Two Rachel DeWoskin Interviews on ‘Someday We Will Fly’ – Pub’d in China Daily

The paper version of China Daily recently published my interview with Rachel DeWoskin about her new book “Someday We Will Fly“.

Here’s an excerpt from that piece, titled Creating hope in a wartime city:

A photo of three teenage Jewish boys on a table tennis team, wearing matching T-shirts with their school logo, are among some images of children at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum that American author Rachel DeWoskin saw one summer, inspiring her new historical novel set in the 1940s in Shanghai’s Hongkou Jewish settlement.

“There was so much evidence of how devoted these kids’ community was to creating a sense of normalcy, giving the children a childhood, even though the context of an occupied city at war was excruciating,” says DeWoskin.

“Many of the refugees had no idea where their family members were or whether they were OK. Many had fled Nazi-occupied Europe and landed in Shanghai, destitute and disoriented. Yet they created schools for their kids, ran camps, music lessons and table tennis teams. And shirts. I found those small insignia so moving, and the combination the photos evoked-of danger and resilience to be worthy of literary exploration.”

DeWoskin imagines this world through her character Lillia, a 15-year-old aerial acrobat from a circus family in Poland who flees in 1939 with her father and 1-year-old sister to Shanghai, where they struggle to survive as she wonders if her mother is still alive.

“Lillia is suddenly on her own for the first time in her life, and in a certain sense responsible for her sister, which is intense and complicated, especially given that she’s in an unfamiliar city. But she finds her way, as kids so often do-with grit, grace and practical application of her skills, with warmth and by way of friendship. She figures out how to keep her hope alive even though she’s also full of dread.”

The title Someday We Will Fly, which echoes Lillia’s circus performances, emerged in response to what DeWoskin says is Lillia’s “desperate desire to have a view of her own life that offers some possible future escape from the constraints of war. She wants, as I think we all do, to transcend her circumstances”.

You can read the full piece here.

But that’s not all — China Daily website also published another interview on Rachel DeWoskin’s book: ‘Someday We Will Fly’: Novel spotlights Shanghai Jewish settlement. Here’s an excerpt:

The dedication at the beginning of American author Rachel DeWoskin’s new historical novel, Someday We Will Fly, includes the following: “And for Shanghai, a haven for so many refugees in the 1930s and ’40s”.

She honors the city – and in particular, its Hongkou Jewish settlement that offered wartime refuge to some 20,000 Jews – through her fictional story of a 15-year-old girl named Lillia, an aerial acrobat who flees to Shanghai from Poland with her circus family in 1939.

DeWoskin recently appeared in China to promote her novel. She was in Beijing at The Bookworm on June 6, as well as in Shanghai at M on the Bund on June 8 and through an Historic Shanghai tour on June 9. But to write Someday We Will Fly, she spent seven summers in Shanghai, immersed in the Hongkou Jewish neighborhood, whose landmarks helped give rise to and shape the narrative.

Read the full piece here online.

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‘Foreign Babes’ in China: 3 Rachel DeWoskin Books with Cross-Cultural Love

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.

After “Foreign Babes in Beijing“, DeWoskin came out with her debut novel in 2009 titled “Repeat After Me“.

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.

Have you ever read any of Rachel DeWoskin’s books, such as “Foreign Babes in Beijing“, “Repeat After Me” or “Someday We Will Fly“?