China Seminar | 14 November 2019

Remembering Shanghai – A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels

Claire Chao Claire Chao

Claire Chao presents Remembering Shanghai, a memoir that she co-wrote with her mother Isabel Sun Chao. To date the book has won 17 literary awards, including the prestigious Rubery Prize Book of the Year. The story follows five generations from imperial China to modern-day Hong Kong, and is accompanied by evocative period illustrations and photographs. Isabel grows up in the wealthy Sun family in glamorous 1930s Shanghai.

When Mao comes to power, she journeys to Hong Kong, unaware that she will never see her father again. She and daughter Claire return to Shanghai six decades later to confront their complex past – one they discover is filled with love and betrayal, kidnappers and concubines, glittering pleasure palaces and underworld crime bosses. By turns harrowing and heartwarming, the memoir explores identity, loss and redemption against an epic backdrop of a country in turmoil.

Claire was born and raised in Hong Kong. As a youth she continually, yet unknowingly sought connections to her parents’ Shanghai homeland. She spent a decade creating Remembering Shanghai after thirty years in luxury brand management. While researching her family stories, she uncovered an uncanny link with the grandfather she’d never met. She graduated with highest honors from Princeton University and was named to Avenue magazine’s “500 Most Influential Asian Americans” and Hong Kong Tatler’s “Who’s Who in Hong Kong”.