These are the exciting and saddening, humorous and confusing stories of utterly ordinary people who are living through China's extraordinary transformations. The immense variety in the lives of these Chinese characters dispels any lingering sense that China has a monolithic population or is just a place where dissidents fight Communist Party loyalists and laborers create goods for millionaires.
Chinese Characters is a collection, as Pankaj Mishra writes in his foreword, "to herald a new golden age of journalism about a ceaselessly fascinating country." Contributors include a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a Macarthur Fellow, the China correspondent to a major Indian newspaper, and scholars whose depth of understanding is matched only by the humanity with which they treat their subjects. Their stories together create a multi-faceted portrait of a country in motion and an introduction to some of the best writing on China today. With contributions from:
Leslie T. Chang
Michelle Dammon Loyalka
- ISBN-13: 9780520270275
- ISBN-10: 0520270274
- Publisher: University of California Press
- Publish Date: September 2012
- Page Count: 231
- Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-07-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Edited by UC-Irvine history professor Wasserstrom (China in the 21st Century) and journalist Shah, this anthology chronicles the difficulties and contradictions faced by Chinese citizens, as well as emerging opportunities. As Shah notes in her afterword, “Oversimplified views, which too often pit Communist Party loyalists against a few famous dissidents, have done much to fuel cartoonish understandings of China.” The reality is far more complex, and in providing 15 essays by different authors, the book shows citizens (and foreigners) of all ages adjusting to the rapidly modernizing country, working both in cautious tandem with, and against, the single-party government. With the rise of the middle class, the prevalence of migrant labor, and a measure of independence from government control of private life, citizens are seizing strange new opportunities: bringing rock guitar to the Chinese masses, starting a rental car business, or simply floating from job to job. However, problems abound: racial tensions between the Uyghurs and Han Chinese simmer; activists reveal the hidden environmental costs of massive government works projects; and children spend every minute of their days on schoolwork. The essays cover a panoply of issues facing modern China, and the book’s combination of scope and intimacy is central to its achievement. (Sept.)