auntie Wen asked in a low voice. ‘Do you remember I stayed in your house?’
Blossom took a moment to reply. ‘I do. Mama said you had a fever and needed to rest. That was why I had to give up my bed and sleep with Mama and Baba. You made them close all the shutters and darken the lamps. You cried every morning when the sun came up.’
‘It was all I could see by then. Those flashes of light were like needles through my eyes.’
‘I thought you were born blind!’ Blossom exclaimed.
Auntie Wen struck hard with both hands, pummeling the girl to the ground, slapping her so hard, her lip burst.
‘Stop, Auntie Wen! Why are you hurting me?’
‘I wasn’t born this way! Japanese soldiers did this to me. They raped me and then they made sure I could never report them.’
The blind woman loosened her grip on Blossom. The girl scrambled away as far as she could from the old woman who sat wheezing on the floor. So Auntie Wen was just as dirty as the broken girl. Dirtier even, to be entered by the Eastern devils. No wonder Blossom had never been told the truth.
‘They could have killed me,’ Auntie Wen said to herself. ‘I supposed I should be grateful they didn’t.’
They sat like that for a long time. Then the voices in the street grew louder. A new night in Shanghai was beginning.
‘Don’t laugh at your housekeeper,’ Auntie Wen said suddenly. ‘She may be headed toward her death. Now help me get up.’
They wandered the streets, down to the alley where the food carts stood. Auntie Wen moved slowly and stumbled often even though she knew every crack and crevice of this part of town. She leaned heavily on Blossom’s arm and the girl’s strong back began to ache.
‘Do you want to eat?’ Auntie Wen asked.
‘I’ve no appetite now.’
‘Then leave me. I have work to do.’
About the Author:
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.
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*-the price was taken from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com at current date. Price might change at your time of purchase. Some of the links used in this post for book purchases are affiliates.