Chinese American’s Epic Memoir, “Once Our Lives,” Selected as Finalist in Nellie Bly Awards for Journalistic Non-Fiction

“Once Our Lives” has been chosen as a Nellie Bly Awards finalist

"Once Our Lives" is the amazing true tale of four generations of Chinese women overcoming war, revolution, and a strangely powerful superstition

“Once Our Lives” is the amazing true tale of four generations of Chinese women overcoming war, revolution, and a strangely powerful superstition

Qin Sun Stubis’ historical saga about four generations of Chinese women up for top prize, presented by Chanticleer International Book Awards

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES, March 1, 2024 / — Competing against books from countries around the world, Qin Sun Stubis’ historical epic, “Once Our Lives: Life, Death and Love in the Middle Kingdom,” about four generations of Chinese women who survive war, revolution and the seemingly unshakeable effects of an ancient superstition, has been selected as a finalist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards’ prestigious “Nellie Bly Awards for Journalistic Non-Fiction.” The awards event will be held on April 20 during the annual three-day Chanticleer Authors Conference held in Bellingham, Washington.

The book takes readers on a dramatic adventure from cosmopolitan 1930s Shanghai to China’s dusty and dangerous “Wild West,” and is filled with fantastical but true tales of pirates, prophecies, babies sold in opium dens, and a love story between a man whose fate was said to be sealed before he was born and a woman with three identities.

“Once Our Lives” was written by Chinese American author Qin Sun Stubis, who was born in the squalor of a Shanghai shantytown, lived through the Great Chinese Famine and Cultural Revolution, and is now a Washington, D.C.-area writer, poet and newspaper columnist. The book follows the lives of two families over the course of nearly 100 years and chronicles the extraordinary lives of ordinary people living in the shadows of some of the greatest headlines of the 20th Century.

This newest honor is part of a growing swell of praise and recognition for “Once Our Lives.” Debuting as an Amazon #1 New Release for 41 days, “Once Our Lives” has been named a Gold Winner of the international Nonfiction Book Awards, the #1 winner of the PenCraft Book Awards for literary excellence in culture/history, the 2023 Best Book Awards winner for cross-genre nonfiction, and a winner in the Readers’ Favorite 2023 International Book Awards for cultural nonfiction.

Kirkus Reviews calls the book “…a sweeping story, rich with detail” and “a wide-ranging story that keeps the reader engaged throughout.”

Ms. Magazine says it is “Engaging, endearing, heartbreaking and hopeful” and chose it as the lead recommended read for June 2023.

Glamour Magazine UK calls “Once Our Lives” a “Best New Book” and told its readers, “For some stunning non-fiction . . . this one is perfect for all fans of the multi-generational family saga.”

Readers’ Favorite gives the story five stars and says that it is “A well-written, beautifully immersive book that while non-fiction reads even better than fiction. Very highly recommended.”

Named after the renowned American inventor, suffragette and pioneering reporter, the Nellie Bly Book Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genres of long-form journalistic and investigative non-fiction and memoir.

“I am deeply honored that ‘Once Our Lives’ was selected as a finalist for the Nellie Bly Book Awards,” says Qin. “My goal in writing the book was to shine a light on the extraordinary lives of ordinary people living in anything but ordinary times and build a greater understanding between East and West, reminding all of us of our common hopes, dreams, struggles, and humanity.”

About the Author

Qin Sun Stubis was born in a Shanghai shantytown during the Great Chinese Famine. With the help of books, a borrowed radio, a benevolent teacher, and a fortuitous assignment as a library assistant, Qin discovered and fell in love with learning and literature. Eventually, through sheer grit and perseverance, Qin won admission to the famed Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and English Literature. With the help of family, friends, and a U.S. Senator, Qin was granted a visa to study abroad. She arrived in America with two suitcases and not much more. After winning several scholarships, she graduated with a master’s degree and began a career in writing.

For the past 15 years, Qin has been a newspaper columnist and writes poems, essays, short stories, and original Chinese tall tales inspired by traditional Asian themes. Her writing is inflected with both Eastern and Western flavors in ways that transcend geography to touch hearts and reveal universal truths. Learn more: Cover photo, headshot:

“Once Our Lives: Life, Death and Love in the Middle Kingdom” (Guernica Editions, ISBN # 978-1-77183-796-5, $21.95, 366 pp) is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.

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