HFVBT Presents: Night In Shanghai

02_Night in Shanghai
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction
In 1936, classical pianist Thomas Greene is recruited to Shanghai to lead a jazz orchestra of fellow African-American expats. From being flat broke in segregated Baltimore to living in a mansion with servants of his own, he becomes the toast of a city obsessed with music, money, pleasure and power, even as it ignores the rising winds of war.
Song Yuhua is refined, educated, and bonded since age eighteen to Shanghai’s most powerful crime boss in payment for her father’s gambling debts. Outwardly submissive, she burns with rage and risks her life spying on her master for the Communist Party.
Only when Shanghai is shattered by the Japanese invasion do Song and Thomas find their way to each other. Though their union is forbidden, neither can back down from it in the turbulent years of occupation and resistance that follow. Torn between music and survival, freedom and commitment, love and world war, they are borne on an irresistible riff of melody and improvisation to Night in Shanghai’s final, impossible choice.
In this impressively researched novel, Nicole Mones not only tells the forgotten story of black musicians in the Chinese Jazz age, but also weaves in a stunning true tale of Holocaust heroism little-known in the West.

Praise for Night in Shanghai

“Based on true episodes and peppered with the lives and experiences of actual characters from the worlds of politics, music, the military, and the government, Mones’ engrossing historical novel illuminates the danger, depravity, and drama of this dark period with brave authenticity.” — Carol Haggas, Booklist
“Mones’ breathless and enlightening account of an African-American jazzman and his circle in prewar Shanghai… keep(s) the suspense mounting until the end.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Amid the plethora of World War II fiction, Mones’s fourth novel (after The Last Chinese Chef) offers a rarely seen African American and Asian perspective. Fans of works such as Amor Towles’s Rules of Civility will appreciate the use of jazz as the backdrop to a world at war. Historical fiction fans will not be disappointed.” — Library Journal
“With a magician’s sleight of hand, Nicole Mones conjures up the jazz-filled, complex, turbulent world of Shanghai just before World War II. A feast for the senses…the lives and loves of expatriate musicians intertwine with the growing tensions between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party, while the ominous threats from the Japanese stir the winds of war. A rich and thoroughly captivating read.” – Gail Tsukiyama, author of The Samurai’s Garden
“What an incredible thing Mones does in this novel of the compelling, sexy, rich and complicated world of historical Shanghai. Every page reveals some custom, some costume, some food, some trick of language that exposes a fascinating moment in history — the Japanese invasion on the eve of World War II. Mones weaves the multiple strands of her story much the way themes and melodies are woven into the jazz her protagonist plays, with subtle and suggestive undertones of human greed, power, and passion.” – Marisa Silver, author of Mary Coin
READ AN EXCERPT.

My Thoughts
 Night In Shanghai is the story of a Shanghai on the precipice of war, a man between worlds, and a woman of opposing loyalties.
Nicole Mones has managed to seamlessly interlace the stories of African American band leader, Thomas Greene, interpreter and servant, Song Yuhua, and the onslaught of WWII.
Having just one of the above mentioned aspects of this epic tale handled with the historical precision, lyrical voice, and descriptive eye of a seasoned storyteller, would be enough to delight any reader. Having all three components, makes for nothing less than a stellar reading experience.

Both Song and Thomas present very strong lead characters.  Each are dealing with the specters of servitude, the need to find themselves, and the quest for personal freedom against the backdrop of a land in turmoil.
The reader is allowed to experience each of these dynamic personas separately, making their coming together and the subsequent relationship and intrigue that follows all the more compelling.

The militaristic aspects of this read are handled on a personal level.  Instead of taking center stage and becoming the story; WWII is made a personal experience because it is seen, heard and felt through the characters,  rather than as its own entity.

This is a wonderful read that uses history to introduce readers to a Shanghai that they never knew!


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About the Author

03_Nicole MonesA newly launched textile business took Nicole Mones to China for the first time in 1977, after the end of the Cultural Revolution. As an individual she traded textiles with China for eighteen years before she turned to writing about that country. Her novels Night in Shanghai, The Last Chinese Chef, Lost in Translation and A Cup of Light are in print in more than twenty-two languages and have received multiple juried prizes, including the Kafka Prize (year’s best work of fiction by any American woman) and Kiriyama Prize (finalist; for the work of fiction which best enhances understanding of any Pacific Rim Culture).
Mones’ nonfiction writing on China has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Gourmet, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. She is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. For more information visir www.nicolemones.com

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