Exactly five years ago, when my memoir, Goodbye Shanghai was launched at the art deco Astor Theatre in Melbourne to mark my 75th birthday, I experienced a sense of relief. The years of research and writing were over and a beautifully produced book was testament to a story that I had been continuously urged to tell since my first days in Australia.
The presentation of the book to each of our grandchildren and to our many friends at the launch party appeared to possess all the hallmarks of closure. Far from it! Instead, the launch of Goodbye Shanghai spawned a most unexpected aftermath of events.
Shortly after the launch, I received a surprising offer to have the book translated into Mandarin, which, in turn, led to its eventual publication in Shanghai. Since its release in 2013, this foreign language edition has been well received by the intended Chinese readership.
An unanticipated but very welcome event also occurred when Brother Tony Paterson, a senior Marist Brother in Melbourne, purchased a copy of the book and found, to his great surprise, a whole chapter devoted to my schooling by this same Catholic teaching order in Shanghai. I had the pleasure of sharing my school memorabilia with Brother Tony and his subsequent warm review of the book in the order’s journal, Lavalla cemented a connection I will continue to cherish.
Another Goodbye Shanghai highlight was the literary event organised by the Shanghai Historical Society in 2011. I was invited to speak about my experiences of growing up in a bygone Shanghai to an audience of current residents at the Glamour Bar, situated on the famous Shanghai Bund. I was so pleased that the event coincided with our extended family tour of China and that all 16 members of my family could attend.
Most surprising of all was the chance reconnection with the large North American family of my natural mother, Bronia, with whom I had lost all contact at the age of 7. Liza Zaslavsky, the daughter of Bronia’s brother, was recommended Goodbye Shanghai by a friend and she purchased a copy to learn more about the life of the Russian Jewish Community of Shanghai where she was also born. To her amazement, she realised that we were first cousins. I had the pleasure of meeting Liza and learning more about my maternal family when she visited from Canada in 2013.
At the urging of my family, I narrated the audio version of my memoir and the book is also now available as an Ebook. I am confident that with the launch of this website and my increased ability to connect with all those interested in the Jewish history of Shanghai, Goodbye Shanghai will continue to carry me on an extraordinary journey.