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August 07, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE FRONTIERS OF LOVE by Diana Chang (University of Washington Press: $14.95; 246 pp.). Originally published in 1956, Chang's novel depicts characters of mixed Eurasian ancestry grappling with their identities. As the overseas Japanese empire crumbles, the old French Concession in Shanghai remains a cultural no-man's land, inhabited by expatriate Europeans and ethnic Chinese who "were either wealthy, Westernized, or prayed to a Christian God." Ignoring the conflicts wracking China, Sylvia Chen and her young friends who appear simultaneously "inexperienced and disillusioned" seek to resolve their ethnic allegiance: Uncomfortable with Occidentals, but divorced from their Asian heritage, they bury their Angst in idle pleasures.

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