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Travel to Daughter of Calamity’s Shanghai

  • Submitted: 10th July 2024

Daughter of Calamity –  a trail around Shanghai

A nod to 1930s Shanghai in Daughter of Calamity by Rosalie M. Lin

Are you ready to join us?

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

Daughter of Calamity Rosalie M. Lin

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

Shanghai in the 1930s was a dazzling wonderland to the outside eye –  cabarets, gambling dens, factories, a utopia of business opportunities waiting to be seized. No wonder the city drew businessmen, artists, crooks, and royalty from around the world. I chose Shanghai to be the setting of my debut novel Daughter of Calamity in part because of that excitement. However, at the same time, that glittering landscape of opportunity was only possible because Shanghai was a subjugate territory, partitioned by eleven different nations after the First Opium War and forced to serve as a port for Japan and the western powers. Shanghai was perfect because Daughter of Calamity explores the darkness beneath the glamor.

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

Shanghai

Shanghai

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

Of course, Shanghai has grown and changed monumentally from the 1930s to the 2020s. Some of the alluring yet treacherous establishments and landmarks in Daughter of Calamity have been demolished or closed their doors forever. However, a surprising number of them still stand today!

The Paramount:

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

The Paramount Ballroom is perhaps the most important place in Daughter of Calamity. This is the cabaret Jingwen and her friends dance at. Completed in 1933, The Paramount (whose Chinese name 百樂門 means “Door to a Hundred Pleasures”) has dazzled patrons and passerby for nearly a century.

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

Built in the third century CE, the Jing’an Temple makes a stark contrast against the skyscrapers that surround it.  It has gold roofs and bustling night market full of street food and trinkets. On a fateful night main character Jingwen tires of the politics and drama in the neighboring Paramount Ballroom and goes here. She approaches the sleeping temple with its quiet effigies of various gods and Buddhas, wondering what these ancient deities would think of the Jazz Age if they were awake.

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

The street next to Barules

Barules is a cocktail bar and speakeasy that opened in 2014, closed in 2020, and is expected to open again in 2024. It was definitely not around in the 1930s, however the gilded walls, secretive bartenders, and hush-hush atmosphere perfectly encompasses what Jingwen’s favorite bars in Daughter of Calamity might have felt like. Speakeasies were Prohibition era phenomenon in the United States. In the book, an American businessman is inspired by the speakeasies back home. He opens a speakeasy in Shanghai’s Blood Alley with his own rules… definitely enter at your own risk.

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

Street food is the most important side character in Daughter of Calamity! In between dangerous endeavors to overpower gangs and kill gods, the characters are perpetually on a side mission to find the best street food in Shanghai. Jia Jia Tang Bao is a famous hole in the wall soup dumpling joint in Shanghai. The line to get in is sometimes 2-3 hours long.

Map of locations in Daughter of Calamity

The Temple of the City God is a folk temple nestled in Shanghai’s old city (before places like the French Concession and International Settlement developed in Jingwen’s Shanghai). Complete with its own pond, garden, and market that sells everything from cherry blossom wine to sterling silver, the area has an air of mischief. In Daughter of Calamity, a certain danger brews beneath the Temple of the City God… it is the site of both a battle and a romantic encounter in the book.

 

Wow, quite the tour! Thanks Rosalie

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Daughter of Calamity

Twitter:  @linrosily

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