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Writing the longtang way of life

‘Looked down upon from the highest point in the city, Shanghai’s longtang – her vast neighborhoods inside enclosed alleys – are a magnifi cent sight.’ Thus opens the award-winning novel Song of Everlasting Sorrow by the infl uential writer Wang Anyi. In this novel, Shanghai’s alleyway houses are brought to life by meticulous descriptions that seem to anthropomorphise the city. A unique housing typology, the experience of its residents and Shanghai history, all made one through the literary imagination.

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