“These violent delights have violent ends. And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which as they kiss, consume.”
These Violent Delights (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2020) is the debut novel by Chloe Gong. At first glance, the book seems like Romeo and Juliet transplanted to 1920s Shanghai: two rival families, and two main characters: Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov. But Chloe Gong takes the tropes of Romeo and Juliet and transforms them in ways beyond the new setting: Juliette and Roma have already had their teenage relationship, an epidemic of madness stalks the population of Shanghai, and there are rumors of a monster in the Huangpu River.
These Violent Delights is a thrilling tale of intrigue and investigation, woven with horror and fantasy elements. More information can be found at Chloe’s website.
In this interview, Chloe and I talk about her book, and how its elements connect to the setting of 1920s Shanghai. We talk about the various ways she works in the tropes of Romeo and Juliet into the story, and some of the unintended parallels to the present day!
Chloe Gong is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying English and international relations. During her breaks, she’s either at home in New Zealand or visiting her many relatives in Shanghai. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear when “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” is chanted into a mirror three times.
Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.