Shhhhhh — It’s golden, it’s black.

A haunting love story a la Romeo and Juliet of the Orient A love that cannot be but a love that will grow old during the most devastating war in history.


Set against the backdrop of the Second World War/Sino-Japanese war (1931-1945), the story centres around the fatal love between a married Chinese woman and a young Japanese soldier. However, the fantastic tale is not as simple as its plot suggests. In the forties of the 20th century, one summer day, on the bending shore of the magical, eternal river Yangtze, a woman met a young stranger she falls in love with. But he can’t love her back, and she can’t love him if she would have known why he has come here to find her and what kind of cruel crime the young man has committed…

Butterfly is a modern fairy tale that explores passion beyond all forbidden boundaries and love tested to its limits to defy even death. Taking a stab at sensitive historical, social issues such as the Rape of Nanking, the question arises, what is love? Where is the salvation in all the heartlessness of mankind? Are we able to love, a deed that is so often taken for granted? Perhaps love is neither simple nor always pleasant or even inhuman. In the end the protagonists have to undergo a metamorphosis in order to be reunited again on the bank of the Yangtze river where they met seven decades ago.

Keywords: Crime/Thriller; China; World War II


The Aoyama Reien from the Meiji era is held by Tokyoites to be the most beautiful spot of the capital. In daylight hours, traces of incense from the burial ground lends a benign, impenetrable look to the colossal glass buildings lining up the streets, harmoniously mingling with the pale scent of flowers and hushed aromas of fresh pastry. Visitors to the graveyard would notice an old man of measured gait and unflustered guise taking to a quiet corner. For a few minutes he would sit still, lost in a remote ocean of memories. People assume he is talking to the dead, and if they could have heard his mind, they would catch these lines cited over and over. Ce toit tranquille, où marchent des colombes, entre les pins palpite, entre les tombes;Midi le juste y compose de feux. La mer, la mer, toujours recommencee…the sea in flames, that sea forever starting and re-starting. They watch him pull out a new sheet of paper. The rest of the day he shall not hear black crows cry, his pen scratching away on the grainy surface. He likes the fan shape of paper of his choice. It helps him remember that any storm in the world will pass, damp typhoon, destructive hurricane, cosmic cyclone, any brouhaha in the pantheon of weather, except a tickling summer breeze of memory that enters his heart like a billowing smooth waltz and tears it apart

Butterfly, a novel by Julie Oyang, p. 116

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julie 超辣

Determined dreamer. Published author in English, Dutch, and Chinese. Former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) captain turned artist entrepreneur and screenwriter. She survived the Cultural Revolution as a baby. In the 1990’s she left for London and has lived and worked in free exile ever since. Her work covers a wide spectrum. As journalist, she creates content covering a range of topics on contemporary China from an insider perspective. In 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, she hosted a 5-episode talk show TV China for Netherlands’ national broadcaster and discussed China’s media landscape with media stars and experts from both China and the Netherlands. From 2013-2016 she was the Editor-in-Chief of the English/Chinese bilingual magazine XiN 新, focusing on today’s China shaped by consumerism. O’yang contributes a weekly column to Hoje Macau on contemporary Chinese art and culture. Her English language book titles include: Butterfly, a historical crime love story set in the Second World War. Since May 2016 O'yang has been collaborating with Flemish photographer Filip Naudts on an art project, which has resulted in the photo novel The Picture of Dorya Glenn. Julie works from the Netherlands and Denmark.

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  1. Reblogged this on ndy93blog and commented:
    Now I’m Studying -In the University about The 2nd World War…The War Between Japan and China…I Had alreadt Read Lin Yutang (“One Moment In Peking”…Emily Hann(“the Soong Sisters”)…and now-I’ll be Happy To Read Julie O’yang’s Novels.Daniela From Israel

    1. Hi Daniela,
      I am very happy to meet a new reader and a new friend! Please ask me questions or leave me a note anytime. oyang.julie (at) gmail.com. Thank you! Looking forward to getting to know you!

  2. […] Shhhhhh — It's golden, it's black.. […]

  3. In Our Lectures Included-“The Rape of Nanking” We Have to Watch the Movie “City Of Life and Death”Tragic Movie-and -also to Study about The Tragic Story Of The Whole War Victims In Japan China and Korea…

    1. Hi Daniela,
      I wrote a review for Lu Chuan’s City of Life and Death, it’s here
      Greetings from Europe!

  4. Julie, you are a wonderful, evocative writer–and in so any languages! I have “Butterfly” on my PC but have been kidnapped by quotidian projects. (I’ll be back!) One comment: I noticed you use the Wade-Giled transliteration. Any thoughts on this vs. the oh-so-confusing pinyin?

    1. Walt, thank you so much! I look forward to your reading, and I’m not saying this because I think it’s a polite thing to say. Re Wade-Giles vs. Pinyin transcript. I grew up with Pinyin (PRC), Wade-Giles is foreign to me. So I’m happy that Pinyin is the official transcript today, even though most people have no idea what I’m talking about. Nevertheless, in order to give my subject matter a more correct historical context, I prefer to keep the names of persons and places from pre-PRC as they were used during a particular time period. For example, I’m inclined to use University of Peking (vs. Beijing) because that is the original name of the institution when it was founded on 11 June 1898 and so on. Thank you again for your wonderful support! I’m a little teary.

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