Saturday, January 19, 2008

Our January Author: Lisa See

Lisa See, the author of this month's book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, has her own website, LisaSee.com (be sure to check out the Events section for an up-coming San Marino event!). Bloomsbury.com offers an article by See about her interest in nushu and an audio interview with the author is available here. Another interview with odd bits can be found at WaterBridge,

Bob Dylan has been a huge influence on my writing. He knows how to tell a whole story in just a few minutes and he has a wonderful way with words. Of course, the guy can’t sing, but you can’t have everything.
OK, not really seeing the Dylan connection in Snow Flower, heh, but not knocking the insight-- and looking ahead to her next book check out this interview at the The Elegant Variation,
The new novel’s tentatively called Shanghai Girls. It starts in 1937 with two sisters in Shanghai. They come to Los Angeles in arranged marriages. (We often read about arranged marriages in other countries, but a lot of people don’t know that we had and still have them here in the U.S.) They live in a place called China City, which was built from the leftover sets from the filming of “The Good Earth.” So in some ways Shanghai Girls will be an exploration of what it means to be Chinese or American, and what is real and what is just fa├žade. I’ll also be looking at the Confession Program, which took place in the 1950s, when the U.S. government targeted Chinese to try to get them to confess that they were here illegally and at the same time rat out their friends, family members, and neighbors as being Communists.
I wasn't much interested in the discussion of footbinding in the book, but NPR and the BBC both have good backgrounders. I was more obsessed with the discussion of nushu. World of Nushu has a wealth of information, including pictures from Jian Yong Prefecture. Omniglot and Ancient Scripts have some nice side by side comparisons with Chinese and this article may be a bit academic for some, but it answered some of my questions about how nushu functioned in women's society.
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