2017 Finalist

Taras Grescoe

Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue on the Eve of the Second World War

Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue on the Eve of the Second World Warby Taras Grescoe

On the eve of the Second World War, the foreign-controlled port of Shanghai was the rendezvous for the twentieth century’s most outlandish adventurers, all under the watchful eye of the fabulously wealthy Sir Victor Sassoon. Emily “Mickey” Hahn, the legendary New Yorker writer who would cover China for nearly fifty years, would play an integral part in opening up Asia to the west. But at the height of the depression, Mickey had just arrived in Shanghai, nursing a broken heart after a disappointing love affair. After checking in to Sassoon’s glamorous Cathay Hotel, Mickey is absorbed into the social swirl of expats drawn to pre-war China, among them Ernest Hemingway, Harold Acton, and the colourful gangster Morris “Two-Gun” Cohen, who once lived in Saskatoon and Edmonton and later retired to Montreal. When Mickey meets Zau Sinmay, a Chinese poet from an illustrious family, she discovers the real Shanghai through his eyes: a city of rich colonials, triple agents, opium smokers, displaced Chinese peasants, and increasingly desperate white Russian and Jewish refugees. But danger lurks on the horizon, and Mickey barely makes it out alive as the brutal Japanese occupation destroys the seductive world of pre-war Shanghai and Mao Tse-tung’s Communist Party rises to power in China.

Award-winning and bestselling author Taras Grescoe, with his trademark style and verve, brings this rich history to life in all its beautiful and intimate detail.

Taras Grescoe is the author of six books, including Sacre Blues, The End of Elsewhere, The Devil’s Picnic, Bottomfeeder, and Straphanger. Bottomfeeder won the Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-fiction, the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Award for Literary Food Writing, and it was a finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Straphanger was longlisted for the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non fiction, and won the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction. Grescoe lives in Montreal.

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