Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Winner, Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction
Winner, Christina Stead Fiction Prize, NSW Premier’s Award
Winner, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Book of the Year

Shanghai Dancing =
  • naval slang for syphilis
  • the attainment of disorientation and instability
  • the United States premiere of award-winning Australian writer Brian Castro
After forty years in Australia, middle-aged 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.

Combining photographs and written images, author Brian Castro's fictional autobiography asks if life’s meaning is to be found in the moment or the memory. The winner of some of Australia’s top literary prizes, Shanghai Dancing has been praised by its judges as “a work of major significance [that] challenges our expectations of storytelling ... It is impressive as history, as fiction, as a book which stretches the literary form and which speaks to the universality of the human experience.” Kaya Press is thrilled to bring the work of one of Australia’s most acclaimed literary talents to the United States for the first time.

“Brian Castro plays with past and present in this complex, teasing, polyrhythmic, carnivalesque dance through phantom Shanghai.” — J.M. Coetzee

“[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

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