Georgette I. (Oxford, GA)
The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai
"The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai" authored by Ruiyan Xu is one of the most beautiful and absorbing novels I have read. She presents us with multidimensional characters who deal with issues of communication that are both obvious and nuanced. The main story line involves Li Jing, a successful businessman who after an explosion suffers from a form of aphasia that affects the portion of the brain that manages language. Although fluent in both English and Chinese he recalls only English as he begins to recover leaving him unable to communicate with his wife, child, friends and associates.
Dr. Rosalyn Neal, an American specialist is recruited by his wife and doctors to help him relearn Chinese. As the characters and story evolve the reader is gently led through the various forms of language both verbal and nonverbal that can strengthen or weaken relationships. Xu weaves and layers the struggles of Li Jing, his wife Meiling, their son Pang Pang, Dr. Neal and her expatriate friends, and Alan, the translator against the backdrop of language in its various forms. This book is enjoyable on many levels from the intricate relationships to the spectacular descriptions of Shanghai. It will charm readers while provoking thoughtful discussions on a myriad of topics. This novel grips the reader from page one and never lets go.
Aprile G. (Northampton, Massachusetts)
The Loss of Language
"The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai" is a lyrical, haunting, and engrossing book about how language and culture, and the understandings and misunderstandings that they engender, both tie people together and break them apart.
When the central character, Li Jing, has a brain injury that suddenly makes him unable to speak a word of Chinese (although he still understands it), his world, and that of his wife, father, and son, is thrown into turmoil. The parallel experiences of his American doctor, Rosalyn Neal, of isolation and connection are compelling, and ultimately heartbreaking. The book chronicles the characters' struggles, moments of connection, and missteps so seamlessly that you feel you are experiencing what the characters are experiencing. This is a book to be savored, and there is much to spark lively discussion.
Rachel D. (Leominster, MA)
The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shangha9
This is a novel of love and heartache. A book that I couldn't put down until I had finished it. The author shows such insight into the human emotions of the characters that it captures you from the very beginning.
Lani S. (Narberth, PA)
A great postulate gone south
The premise of the book held much promise and I eagerly awaited reading it. That said, I was disappointed. The most engaging parts were contemplating the questions of who are without language and whether a common language is important to the emotional connection with one another. However, the plot felt like a predictable soap opera,with characters I did not find believable. Indeed, the Dr.'s unprofessional behavior was so abhorrent and unlikely that it hindered my belief in the rest of the novel.