Helen Zia’s New Book “Last Boat Out of Shanghai” Launches at the Chinese Cultural Center Jan. 24

Award-winning journalist Helen Zia is releasing her new book, Last Boat Out of Shanghai (Ballantine Hardcover), this month.

Join CAAM at the Chinese Cultural Center for Zia’s book launch party!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS (note: there are two types of tickets: Reader tickets at $60 and General Public tickets that are sliding scale starting at $5)

The release party features a talk with Helen Zia, followed by a Q&A, book signing, and opportunity to purchase your copy of Last Boat out of Shanghai. The first kickoff event for CCC’s theme of the year, Present Tense 2019: Task of Remembrance will bring together projects that reflect on the complexities, gravity, and responsibility of remembering.

4:30-5:30pm Pre-reception with author Helen Zia for Reader tickets
5:30pm Doors Open
5:45pm Program begins, followed by Q&A and book signing

Here’s some early praise for her book:

“In this enthralling, heartfelt narrative, journalist Zia tells the stories of four people during the 1949 mass exodus from Shanghai, with its enclaves of foreigners, bustling markets, thriving port, and opium dens, coexisting during the war with aerial bombings, martial law, and panicked upper- and middle-class residents seeking refuge wherever they could. Vivid and well-researched, Zia’s engrossing work brings this tumultuous period to life.

Publishers Weekly “Starred Review”

An absorbing history of a refugee crisis that mirrors current events . . . vividly chronicles the lives of several individuals . . . With captivating detail, the author reconstructs the tense ‘panic to flee’ that engulfed the nation.”

Kirkus Reviews 

“I have long been an admirer of Helen Zia’s writing and scholarship, but Last Boat Out of Shanghai is at a whole new level. It’s a true page-turner. Zia has proven once again that history is something that happens to real people. …I stayed up late reading night after nightThese are choices that refugees around the world continue to make, which helps to make this book relevant in addition to being such a compelling good read.”

Lisa See, author of Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

“In Last Boat out of Shanghai, Helen Zia provides the wide lens of history and an intimate focus on the personal torment of leaving China. Meticulously researched with a scholar’s acumen, the pages unfold with the harrowing suspense of a novel. Zia’s portraits are compassionate and heartbreaking, and they are, ultimately, the universal story of many families who leave their homeland as refugees and find less than welcoming circumstances on the other side. I read with a personal hunger to know the political and personal exigencies that led to those ‘now or never’ decisions, for they mirror the story of my own mother, who left on virtually the last boat out of Shanghai.”

Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement

Gripping, magisterial, ambitious, and intimate, Last Boat Out of Shanghai not only depicts a cataclysmic century as it was lived and felt by four very different people, it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way. What a tour de force! I could not put it down.

Gish Jen, author of Typical American

Last Boat Out of Shanghai is an impeccably researched and beautifully crafted accountHelen Zia offers a warmly human perspective on one of the most wrenching political transitions of the twentieth century. This book is a genuine pleasure to read, with much to inform and interest the general public and China specialists alike.

Elizabeth Perry, Professor of Government at Harvard University and director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute 

“Helen Zia’s new book is a true tale of wartime savagery and difficult moral choices. Rich in sweep and detail, this compelling saga is a Chinese Dr. Zhivago. Enjoy a great historical read; take the Last Boat out of Shanghai.”

James Bradley, author of Flags of our Fathers and The China Mirage 

About Helen Zia:

Helen Zia is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize and referred to by President Bill Clinton in two separate speeches in the Rose Garden. She coauthored, with Wen Ho Lee, My Country Versus Me, which reveals what happened to the Los Alamos scientist who was falsely accused of being a spy for China in the “worst case since the Rosenbergs.” She was Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine and is a founding board co-chair of the Women’s Media Center. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, books and anthologies, receiving awards for her ground-breaking stories.

The daughter of immigrants from China, Helen’s work on the 1980s Asian American landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence is featured in the Academy Award nominated documentary, Who Killed Vincent Chin? and she was profiled in Bill Moyers’ PBS series, Becoming American: The Chinese Experience. In 2008 Helen was a Torchbearer in San Francisco for the Beijing Olympics amid great controversy; in 2010, she was a witness in the federal marriage equality case decided by the US Supreme Court. Helen is a board co-chair emerita of the Women’s Media Center; she received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Law School of the City University of New York for bringing important matters of law and civil rights into public view.

She is a Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of Princeton University’s first coeducational class. She attended medical school but quit after completing two years, then went to work as a construction laborer, an autoworker, and a community organizer, after which she discovered her life’s work as a writer.