Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog reviews of Chenxi

I know I said I'd finished with 'Chenxi' - well, I have! I just wanted to post two 'reviews' I received from people during my blog tour. Here they are:

"I can tell you as an Asian that Sally Rippin nailed 1980s China/Asia. There was a point while reading the novel when I wanted to cry because I was so happy that although Sally is a wai guo ren, she captured 1980s China/Asia so honestly (both the good and the bad) but without being patronizing.
I want to read this novel all over again. I read the North American edition and I think I will be receiving the Australian edition in the mail soon. Sally says the Australian edition is different, so I want to read it." - Tarie

"Dear Sally,
I loved going on tour with you through your site. I am one of the many groupies of your book Chenxi and the Foreigner, and I loved how you took us on a journey to the book's very inception, Shanghai, 1980s, complete with pictures from your dad! What I loved most about your book was its ability to capture the heady delirious excitement of first love, and its rather sexy and complex ASIAN male protagonist. Most love interests in young adult popular fiction (as opposed to young adult literature, which is what your book is) are focused on portraying white middle-class boys that look like Ashton Krutcher with blonde hair. You portray another culture with great sensitivity and kindness. Thank you for a brilliant book!" - Alice

Friday, September 4, 2009

blog tour - that's it from me!

Well, I have come to the last photo I wanted to post on my blog tour. Many readers have asked me what happened to the 'real' Chenxi. Well, he is alive and well and working as a full-time painter in Austria. This is one of his more recent works and the painting I describe in my novel. For more about the 'real' Chenxi as opposed to the invented Chenxi (who I write about in my novel) you can read Tarie's great interview with me tomorrow, which is the last post of my blog tour.
Thanks to Joanna, the Book Muncher, Cindy, Greenbean and Steph for hosting me this week. And
thanks to everyone who has followed - especially Rach.
Hopefully see some of you at: intothewardrobe tomorrow!
And for the blogger who asked to see all the covers so far, here they are. There are two more versions to come from Germany and Belgium. It's always exciting to see how different they can be. I'd be interested to know
your favourite!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blog tour Day Three

Here are a few photos of Shenyang, a small rural village in central China just outside of Xian - the city known for its Terracotta Warriors (or as my son used to call them, the Terracotta Worriers - what are they worrying about, Mummy?)
As a student, I spent two weeks staying there with the 'real' Chenxi's family and much of what I write about Anna's experience there mirrors my own. Like Anna, I was the first foreigner that many of the locals had seen and even a simple walk down the street would cause all kinds of commotion and uproar, much more extreme than the attention I received in Shanghai. And, like Anna, during my stay in Shenyang I had to endure the humiliation of the public showers, where I was praised by all the other women lathering up under the jets of lukewarm water for my whiteness and fatness - sure signs of prosperity!
'Xiao Pang Pang' or 'Little Fat Fat' was the nickname I earned myself in China. While this may have been considered a compliment by the Chinese, many of whom had lived through years of famine in the not too distant past, it was not exactly the kind of nickname a nineteen year old Australian girl had been hoping for. I had been hoping for something more along the lines of 'Slender Willow' or 'Shining Treasure' but 'Small Fat Fat' it was.
If you ask nicely, I might post a couple of photos of 'Small Fat Fat' and 'The Real Chenxi' later in the week. Then again, you might choose to avoid the disappointment. Neither of us are nearly as glamourous as Anna or the made-up Chenxi. :-)
This last photo is the bus we caught from Xian to Shenyang along with a few dozen live chickens strapped to the roof.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blog tour Day Two

Day Two of my blog tour and here are a couple more photos from my time in Shanghai. This is the marketplace where much of the novel takes place. Anna rides through this marketplace each day to get to the Art Academy and at first is horrified by all the blood and gore and filth of the meat section. Like many sheltered Westerners, she is only used to seeing her meat under plastic, or preferably already cooked. Her father continues to eat this way, in fancy Western restaurants, where the meat is imported and the wine is from home. As far as he is concerned, if he can transport his comfortable life intact without having to deal too much with the locals, well, that suits him fine. 
Anna believes herself to be more adventurous. She wants to taste the local life and before long is eating at the street stalls and making friends with the locals - despite her father's warnings. She ignores his warnings as over-protectiveness, but it turns out that it is her friends who are more in danger than she.
The top photo is of the street stall where I would regularly eat my breakfast as a student in Shanghai. On freezing winter mornings, there was nothing better than a bowl of steaming tofu soup with a fried chive pancake to accompany it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shanghai past and present

Well, it's Day One of my 'blog tour' (see below) - at least in the US - which makes it all a little confusing, but keeps me on my toes! Anyway, I have turned up for work, so I guess that's the main thing, isn't it? 
It's a strange thing writing these pieces not knowing if anyone will ever read them, or worse still, reading them and rolling their eyes, but I suppose it's not all that different to writing a novel in a way, in the sense that you never get to see who is reading your work - and you can only hope they don't hate it. Or, if they hate it they do so quietly. :-)
Anyway, as promised, I am posting some more photos. For those of you who have read Chenxi and the Foreigner, you will know that it is set in Shanghai in the late 1980's. Shanghai has changed enormously since those days, in fact, it is unrecognisable from the Shanghai of my student days. When I first moved to Shanghai to stay with my father, in 1989, he lived in the tallest building in the whole city. I think it was only fifteen or twenty stories high. Now, it boasts some of the tallest buildings in the world and to me has become a city that looks a lot like that 1920's futuristic film Metropolis
Gone are the shabby street vendors, babies with split pants and wind-chapped bottoms, and gnarly-faced old grandmothers scaling fish into the gutters. All this has been replaced by a sleek modern city of shining towers and glossy window displays of extraordinarily expensive handbags. 
The last time I was in China, I was complaining about this to a Chinese journalist I met on a train; Oh, how I missed the old Shanghai! He scoffed and said, 'It's all very well for you to think that those tiny coal-filled apartments look romantic on postcards. We much prefer living in clean new apartments, thank you very much!'
So, as a tribute to my student days, here are some 'before and after' shots of The Bund, in downtown Shanghai. The bottom one was taken in 1990, the top one in 2008. (Thanks for the photos, Dad!)