Not Your China Doll: The Wild and Shimmering Life of Anna May Wong


Author: Katie Gee Salisbury

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.

  • Hardcover
  • 480 pages

About the author

Katie's work has appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Believer, the Asian American Writers' Workshop, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship in 2021 and gave the TED Talk “As American as Chop Suey.” She also writes the newsletter Half-Caste Woman. A fifth-generation Chinese American who hails from Southern California, she now lives in Brooklyn.

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