Friday, June 19, 2009

Jennifer Cody Epstein

Jennifer Cody Epstein's acclaimed novel The Painter from Shanghai is a re-imagining of the actual life of Pan Yuliang and her transformation from prostitute to post-Impressionist painter.

From a Q & A with Epstein at Shortcut:

You are an American writer, based in New York. How did you hear about Pan Yuliang and what were your intentions in writing about her?

It actually began at the Guggenheim Museum, about ten years ago. My husband and some relatives and I were at an exhibition on Modern Chinese Art, and there was just one image by Pan Yuliang on display. But it drew me over immediately. It was a typical Pan Yuliang in that it was very evocative of Matisse and Cezanne, and the bright, bold colors and distinctly Western setting (as compared to the huge propaganda-style images and much more subtle ink paintings around it) really stood out for me. I went over to see more and when I read about Pan’s story (prostitute-concubine-Post-Impressionist icon; really?!) it just blew me away. I’d never heard of her before—but I couldn’t, at that moment, understand why---it struck me that everyone should know about her. I guess I hoped that by writing this novel I’d both educate myself about how that transformation happened(not just factually, but emotionally—in a way only fiction can really get close to) and also spread the word about a woman I consider to be—at least in the West—an unsung feminist hero.

What is the perception of Pan Yuliang today in China? Do Chinese women perceive her as a role model or as a failure?

I think that within the context of women artists in general she’s...[read on]
Learn more about The Painter from Shanghai and its author at Jennifer Cody Epstein's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Painter from Shanghai.

My Book, The Movie: The Painter from Shanghai.

--Marshal Zeringue