A young Chinese woman named Fusang is kidnapped and sold into prostitution in San Francisco in the late 19th Century. A modern Chinese author examines her, trying to make sense of her life and her times. Appealing in her simplicity and beauty, Fusang is pursued by a young, well-to-do white man and a charismatic Chinese gangster. Her story takes place at brutal and lawless time and place, when the Chinese were a despised group. Fusang mysteriously transcends the horrors of her time and the stigma of her profession.