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Shanghai Chronicles: an Artist’s Journey


English sample available

A commercial illustrator in her forties leaves her family and routine for an adventure in Shanghai – three summer months in a glamorous artist residency, chock full of contemporary artists from around the world – in pursuit of her childhood dream to be a Real Artist.

In Shanghai, she grapples with two new realities, not one: that of the flamboyant, unimaginable Shanghai, and the extravagant, impenetrable world of contemporary art. Essentially, she is into two journeys. One – the usual story: mingling with the in-crowd, going places, and trying to make it in the free art world. And the other – an invisible shamanic journey to the underworld, where the actual people she meets are spirits that lead her through the desert one has to cross whenever one sheds one personality to grow a new one. She needs to do that because her dream of becoming a Real Artist gradually dies on her throughout the journey.

In the “visible” story she basically fails. Her whole Real Artist endeavor is a comic disaster. However, what she’s really doing, without realizing it, is the “invisible” journey in search of meaning – of art, of an artist’s place in the modern world, and of self.

A fascinating journey into a crazy world of contemporary art and through the looking glass of China. Once open, this book will not be laid down.

— Tatyana Tolstaya, a writer

Book details


Illustrated auto-fiction, 2022

480 pp 

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