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Cutted Chicken in Shanghai Paperback – January 10, 2014
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While playful and witty, this narrator allows us to be rooted in the rich soil of Chinese history and culture. Sharon Winters's Cutted Chicken in Shanghai is a delightful and dryly humorous marriage of memoir and travelogue with cultural and linguistic study . . . Her relationship with her company-assigned driver, Jin, is the unifying element to all her adventures, and her documentation of her budding friendships with Jin and other natives is warmly humorous. The story line holds interest particularly because of the quick pace of the author's titled and well-crafted journal entries, which often read like flash essays.
A simple and unapologetic writing style adds to the comedic effect of describing the unusual situations Winters encounters . . . Her writing also imitates the more formal, less wordy Mandarin (she translates conversations into English for the reader), which will help readers enter more fully into the habits of Chinese-language conversations, such as referring to oneself in the third person and practicing the art of receiving hospitality under the guise of refusal. Winters's matter-of-fact tone is engaging and self-aware, even while she reports the difficulty of her new situation . . .
Her dry observations about things expats might find odd are more the stuff of curiosity rather than judgment, making her a more likable narrator: "I no longer say how much I have paid for something because Chinese people always say, 'Whaaaaaa! You pay too much.'" Without being its main aim, Cutted Chicken in Shanghai may also prove to be a helpful aid to Americans who are preparing for a trip to Shanghai. Winters offers insight on gift giving, honorific titles, family relationships, sales negotiations, and marriage—at times allowing readers in on China's past wounds, such as the suffering under Mao Zedong, as well as descriptions of the Nanjing Massacre. Current and future expats in China, readers interested in cross-cultural experiences, and those who love a good memoir will likely enjoy Winters's descriptions of life in Shanghai.
- ForeWord Clarion Reviews
About the Author
SHARON WINTERS has retired from teaching English and math, but continues to study Mandarin and visit China. She has a BS in psychology from Illinois State University and an MA in humanities from the University of Texas. Her stories have appeared in the MENSA BULLETIN: The Magazine of American MENSA, as well as The New Mensican, and The Rodent Reader Quarterly.
Sharon Winters effortlessly captures the linguistic and cultural differences between China and America in an affectionate and amusing way. I smiled all the way through. Robert Wasserman, Author: My Life on Golden Pond
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Sharon truly captures the spirit of daily living in a Communist country and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. We were world travelers ourselves, but this was a fascinating and baffling culture for us to negotiate. Sharon brilliantly opens door for you to peek behind the curtain to share our grand adventure.
Her tales of daily life reminded me of many forays into shopping in the Antique Market and all the market streets in which all the vendors sold the same thing; fabric street, fish and reptile market, hardware street, flower market, etc. Once the local shoppers came to recognize you as a regular at the neighborhood produce shop, they would berate the vendor if he did not give you a good price. Then there were the trips to Suzhou to the pearl market where we honed our bartering skills to a fine point. Sharon's stories are captivating and will give you a fantastic insight into the thrill of living in this special place.
If you have neither the resources nor interest in living in China for two years, Sharon Winter’s “Cutted Chicken in Shanghai”, is the next best thing. Both humorous and insightful, you will enjoy Winter’s adventures learning the difficult Chinese language, binge shopping and the death defying feat of trying to cross the crowded, chaotic streets of this megapolis. As I read, I kept finding myself jotting down “LOL” in the margins. I’m talking belly laughs. Think “Seinfeld’ with chopsticks. The characters come to life with Winter’s obvious fondness for her new friends as she contends with the customs and foibles of this unique experience and the resulting culture shock that ensues. You will really enjoy this book. I did.
Detailing a two year stay in Shanghai, Sharon intersperses daily experiences with fascinating insights into the history and culture of the region, its people, and her own Buddhist faith. In the process, she makes plain the reasons Mandarin is considered one of the most difficult languages for Americans to learn, while proving humor and humanity are universal bridge builders. Whether standing by her side as she bargains for paintings and pearls or seated with her at restaurants serving dishes sure to shock any Western diner, we delight in Sharon's victories and sigh with her in relief as she steers away from pitfalls. Most of all, we echo her wonder and joy as she unfolds to us a foreign city that indeed comes to feel very much like home.
I have to say I enjoyed this book so much that I approached the last few pages with trepidation, bracing myself for the inevitable sweet sorrow of being parted with a place and people I'd so enjoyed getting to know. But this, too, Sharon handled with her now accustomed spirit of friendship and comfort, allowing me to turn the final page and quietly utter the word zaijian, "I will see you again." Whether in a second volume I very much hope Sharon is considering, or through re-reading this one, that's a promise I'm sure to keep, and an acquaintance I already look forward to renewing.