About

“These experiences are not mine alone, but of many. I was blessed to have a daughter who helped tell our family’s story. Even if the specific details may differ, I hope this gives a voice to all those in my generation who suffered, survived and re-invented themselves.”
—Isabel Sun Chao

“This is not your garden-variety memoir. My ancestors were a cast of eccentrics who lived in tumultuous times, and thankfully my mother did not resist writing an insider tell-all. There’s a bank heist, a kidnapping, a feud with Shanghai’s top gangster, a trek across China and a date on a Harley-Davidson. In between the adventures, we learn about mahjong, calligraphy, silkworms, Beijing opera and Shanghai dumplings. We sincerely hope you enjoy reading Remembering Shanghai as much as we enjoyed creating it!”
—Claire Chao

Isabel Sun Chao 趙孫樹瑩

“I was born in what they now call ‘Old Shanghai’ but, to me, it was just my beloved home. I am now one of the last to have lived this legendary lifestyle, as my childhood coincided with the last eighteen years before Mao came to power. In 1950, I left on what my father told me—and I believed—was a short spring holiday to Hong Kong. I never saw him again. I’ve lived in Hong Kong ever since, raising a family and working for more than thirty years as a cultural affairs specialist at the US Consulate General. It’s so gratifying to indulge and share my memories of those remarkable times, thanks to my daughter Claire’s hard work.”

Entering her tenth decade, Isabel is happily retired in Hong Kong and can be found most days exercising her skills at the mahjong table.

Claire Chao 趙芝潔

“Growing up in 1960s to ’70s Hong Kong, I was educated in British- and American-run schools, and identified as Shanghainese in a mainly Cantonese and expatriate environment. Though only two hours away by air, Shanghai was inaccessible during my childhood years. Although unaware of it at the time, as a youth I continually sought connections to my parents’ Shanghai homeland. That is probably why, after thirty years in luxury brand management, I immersed myself for a decade in researching and writing our family stories, uncovering amazing tales—including an uncanny connection with the grandfather I’d never met.”

Claire graduated with highest honors from Princeton University and was named to Avenue magazine’s “500 Most Influential Asian Americans” and Hong Kong Tatler’s “Who’s Who in Hong Kong.”

The 160 sumptuous images in Remembering Shanghai include rarely-published historical illustrations from private collections, original watercolors by two artists and the authors’ own family photographs.