At once a page-turning murder mystery and a work of deep investigation, And The City Swallowed Them is a true crime nonfiction story based on dozens of interviews with investigators, models, and both the victim's and the convicted murderer's families. The short book moves from Shanghai's back alleys to the seedy underbelly of high fashion, where young models travel alone to strange cities, often with falsified work papers, and sleep ten to an apartment between cover shoots. Set against the backdrop of Shanghai's explosive urbanization, the work also explores the world of China's liudong renkou, or floating population, where the hopes of newcomers from poor villages often turn to dust—leading some to horribly desperate acts.
The debut digital title from the writers cooperative Deca, And The City Swallowed Them overturns assumptions about both China’s feared justice system, where the conviction rate for criminals is 99.9 percent, and the glamorous world of international modeling. More than a murder tale, And The City Swallowed Them lays bare the powerful forces that send two families on a collision course from distant sides of the Pacific.
PRAISE FOR AND THE CITY SWALLOWED THEM
"By developing each arc along the collision course and detailing the range of social forces that contributed to the tragedy, Hvistendahl shows how essential and illuminating the best long-form journalism can be." —San Francisco Chronicle
"The versatile and talented Mara Hvistendahl...[brings] specific settings and distinctive individuals vividly to life in a manner that makes them seem utterly unique — yet also just like places and people the reader has encountered in totally different parts of the world.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
"And The City Swallowed Them looks at the world that brought two different kinds of newcomers together—foreigners, including young models fighting for emerging opportunities in high fashion, and China’s own migrants, including those traveling from poor villages who were willing to go to desperate measures to scrape together their own living.”—Wall Street Journal China Real Time
“A tragic and fascinating portrait of the unglamorous subculture often found in second-tier modeling markets around the world.”—Fashionista
“What seems like a cut-and-dried crime story becomes, in Hvistendahl's capable hands, a tale of two young adults adrift in a city far from their rural homes…. In this meticulously researched account of two lonely young people whose lives erupted in deadly violence, we discover the human face of the urban future.” —io9
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mara Hvistendahl is an award-winning author and journalist and a founding member of the writers' cooperative Deca. A contributing editor and writer for Science magazine based in Shanghai, she has also written for Harper’s, The Atlantic, Scientific American, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Popular Science, Foreign Policy, and other publications. She has spent much of the past decade in China, reporting on everything from archaeology to sex. Her first book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Pulitzer Prize. She has been featured as a radio and television commentator on MSNBC, the BBC, the CBC, PRI’s Marketplace, NPR’s Morning Edition, and elsewhere.