I’m Juli, and I am a writer and the Editor-in-Chief of The Shanghai Literary Review
. We’re a literature and arts journal that publishes contemporary original work twice a year. I was born in Seoul, grew up in New Jersey, and before Shanghai worked in New York City. In addition to running the journal, I am a Lecturer of writing at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology where I teach a digital course for grad students. I’ve been in Shanghai just over two years now.
I studied creative writing and comparative literature at university, and so I’ve always been interested in the connections between places and languages. And like many writers, starting a lit mag had always been a dream of mine. When I arrived in Shanghai, I’d just left my job as a corporate copywriter for a hedge fund in New York. I knew I wanted to refocus my energies on my passions—practicality be damned!
But I moved to Shanghai kind of abruptly to be with family (I married a Shanghainese man), and so I didn’t know what the city would be able to offer an English language writer. In fact, I didn’t know much about the city at all before arriving. Not finding the type of literary community I sought, together with a few new friends, we started building what we wanted.
I was also surprised there was no English language lit mag coming out of Shanghai; there was one starting up in Beijing, and I knew of one in Chengdu as well. Of course there were a few in Hong Kong. But given the current global interest in China, East Asian literature, and translation, and given Shanghai’s unique history and literary history, I really felt there was a unique position here for us.
Over three issues, we’ve grown to a team of 15; our magazine has featured some of the leading scholars on Chinese literature, as well as some heavy hitters of contemporary writing. That there has been a healthy appetite for exploring the themes of urbanism, globalism, identity, & transnationalism through the lens of art has been a lovely surprise. Though we’ve always been passionate about our project, it’s great to have been met with a lot of support from readers.
Our magazine’s editors are dispersed between Shanghai, New York, London, & Paris. Some, like Mike Fu, our Translation Editor, have never been based in Shanghai. While others, like Nina Powles, our Poetry Editor, have moved away from Shanghai in the recent years. So we don’t have an office, all of our work is done online, and our communication is mostly through WeChat. This is great because it provides flexibility and fluidity, and Editors can represent our work in various literary communities. Issue 3 is our biggest issue yet (literally- it’s 155 pages long), we’ll be launching it officially Thursday July 19 at Lychee
, with a party themed around future possibilities.
My favorite thing about Shanghai—I guess I should say my husband? Haha. Though he spent many years in the US, he grew up in Shanghai and when we returned, he was the one who introduced me to his hometown. It’s wonderful to be a part of a local family, their history with this ever-changing place runs so deep, and I’m lucky to be able to learn about it from their stories and perspective. I used to live a bit far out in Pudong, and I was grumpy all the time. Now I’ve moved to central Puxi and I really can’t complain.
Favorite bars and restaurants…well, I don’t drink, but our magazine has hosted open mic
nights at My Place Ruin Bar
for as long as we’ve existed. It’s just such a friendly, relaxed place, and Josh is the best. For TSLR and for me, it’s a special place. Before I found out I had a gluten intolerance, I used to love the churros and chocolate dip at Tres Perros
. Now I just dream about them.
In New York, I used to love going to dim sum on the weekends. Lei Garden
is my go-to for weekend dim sum here. Their crispy pork is wonderful. Finally, I've got to mention Korean food, of course. It's up in Pudong, near line 9 Middle Yangao Road station, but Mimi's Korean BBQ
was my regular spot when I was living near there. Now that I'm a bit closer to Hongqiao, exploring Ktown is definitely on my list.
I like learning about the history of the city, so visiting museums and old mansions is something I love to do. I also like the West Bund area a lot, on the weekends I like to see art or go for a bike ride along the water. I’ve also just rented out a portion of a rooftop garden near our lane, so I’m excited to start growing some fresh fruits and vegetables.
I don’t think I’ll live here forever. My heart is in New York, as is my family. But I am lucky now to have family here in Shanghai as well. So if and when I do leave, I will always be connected to, and always be returning to Shanghai.
To celebrate the launch of the 3rd Edition of TSLR
there'll be a party at Lychee on Thursday July 19, starting at 7pm.