Winner of 29 awards including
the Writer’s Digest Grand Prize

Remembering shanghai

A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels

Isabel Sun Chao and Claire Chao

Watch the Book Trailer

“Beautiful and rich, with fascinating details—transports the reader to Shanghai and Hong Kong ...This volume is a treasure.”

Lisa See, author of Shanghai Girls and The Island of Sea Women


Reader Views

“Engaging and entertaining.”

South China Morning Post


Hong Kong Review of Books

“An unexpected gem.”

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of China

“Absolutely gorgeous.”

Asia Literary Review

True stories of glamour, drama, and tragedy told through five generations of a Shanghai family, from the last days of imperial rule to the Cultural Revolution.

A high position bestowed by China’s empress dowager grants power and wealth to the Sun family. For Isabel, growing up in glamorous 1930s and ’40s Shanghai, it is a life of utmost privilege. But while her scholar father and fashionable mother shelter her from civil war and Japanese occupation, they cannot shield the family forever.

Since launching as an indie book in the US in 2018, Remembering Shanghai has won 29 book awards, including the 2019 Rubery Book Award Book of the Year and the 2020 Writer’s Digest Grand Prize.  The memoir has been well received at book talks by Claire at the Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore literary festivals; the Asia Society; the Princeton University Art Museum; the Museum of Chinese in America; the San Francisco Public Library; the Organization of Chinese Women in America; and numerous clubs and cultural organizations across Asia and the US.

Publisher Girl Friday Books re-released the book in Fall 2021 to wider bookstore and academic distribution. The Remembering Shanghai audiobook, launched in 2020, features the voice of award-winning actor Rachel Yong, who created more than 60 distinct character voices.

Remembering Shanghai is available as a hardcover, paperback, audiobook and ebook. The print and ebooks include 160 full-color illustrations and vintage black-and-white photos.


With the voices of Rachel Yong, Claire Chao and Isabel Sun Chao

Listen to audiobook samples below

  • Preface: Just Eighteen 00:00

Preface: Just Eighteen

  • Chapter 4: Tael End 00:00

Chapter 4: Tael End

  • Chapter 18: Good Time Harley 00:00

Chapter 18: Good Time Harley