Categories
Hong Kong Shanghai War

Amah

Nian is a servant in my novel, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. She’s new to the Song household, the lowest in rank among the servants. Song Anyi arrives at the family home – more dead than alive following a vicious rape – and Nian becomes her amah. I never had an amah although both my […]

Categories
Family ghosts Shanghai

A Death in the Family

Last month, my Aunt Ruth died. She was my father’s only sister and his favorite sibling. We called her Guma (姑妈) (father’s sister), just as her children called my father jiujiu (舅舅) (mother’s brother). The Chinese are very particular about family relationships. There are words to distinguish an older brother from a younger one and […]

Categories
Family ghosts Shanghai War

The House on Avenue Haig

My father was born in 1923. His parents named him Shen Bo (申伯) which, in the local dialect means first son in Shanghai. He grew up in a house on Avenue Haig (now called Huashan Lu). This was the westernmost edge of the French Concession. foreign shanghai This is a map of Shanghai in 1929, […]