‘A convincing picture of a place and time unrivalled for excitement and intrigue, with protagonists of real substance’.
French ConcessionXiao Bai
A richly atmospheric, fast-paced thriller teeming with femme fatales, criminals and double-agents
An acclaimed Chinese writer makes his English-language debut with this heart-stopping literary noir, a richly atmospheric tale of espionage and international intrigue, set in Shanghai in 1931—an electrifying, decadent world of love, violence and betrayal filled with femme fatales, criminals, revolutionaries and spies.
A boat arrives in Shanghai harbour, carrying an important official in the Nationalist Party and his striking wife, Leng. Amid the raucous sound of firecrackers, gunshots ring out; an assassin has shot the official and then himself. Leng disappears in the chaos.
Hsueh, a Franco-Chinese photographer aboard the same boat, became captivated by Leng’s beauty and unconcealed misery. Now, she is missing. But Hsueh is plagued by a mystery closer to home: he suspects his White Russian lover, Therese, is unfaithful. Why else would she disappear so often on their recent vacation? When he’s arrested for mysterious reasons in the French Concession and forced to become a police collaborator, he realizes that in the seamy, devious world of Shanghai, no one is who they appear to be.
‘Rich with historical detail, Xiao Bai's French Concession is a sensual, intellectual thriller - which like human memory, is pulled from the chaos of truth and lies, desire and regret.’
'The translation by Chenxin Jiang is breathtakingly natural…But the story itself…is the high point here. There is, perhaps, a touch of Graham Greene's espionage novels, lending the book a timeless feel…an intelligent, engaging and occasionally beautiful novel.'