Book Cover


Shanghai Torah


Briana London

As World War II erupts, a young Jewish scribe flees Lithuania with his most prized possession, his in-progress copy of the Torah, setting him on an unusual collision course with a family of Chinese calligraphers living under Japanese occupation.

A stranger in a strange land, Moshe’s faith in his religion and his devotion to his beloved Elena, is challenged by the carnal attraction of Ming, the young daughter of the renown poet, Zhao Heng.

Under Master Zhao's tutelage, Moshe learns the power he wields when he sets his words onto parchment.

237 pages

About the Author

Briana London began her writing career developing stories and scripts for Disney and United Artists. Her scripts have won many writing awards.

Briana is a two-time Emmy nominated film editor and won the ACE Eddy award for best episodic editing. Her credits include many popular episodic TV shows.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, two dogs and a horse. This is her first novel.



The US Review of Books: Professional Book Reviews

Book Review by Joe Kilgore

"Two souls—separated in purpose and culture—
united by the artistry of the written word."

This is a sweeping saga of lives torn asunder not only by the maelstrom that was World War II but also by the metaphysical borders that religion, culture, and emotion sometimes erect.

While it is a story of families simply trying to exist within the greatest conflagration that the world has ever known, it is also a testament to faith, tolerance, and understanding.

Moshe is part of a Jewish family fleeing Nazi oppression. On their way to relocation in Japan, his family gets rerouted to Shanghai and Moshe to Beijing. There, he is taken in by a Chinese family. The patriarch is a fabled poet and calligrapher who helps Moshe hone his own skills, reproducing a cherished Torah he has brought with him from his homeland.

During his time with the family, Moshe becomes enchanted with the beautiful Ming and caught up in her brother’s dalliance with Mao Zedong’s communist forces. As the Japanese army rampages through China, and warlord armies fight the invaders and each other, Moshe longs to be united with his family and Elana, the Jewish girl he’s always assumed he would one day marry.

Eventually, he reaches Shanghai, but how will he resolve his feelings for Ming and Elana, and will any or all of them survive the war?

Author London has a flair for descriptive prose and proves herself an engaging storyteller. She weaves multiple characters in and out of her plot easily without skimping on idiosyncratic touches that make them memorable.

Those who like intimate stories within immense backdrops will undoubtedly enjoy this debut novel.

Mindy, the Book Yenta

Shanghai & Torah: two words that don’t usually go together.

Book Review by Mindy Holland

An actual Torah which survived the Holocaust by being wrapped around the torso of a refugee would have quite a story to tell. What if that Torah ended up in China? Then the story would be even more interesting!  Briana London took that actual historical framework and turned it into a historical fiction novel that spans three continents and two very distinct cultures.

Shanghai Torah: yuanfen (2018) starts off as a typical Jewish Holocaust tale. When the Rabbi’s family receives visas to emigrate to Japan the story gripped my attention and held it right to the end. The best part of the book was when Moshe the scribe is living in the home of a Master Chinese Poet and his communist leaning son.  Adult parent/child relationships and tradition vs. change are themes woven into the tales of both the Jewish and Chinese families.

This book is a winner for book groups. I think I’ll plan an art night around it.  Now I just need to find some folks who want to read the book then try their hand at Hebrew and Chinese calligraph

Tracking Board

Effortlessly balancing the epic and the intimate, this tale of intertwining destinies at the apex of human conflict feels like it should already be on your bookshelf alongside other classic explorations of the human experience.

As the story unfolds like the most intricate of historcal fiction novels, this writer intelligently engages with themes of religion, family, nationality, and the power of the written word.

This story is packed with complex and unique characters that jump off the page and into your heart, with no role too small to be treated with depth and personal care.

Anchored by well-researched, organic, and powerful writing, this manuscript is a true literary accomplishment.