Disappearing Shanghai: Photographs and Poems of an Intimate Way of Life by Howard W French and Qui Xiaolong
The contemporary world changes so quickly that we often try to catch it in the glimpse of an eye or through the flashing Instagram apps on our phones, knowing that this very moment will never appear exactly the same again.
In his debut photography book, Howard W French captures scenes from old Shanghai neighborhoods, diminishing one by one due to the expansive urbanization of the city.
Don’t expect to see rich Chinese businessmen and well-known socialites from the movie screen. Instead you’ll meet street vendors, old men standing in front of their houses, couples in humbly furnished rooms and scenes from a street that by now could be completely different or gone.
The eighty black-and-white photos lack caption or description. Instead, they’re accompanied by intimate Eastern poems and short stories written by Shanghai-native author Qui Xiaolong. Each of them is dedicated to the people in the picture, while the stories often come through the perspective of Xiaolong’s most well-known character, Inspector Chen.
French’s photos are the result of five years shooting through the rapidly changing streets of Shanghai, while working for The New York Times.
Disappearing Shanghai: Photographs and Poems of an Intimate Way of Life comes in a beautiful hardcover edition published by Homa & Sekey Books, right on time to make an exotic and sophisticated Christmas present.
It’s the kind of a book you could open every once in a while on a random page, stop time for a minute to look into the eyes of a stranger and then jump back into your fast-paced life. As Howard W French says at the end of the introduction: “Just because it will all be gone soon is no reason for us to forget.”
Photos: Howard French
Disappearing Shanghai: Photographs and Poems of an Intimate Way of Life is available through Amazon for $29.95 with free US shipping. More information is available on Howard French’s and Qiu Xiaolong’s websites.