What We Were Promised
Little, Brown and Company
On Sale: July 10, 2018
Hardcover / e-Book
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Historical | Multicultural Asian
Set in modern Shanghai, a debut by a Chinese-American
writer about a prodigal son whose unexpected return forces
his newly wealthy family to confront painful secrets and
After years of chasing the American dream, the Zhen family
has moved back to China. Settling into a luxurious serviced
apartment in Shanghai, Wei, Lina, and their daughter, Karen,
join an elite community of Chinese-born, Western-educated
professionals who have returned to a radically transformed city.
One morning, in the eighth tower of Lanson Suites, Lina
discovers that a treasured ivory bracelet has gone missing.
This incident sets off a wave of unease that ripples
throughout the Zhen household. Wei, a marketing strategist,
bows under the guilt of not having engaged in nobler work.
Meanwhile, Lina, lonely in her new life of leisure, assumes
the modern moniker taitai-a housewife who does no
housework at all. She is haunted by the circumstances
surrounding her arranged marriage to Wei and her lingering
feelings for his brother, Qiang. Sunny, the family's
housekeeper, is a keen but silent observer of these
tensions. An unmarried woman trying to carve a place for
herself in society, she understands the power of well-kept
secrets. When Qiang reappears in Shanghai after decades on
the run with a local gang, the family must finally come to
terms with the past and its indelible mark on their futures.
From a silk-producing village in rural China, up the
corporate ladder in suburban America, and back again to the
post-Maoist nouveaux riches of modern Shanghai, What We
Were Promised explores the question of what we owe to
our country, our families, and ourselves.
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