Saturday, 26 January 2013

Xu, Ruiyan "The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai"

Xu, Ruiyan "The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai" - 2010

Quite a different book about China, it's actually a story that could take place anywhere in the world. After an accident, a man loses part of his brain and can only speak the language he grew up with but does not reign that of his wife and child. A problem that is rare but can happen. A doctor is called from another country to help him find his way back into his ordinary life.

An interesting tale where we can see how much we take for granted in our everyday life. It is also a great account of how we have to find our way in an unknown world, both the patient as well as the doctor have to face several problems that come along with the inability to speak the language around you.

I also liked a quote on page 213:
"Clarissa sighs at the table, looking up at Rosalyn. 'Everyone always has to go. Everyone always leaves this place. People pass through here, and you get attached to them, but then they just leave you behind. You'd think we'd be used to it by now.'"

As an expatriate myself, I understand exactly what she is talking about.

From the back cover:

"When an explosion reverberates through the Swan Hotel in Shanghai, it is not just shards of glass and rubble that come crashing down. Li Jing and Zhou Meiling find their once-happy marriage rocked to its foundations. For Li Jing, his head pierced by a shard of falling glass, awakens from brain surgery only able to utter the faltering phrases of the English he learnt as a child - a language that Meiling and their young song Pang Pang cannot speak. 

When an American neurologist arrives, tasked with teaching Li Jing to speak fluently again, she is as disorientated as her patient in this bewitching, bewildering city. As doctor and patient grow closer, feelings neither of them anticipated begin to take hold. Feelings that Meiling, who must fight to keep both her husband's business and her family afloat, does not need a translator to understand.


  1. Hi:

    Can't find a spot to comment on your Book Club Post so I am replying here.

    AWESOME List...I am going to copy that list for my book club.


  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    Yes, I know, that's a bit of a nuisance, because it's the post directly under that section. You could post under one of the other lists like the one in chronological order or all the books ever suggested. But here is fine, too. Anywhere you want. I love hearing from other readers.

    I'm glad you like the list. We have a wonderful book club, as you can see. And this is not the first time the list has been copied. A lot of our members take it with them when they move back home.

    Have a good day,

  3. Marianne, this does sound interesting. Thanks for linking up with Books You Loved.

    PS I put the title of the book in for you

  4. Thank you, Carole. I don't know what happened but it's great that you solved it. I love your blog anyway and it's so great to see other people's blogs. I found a few that are quite interesting.

    As to this book, it really is an interesting read. If you're interested in languages, how the brain works or or different cultures, the book has something to offer on all of those three topics.