In the tradition of "In Patagonia" and "Great Plains," Michael Meyer's "In Manchuria" is a scintillating combination of memoir, contemporary reporting, and historical research, presenting a unique profile of China's legendary northeast territory.Read more...
In the tradition of "In Patagonia" and "Great Plains," Michael Meyer's "In Manchuria" is a scintillating combination of memoir, contemporary reporting, and historical research, presenting a unique profile of China's legendary northeast territory. For three years, Meyer rented a home in the rice-farming community of Wasteland, hometown to his wife's family, and their personal saga mirrors the tremendous change most of rural China is undergoing, in the form of a privately held rice company that has built new roads, introduced organic farming, and constructed high-rise apartments into which farmers can move in exchange for their land rights. Once a commune, Wasteland is now a company town, a phenomenon happening across China that Meyer documents for the first time; indeed, not since Pearl Buck wrote "The Good Earth" has anyone brought rural China to life as Meyer has here.
Amplifying the story of family and Wasteland, Meyer takes us on a journey across Manchuria's past, a history that explains much about contemporary China--from the fall of the last emperor to Japanese occupation and Communist victory. Through vivid local characters, Meyer illuminates the remnants of the imperial Willow Palisade, Russian and Japanese colonial cities and railways, and the POW camp into which a young American sergeant parachuted to free survivors of the Bataan Death March. "In Manchuria" is a rich and original chronicle of contemporary China and its people.
- ISBN-13: 9781620402863
- ISBN-10: 1620402866
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Publish Date: February 2015
- Page Count: 384
- Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-12-01
- Reviewer: Staff
The Chinese countryside struggles to preserve its soul while edging toward modern capitalism in this vivid snapshot of China’s far northeastern region of Manchuria. Journalist Meyer (The Last Days of Old Beijing) spent three years living in his in-laws’ village of Wasteland—which, despite the name, turns out to be a lively place. With delightful character sketches and casual but sharp-eyed reporting, his portrait of Wasteland captures the close-knit warmth of rural life—everyone knows everything about Meyer’s business, especially the village “aunties” who are forever kibitzing his parenting plans—as well as the hilarious ways that Chinese and American cultures mistranslate each other. Along the way he tours Manchuria’s historical sites and stilted museum exhibitions, while recounting its tumultuous past as a battleground fought over by Japan, Russia, and Chinese Nationalists and Communists. In Wasteland, he observes a quieter upheaval as the town is gradually taken over by an agribusiness that wants to move farmers off the land and into apartment complexes, a development that promises advantages—steadier incomes, indoor plumbing instead of frigid outhouses—while threatening to unravel the social fabric. Meyer’s entertaining mix of memoir, travelogue, and sociology yields a rich, insightful view of China in transition. Photos. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Literary Agency. (Feb.)