The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai
By Ruiyan Xu
(St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312586546, 352pp.)
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
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A dazzling debut novel about the power of love and language...
Li Jing, a successful, happily married businessman, is dining at a grand hotel in Shanghai when a gas explosion shatters the building. A shard of glass neatly pierces Li Jing's forehead—obliterating his ability to speak Chinese. The only words that emerge from his mouth are faltering phrases of the English he spoke as a child growing up in Virginia. Suddenly Li Jing finds himself unable to communicate with his wife, Meiling, whom he once courted with beautiful words, as she struggles to keep his business afloat and maintain a brave face for their son. The family turns to an American neurologist, Rosalyn Neal, who is as lost as Li Jing--whom she calls James--in this bewitching, bewildering city, where the two form a bond that Meiling does not need a translator to understand.
RUIYAN XU, who was born in Shanghai but came to the U.S. at age 10 without speaking a word of English, graduated from Brown University with honors in creative writing. She won the 2004 Hochstadt Award from Hedgebrook and a 2005 Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists; and has been awarded residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Jentel, Ragdale and the Anderson Center. An excerpt of The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai was published by the Great River Review. Xu lives in Brooklyn.