Bernardine's Shanghai Salon: The Story of the Doyenne of Old China

Product Details
$18.99  $17.66
Post Hill Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 0.8 inches | 0.8 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate
About the Author
Susan Blumberg-Kason is the author of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong and coeditor of Hong Kong Noir. She is a regular contributor to the Asian Review of Books and her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, World Literature Today, PopMatters, and the South China Morning Post. She is a graduate of Goucher College, where she earned a BA in political science. She spent her junior year abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and returned to the same university a few years later to study for an MPhil in government and public administration. She became interested in 1930s Shanghai when she was in the city in the mid-1990s for her thesis research. Susan now lives with her family in the Chicago suburbs.
"Susan Blumberg-Kason has written a sparkling, revelatory biography of one of the twentieth-century's most influential women. This rich, deeply researched book brings to life the storied world of Bernardine Szold Fritz, celebrating her fierce independence and sharp wit as well as the movers and shakers she famously pulled into her orbit."--Katie Gee Salisbury, author of Not Your China Doll: The Wild and Shimmering Life of Anna May Wong
"The incredible story of Bernadine Szold Fritz, who journeyed to Shanghai on a romantic whim and went on to swiftly conquer the world's most cosmopolitan city. Everyone who was anyone visiting Shanghai stopped in at Bernadine's, from Hollywood stars to European intellectuals and Mexican artists. Few other individuals did so much to forge Shanghai's unique east-west cultural mélange of the interwar years."--Paul French, author of New York Times bestselling Midnight in Peking and City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir
"Bernardine's Shanghai Salon offers an intriguing window into legendary 1930s Shanghai at its most glamorous and swashbuckling. The narrative revolves around a salon in the style of Gertrude Stein's and Alice Toklas's, which Bernadine had attended in Paris. Western celebrities including the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Claudette Colbert make appearances and mingle with iconic Shanghai characters such as Lin Yutang, Sir Victor Sassoon, Emily Hahn, Sinmay Zau, and Daisy Kwok. The author strikes the right note between historical substance and sometimes scandalous stories--just as the finest salon should!--bringing to life a who's who of globe-trotting literati during an unforgettable time."--Claire Chao, author of Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels
"This dazzling portrait of a woman in her prime and a cosmopolitan city at the very peak of its Golden Age deftly draws us into the heady whirl of 1930s Shanghai and the woman who connected it all. Bernardine Szold Fritz was a remarkable woman both ahead of her time and very much of it, and her Shanghai salon brought together some of the 20th century's major literary and cultural figures--yet until now, she has always been a minor character in histories of the period. With this book, Bernardine steps from behind the scenes, and takes her rightful place in the spotlight."--Tina Kanagaratnam, Historic Shanghai
"Susan Blumberg-Kason's picaresque narrative of 1930s Shanghai expatriate Bernardine Szold recalls a lost world of fascinating characters and histories. Populating Szold's Shanghai salon were an extraordinary mélange of Chinese and western intellectuals, journalists, artists, actors, dramatists, diplomats, restaurateurs, capitalists and idealists. Superb cameos of Charlie Chaplin, Anna May Wong, the Soong Sisters and many others will delight readers. This book is a must read for anyone interested in 1930s global literary and artistic society."--Yunxiang Gao, author of Arise, Africa! Roar, China!: Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century
"Bernardine's Shanghai Salon is a heady, inspiring plunge into the creative hotbed that was 1930s Shanghai. With a tour guide's eye for captivating locations and a scholar's sensitivity to history and individual voice, Susan Blumberg-Kason honors the charismatic former journalist and Midwestern Jew who became a cultural doyenne in the "Pearl of the Orient."--Karen Fang, author of Background Artist: The Life and Work of Tyrus Wong
"Susan Blumberg-Kason's biography shines an important light upon Bernardine Szold Fritz, a mostly forgotten Jewish American writer who spent a lifetime bringing together the Chinese and Western arts communities. Drawing from a vast archive of letters, unpublished manuscripts, and news reports, Blumberg-Kason reveals the life of a woman who facilitated international friendships, organized galas, ballets, theatre productions, art exhibits, and poetry readings, all while navigating personal crises, medical dramas, and a not-quite-right fourth marriage. Kason delivers an intriguing tale of Old Shanghai, 1930s Chinese luminaries, cultural intrigue, and the power of friendship."--Elizabeth Rynecki, author of Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter's Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy
"Bernardine's Shanghai Salon is a fascinating, deeply researched biography of the woman who made 1930s Shanghai a hub of modern culture. This book transports readers to a vibrant city where Bernardine befriends expatriates and local artists alike. Every notable figure who traveled through Shanghai seems to have visited her, from modernist painters to movie stars. After holding cultural events in her home, Bernardine established a theater company and produced large-scale performances of ballet and Peking Opera. Behind her boundless curiosity and enthusiasm, though, Bernardine had complex relationships with her family. Blumberg-Kason handles Bernardine's difficult personal life with care in this vivid portrait."--Sunny Stalter-Pace, author of Imitation Artist: Gertrude Hoffmann's Life in Vaudeville and Dance
"By any measure, Jewish American writer-cum-Shanghai-based salonnière Bernadine Szold Fritz (1896-1982) led an extraordinary life. Whether on familiar terms with American writers of the Lost Generation (Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway) and French modernist masters (Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso) in and around Paris, or influential Chinese writers and intellectuals during 1930s Shanghai (Lin Yutang, Hu Shi), or even A-list celebrities from Hollywood's Golden Age (Gary Cooper, FrankCapra), Fritz was remarkably well-connected.

Yet Bernadine Szold Fritz's importance for twentieth-century cultural history--a history that spanned three continents and almost as many World Wars--has been a story untold for far too long, which is why Susan Bloomberg-Kason's admirably researched and attentive biography Bernardine's Shanghai Salon: The Story of the Doyenne of Old China is by turns enlightening, enjoyable, and indeed necessary.

Just like skilled portrait painters, though, an attentive biographer does well not to dwell entirely on surface details, which can be retouched in order to flatter or obscure. For all of Fritz's many accomplishments, there were low points--the abandonment of her biological father, the failed marriages, a cancer scare, the suicide of her daughter. Bloomberg-Kason navigates the intricacies of Bernadine Szold Fritz's biography with great sensitivity, sidestepping gendered tropes and reductionist explanations in favor of presenting a compelling portrait of complicated individual and collected lives in an endlessly fascinating period of Shanghai's history."--Brian Haman, Asian Review of Books