Rachel DeWoskin recently returned to China to launch her new book “Someday We Will Fly“, with events in Beijing and Shanghai. I had the pleasure to see her at the Beijing Bookworm to learn about this fascinating new historical novel, which follows a teenage Jewish girl in the circus in Poland who flees to Shanghai with her family, where they struggle to survive amid a city under Japanese occupation during World War II.
If you’ve read a number of DeWoskin’s books, you know she loves to explore certain themes and topics.
First off, many of her books are set in China. She spent many of her formative years in the country and still considers it a second home, returning almost every summer.
Also, most of her books focus on the experiences of outsiders and how they seek to connect with others across potential points of division. That includes cultural differences — and even cross-cultural love among foreign women and Chinese men.
You’ll find that in “Someday We Will Fly“, the 15-year-old protagonist Lillia develops a crush on a Chinese boy in her neighborhood.
But it’s not the only example. The classic of course — the one that often comes to mind when many of us think of Rachel DeWoskin — is her memoir “Foreign Babes in Beijing“.
It chronicles her years as a twenty-something in Beijing, a time when she starred as the foreign seductress Jiexi in a TV soap opera while she navigated life and love in the 1990s in Beijing, including having a relationship with a Chinese guy.
For those of you who have read “Foreign Babes in Beijing“, Rachel DeWoskin’s imprint is unmistakable in the main character of Aysha. Like DeWoskin, Aysha is Jewish, from New York City, loves Tang Poetry, teaches, attended Columbia, and ends up falling for a Chinese man. And, like “Foreign Babes in Beijing“, the China parts of the story take place in Beijing, DeWoskin’s old stomping grounds. Plus, “Repeat After Me” also delves deeply into the cultural divide and misunderstandings that inevitably occur when people from two distant cultures become involved.
If you’re looking for some great reads set in China that explore cultural differences with a helping of cross-cultural love in the mix, then consider reading “Foreign Babes in Beijing“, “Repeat After Me” or “Someday We Will Fly“, all by Rachel DeWoskin.