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“These experiences are not mine alone, but of many. I was blessed to have a daughter who helped tell our family’s story. Even if the specific details may differ, I hope this gives a voice to all those in my generation who suffered, survived and re-invented themselves.”

                                                —Isabel Sun Chao

“This is not your garden-variety memoir. My ancestors were a cast of eccentrics who lived in tumultuous times, and thankfully my mother did not resist writing an insider tell-all. There’s a bank heist, a kidnapping, a feud with Shanghai’s top gangster, a trek across China and a date on a Harley-Davidson. In between the adventures, we learn about mahjong, calligraphy, silkworms, Beijing opera and Shanghai dumplings. We sincerely hope you enjoy reading Remembering Shanghai as much as we enjoyed creating it!”

—Claire Chao

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Isabel Sun Chao

ISABEL SUN CHAO’S childhood in Shanghai coincided with the last eighteen years before Mao came to power. She is one of the last generation to have experienced the legendary ‘old Shanghai’ firsthand. In 1950, she left on what she thought was a holiday to Hong Kong and never saw her father again. She has lived in Hong Kong ever since, working for more than thirty years as a cultural affairs specialist in the US Consulate General. Now in her eighties, she can be found most days exercising her skills at the mahjong table.   

Claire Chao

CLAIRE CHAO, Isabel’s daughter, was born and raised in Hong Kong. Although unaware of it at the time, as a youth she continually sought connections to her parents' Shanghai homeland. She spent a decade creating Remembering Shanghai after thirty years in luxury brand management. While researching her family stories, she uncovered an uncanny link with the grandfather she'd never met. She graduated with highest honors from Princeton University and was named to Avenue magazine’s “500 Most Influential Asian Americans" and Hong Kong Tatler’s "Who's Who in Hong Kong."

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