The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai, Paperback Book

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


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.


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I enjoyed this. An interesting and painful account of the effort to regain language after brain damage suffered by Li Jing when a building collapses on him. He loses completely his capacity to speak or re-learn Chinese, yet retains basic English, which he had learned as a child. An American neurologist, Rosalyn Neal, comes to help. A close bond develops between them, while Meiling, Li Jing's wife, feels totally excluded and jealous. It destroys the marriage, but Meiling cannot abandon him. The book ends on a very slightly hopeful note. She may try to learn English, even if she cannot forgive his betrayal, and so be able to be part of the relationship Li Jing and Pangpang, their child, (who learns English at school) still have.

Also by Ruiyan Xu