Not Your China Doll: The Wild and Shimmering Life of Anna May Wong (Hardcover)
Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
“Enlightening, nuanced, and honest.”—Lisa See
Set against the glittering backdrop of Los Angeles during the gin-soaked Jazz Age and the rise of Hollywood, this debut book celebrates Anna May Wong, the first Asian American movie star, to bring an unsung heroine to light and reclaim her place in cinema history.
Before Constance Wu, Sandra Oh, Awkwafina, or Lucy Liu, there was Anna May Wong. In her time, she was a legendary beauty, witty conversationalist, and fashion icon. Plucked from her family’s laundry business in Los Angeles, Anna May Wong rose to stardom in Douglas Fairbanks’s blockbuster The Thief of Bagdad. Fans and the press clamored to see more of this unlikely actress, but when Hollywood repeatedly cast her in stereotypical roles, she headed abroad in protest.
Anna May starred in acclaimed films in Berlin, Paris, and London. She dazzled royalty and heads of state across several nations, leaving trails of suitors in her wake. She returned to challenge Hollywood at its own game by speaking out about the industry’s blatant racism. She used her new stature to move away from her typecasting as the China doll or dragon lady, and worked to reshape Asian American representation in film.
Filled with stories of capricious directors and admiring costars, glamorous parties and far-flung love affairs, Not Your China Doll showcases the vibrant, radical life of a groundbreaking artist.
About the Author
Katie Gee Salisbury has spoken and written about Anna May Wong on MSNBC, in the New York Times, and in Vanity Fair. She also writes the newsletter "Half-Caste Woman." She was a 2021 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship finalist and gave the TED Talk “As American as Chop Suey.” A fifth-generation Chinese American from Southern California, she now lives in Brooklyn. Not Your China Doll is her first book.
“A well-researched, thoughtful portrait of a groundbreaking woman whose ambition and artistic integrity far exceeded the limitations and challenges of her lifetime.”—EW's "Books We Are Excited to Read in 2024"
"Here at last is a biography of a groundbreaking and inspiring woman that is well-researched, thoughtful, enlightening, nuanced, and honest. The access Salisbury had to Anna May Wong’s family and friends places this biography above all others.”—Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of Lady Tan’s Circle of Women
“History has long neglected the wild and inspiring story of Anna May Wong, a taboo-smashing star whose career left an indelible mark on Hollywood. With impeccable research and eloquent prose, Katie Gee Salisbury captures not only Wong’s grand ambition and delicious swagger, but also the significant challenges and prejudices she faced during her career. Not Your China Doll is sure to enthrall anyone fascinated by audacious, before-their-time women.”—Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghosts of Eden Park
“Anna May Wong was a trailblazer who continues to inspire generations of actors, and she truly comes to life in this irresistible read. Her story navigating stardom in the early days of Hollywood is dazzling, and her resilience opened doors for the many who came after her.”—Simu Liu, actor and New York Times bestselling author of We Were Dreamers
“Katie Gee Salisbury has restored Anna May Wong to her rightful place in Hollywood history and done it with great panache. A must-read for anyone interested in popular culture and women’s history.”—Laurence Leamer, New York Times bestselling author of Capote’s Women and Hitchcock’s Blondes
"Generations before diversity and inclusion became cultural buzzwords, Anna May Wong blazed a trail—with passion and style. Katie Gee Salisbury's vivid biography of the first Asian American movie star is not only a fun, transporting trip to a golden age, but also a contemporary consideration of why Anna May Wong still matters. Not Your China Doll is a must read, for anyone who loves pop culture or cares about representation in Hollywood."—Phil Yu, founder of Angry Asian Man and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Rise
“Not Your China Doll is a remarkable biography, bursting with life on every page. Carefully crafted and meticulously researched, Katie Gee Salisbury’s beautifully woven portrait of Anna May Wong is both illuminating and entirely unforgettable.”—Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove
“Not Your China Doll is the book I’ve always wanted to read. Anna May Wong finally gets the starring role she deserves.”—Carla Valderrama, author of This Was Hollywood
“This compelling account of Anna May Wong’s life and career as a film star is hard to put down... Salisbury is a skilled storyteller, seamlessly interweaving historical context, behind-the-scenes Hollywood anecdotes, and forthright takes on the social milieu of the time... A thoroughly researched and superbly written study of a remarkable woman. An important addition to film history and cultural studies collections.”—Library Journal, starred review
“A spirited biography... a rousing testament to Wong's talents.”—Publishers Weekly
“Salisbury brings the life and career of this legendary film actor into sharp, immediate focus in a vibrant biography that celebrates Wong’s tenacity and commitment to her race and culture.”—Booklist