Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shanghai Tango

Title: Shanghai Tango
Author: Jin Xing
Publisher: Atlantic Books Limited

If someone had written a non-fiction novel with the plot line of Shanghai Tango, chances are the outlandish tale would never have been published. But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and that is definitely the case with this deeply personal memoir by Jin Xing.

A colonel in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and one of the country’s foremost male ballet dancers, Jin Xing became China’s first sex change operation patient and went on to become the Shanghai Ballet Company's prima ballerina.

As a child Jin Xing excelled at dance. Selected at just nine years of age to leave his family and begin his training, his talent and dedication are clearly evident. But Jin has always felt alien in his own body. Drawn to the beauty and strength of the male body, he knows he is different from other boys. With his fine features and delicate frame he also knows he could be a very pretty girl.

But it is not until Jin wins a dancing scholarship to America in his late teens that he discovers that gender reassignment surgery is actually possible. Returning home Jin not only faces a painful and radical transformation but the deeply conservative Communist China authorities.

This book is quite simply, amazing. Jin’s grace, poise and beauty as a ballerina shines through in her personality and writing. Told with searing honest even the hardest heart would fail to be moved by the yearning Jin feels to find his true self and the lengths she went to in order to find herself.


Heather said...

Oh this is the kind of book I love to devour!

Does it have many photos in it? Lol this seems a quite fickle question to ask of such an amazing book but I'm curious.

Kelly said...

Yes, there are photos Heather. Two sets in the book if I remember correctly. As a man, Jin Xing was very effeminate looking and I think has become a very beautiful woman who has gone through some amazingly tough times to be true to herself.