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First championed by the state media as a rising star of her generation, Wei Hui is now dubbed ‘decadent, debauched and a slave of foreign culture’. Shanghai Baby was banned by the authorities in April 2000 and 40,000 copies were publicly burned, serving only to fan the flames of the author’s cult status. Based on the author’s own experience, Shanghai Baby is the story of Coco, a 25-year-old waitress who falls in love with a charismatic but opium-addicted young man, but then also embarks on a highly-charged affair with a married westerner. The book deals honestly with areas which are conventionally taboo, most especially in its feminist portrayal of the new woman in contemporary China. This audacious literary novel arrives at a time when China’s contemporary fringe of urban youth challenges her historic and traditional mores and very sense of self. The gap between old and new is typified by the wealthier, better-educated and mature one-child-family generation that is now impatient for recognition, empowerment and self-expression. Here is a beautifully written novel that champions female sexuality, dares to transgress convention and describes China on the brink of her own social and sexual revolution. Wei Hui calls Shanghai Baby ‘semi-autobiographical’, an account of her spiritual and sexual awakening. “I grew up in a very strict family. My first year of college was spent in military training. What happened after that was natural. I rebelled. I went wild. That’s what I wrote about.” During spiritual father” and it was his writing that changed her way of looking at her own work. She sees herself as a new voice creating a new definition of what it means to be a Chinese woman.