After forty years in Australia, Shanghai Dancing‘s middle-aged protagonist Arnaldo Castro packs a bag and walks out of his old life forever. The victim of a restlessness and rootlessness he calls “Shanghai Dancing,” Arnaldo seeks to understand the source of his condition in his family’s wanderings. Reversing his parents’ migration to Australia, Arnaldo heads back to their native Shanghai, where his world begins to fragment. Glittering prewar China, evangelical Liverpool, and 17th century Portugal fight for space with contemporary scenes of Asia and Europe. The stories of long-dead ancestors compete for primacy with those of new family, friends, and lovers.
Join us as author Brian Castro reads from his fictional autobiography. The talk will be followed by a discussion and Q&A moderated by Sukhdev Sandhu, Associate Professor at the A/P/A Studies Program at the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and the NYU Department of English.
BRIAN CASTRO was born in Hong Kong in 1950 of Portuguese, Chinese and English parents, and arrived in Australia in 1961. His novels include Birds of Passage (1983), which shared the Australian/Vogel Literary Award; Double-Wolf (1991), winner of the Age Fiction Prize and the Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction; After China (1992), which also won the Victorian Premier’s Award; and Stepper (1997), for which he received the National Book Council Banjo Award. His books have been translated into German and French. He currently resides in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne.
– Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction
– Christina Stead Fiction Prize
– New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards Book of the Year
“Brian Castro plays with past and present in this complex, teasing, polyrhythmic, carnivalesque dance through phantom Shanghai.” – J.M. Coetzee
“Brian Castro’s Shanghai Dancing is everything I could ask out of a novel, and more. It’s surprising, innovative and bold – and best of all, it demonstrates, in such a unique way, what happens when history – both personal and national (in this case many nations) – collides with the imagination. Castro deserves a wide American audience.” – Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
“[A] marvellous mingling of fiction, memoir and travel writing…one of the best Australian books – or books from anywhere if it comes to that – I’ve read for a long time” – Sydney Morning Herald
“[A]n extraordinary polyglot mix of sources: Portuguese, Chinese, English, Jewish and Catholic, and a mysterious recessive black gene…told in Castro’s characteristically baroque prose, dense with its passion for language and serious wordplay.” – The Age