30 March, 2011 : Other suggested reading

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return to the middle kingdom

Writing about Peck’s book, I wanted to write about another book I read last year, it is called, Shanghai, by Harriet Sargeant. She details Shanghai quite well, although I understood that it had many foreign concessions, it is still hard to imagine from my perspective what it is really like. Her book detailed the life of white Russians, the British, the Chinese and also the Japanese.

On the topic of white Russians, she also wrote about the life of the well-known cartoonist, Sapajou. Which gave me some perspective of the life of the non-Chinese cartoonists. A few weeks after I read this book, I met a Dr. Boris Gorelik, who mainly studies another Russian cartoonist called Tretchikoff, at least after having read Sargeant’s book, I was able to ask some intelligent questions. As a side note, Tretchikoff moved to Singapore in 1934 and then later to South Africa and one of his Malaya cartoons had a similar layout to several Chinese cartoonists layouts. 

Another series of books I enjoyed reading, though this was more than 12 years ago was the autobiographical books written by Han Suyin. I recently picked up one of the books again and felt that I had a deeper understanding now of some of the historical characters in the book.

One other book that I thought I would mention while I am talking about books was written by Chen Yuan-Tsung, “The Return to the Middle Kingdom”, she is the wife of Jack Chen, who was also a cartoonist in the same period as my grandfather. Chen wrote an article about the Chinese cartoonists back in 1938 and had written quite a bit about Huang Yao. The curator working on this acquisition sent me this book that detailed Chen’s life and (lucky me!) I was able to see the acquisition by the British Museum (in 2010) of an exhibition organized by Chen in Amsterdam (1940s) to raise money for the war but his material was left in attic for many years.  

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