Nanjing 1937: A Love Story

Nanjing 1937: A Love Story

Nanjing 1937: A Love Story

Nanjing 1937: A Love Story


Set on the eve of the Rape of Nanjing-when Japanese troops invaded the historic capital city, massacred hundreds of thousands, and committed thousands of rapes- Nanjing 1937 is a tender and humorous story of an impossible love and a lively, detailed historical portrait of a culture on the verge of rupture.

The novel centers on the life of Ding Wenyu, a privileged, womanizing, narcissistic professor of languages, and traces the course of the affair that transforms him from outlandish rake to devoted lover. Throughout the story, Ding's often comically unabashed "romantic offensive" toward a much younger woman, Ren Yuyuan (with whom he brazenly falls in love on the day of her wedding to another man), echoes the acts of war unfolding around him as the Japanese close in, even as he himself remains largely oblivious to the coming onslaught.

Known for his stylistic innovation, Ye Zhaoyan creates tragic and endearing characters while vividly capturing the daily life of 1930s wartime China. "I find myself unable to truly understand that history that historians call history," Ye has observed. "All I see are shattered pieces and broken fragments, and a handful of melancholic stories destined to come to naught, all quietly playing out upon the grand stage of history." This historiography of despair achieved its most poignant expression in 1996 with the Chinese publication of Nanjing 1937: A Love Story, which immediately became a bestseller, hailed by critics as a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese literature.

Now translated into English for the first time, informed by meticulous historical research and tinged with the author's unique brand of humor, Nanjing 1937: A Love Story is a work of fiction unlike any ever seen. This epic story of a man and a woman who discover love in a time of fear and uncertainty announces the arrival of major voice on the international literary scene.


January 1, 1937 was a Friday. It was a clear, cool day; the northern cold front had just passed and the temperature had begun to warm up a bit. Although the Nationalist government had already declared the lunar calendar obsolete, the atmosphere among the people during the western New Year celebration fell short of the anticipated excitement. All over the country, conferences were being held for New Year’s Day. From the central government all the way down, auditoriums were packed with high-sounding stately meetings. It seemed as if anyone who didn’t attend a conference wasn’t really celebrating the new year. the year 1937 arrived amid a wave of strong anti-Japanese sentiment. the Xi’an Incident and its peaceful resolution not long before had raised Chiang Kai-shek’s

An episode that occurred in December 1936 when a former warlord, General Zhang Xueliang, kidnapped Chiang Kai-shek in an effort to force Chiang to take a more anti-Japanese stance and join with the ccp in a second united Chinese front against Japan.

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