What We Were Promised

What We Were Promised

eBook - 2018
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Set in modern Shanghai, a debut by a Chinese-American writer about a prodigal son whose unexpected return forces his newly wealthy family to confront painful secrets and unfulfilled promises. After years of chasing the American dream, the Zhen family has moved back to China. Settling into a luxurious serviced apartment in Shanghai, Wei, Lina, and their daughter, Karen, join an elite community of Chinese-born, Western-educated professionals who have returned to a radically transformed city. One morning, in the eighth tower of Lanson Suites, Lina discovers that a treasured ivory bracelet has gone missing. This incident sets off a wave of unease that ripples throughout the Zhen household. Wei, a marketing strategist, bows under the guilt of not having engaged in nobler work. Meanwhile, Lina, lonely in her new life of leisure, assumes the modern moniker taitai-a housewife who does no housework at all. She is haunted by the circumstances surrounding her arranged marriage to Wei and her lingering feelings for his brother, Qiang. Sunny, the family's housekeeper, is a keen but silent observer of these tensions. An unmarried woman trying to carve a place for herself in society, she understands the power of well-kept secrets. When Qiang reappears in Shanghai after decades on the run with a local gang, the family must finally come to terms with the past and its indelible mark on their futures. From a silk-producing village in rural China, up the corporate ladder in suburban America, and back again to the post-Maoist nouveaux riches of modern Shanghai, What We Were Promised explores the question of what we owe to our country, our families, and ourselves.
Publisher: 2018
ISBN: 9780316441896
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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KSpaulding
Jul 26, 2018

Tan illustrates the steep learning curve required of a China that was born just after Mao’s famous Cultural Revolution. Wei and Lina Zhen grew up in the countryside, the children of farms and fields. After emigrating to America for Western education and opportunities, they return to Shanghai almost as foreigners in their own country. The captivating book explores the contrast between the traditional and the modern, the collective loyalty versus capital gain, and the individual experience versus the communal one.

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etrotter12
Jul 23, 2018

A compelling read.

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