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The Porcelain Thief : Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China
by Huan Hsu


Overview -

A journalist travels throughout mainland China and Taiwan in search of his family s hidden treasure and comes to understand his ancestry as he never has before.
In 1938, when the Japanese arrived in Huan Hsu s great-great-grandfather Liu s Yangtze River hometown of Xingang, Liu was forced to bury his valuables, including a vast collection of prized antique porcelain, and undertake a decades-long trek that would splinter the family over thousands of miles.  Read more...


 
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More About The Porcelain Thief by Huan Hsu
 
 
 
Overview

A journalist travels throughout mainland China and Taiwan in search of his family s hidden treasure and comes to understand his ancestry as he never has before.
In 1938, when the Japanese arrived in Huan Hsu s great-great-grandfather Liu s Yangtze River hometown of Xingang, Liu was forced to bury his valuables, including a vast collection of prized antique porcelain, and undertake a decades-long trek that would splinter the family over thousands of miles. Many years and upheavals later, Hsu, raised in Salt Lake City and armed only with curiosity, moves to China to work in his uncle s semiconductor chip business. Once there, a conversation with his grandmother, his last living link to dynastic China, ignites a desire to learn more about not only his lost ancestral heirlooms but also porcelain itself. Mastering the language enough to venture into the countryside, Hsu sets out to separate the layers of fact and fiction that have obscured both China and his heritage and finally complete his family s long march back home.
Melding memoir, travelogue, and social and political history, The Porcelain Thief offers an intimate and unforgettable way to understand the complicated events that have defined China over the past two hundred years and provides a revealing, lively perspective on contemporary Chinese society from the point of view of a Chinese American coming to terms with his hyphenated identity.

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Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307986306
  • ISBN-10: 0307986306
  • Publisher: Crown Pub
  • Publish Date: March 2015
  • Page Count: 380


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Cultural Heritage
Books > History > Asia - China

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-03-16
  • Reviewer: Staff

American-born journalist Hsu hears that his great-great grandfather, a landowner in Xingang, buried a large collection of porcelain when Japan invaded China in 1938. Hsu sets out to find this treasure trove more than 70 years later. The book recounts Hsu's travel to China and ensuing three-year search, "equipped with only a few threads of a family legend and an irresistible compulsion to know more about it." This compulsion drives the story as he meets and interviews family members and acquaintances, and gradually "unearth pieces of family's history and to weave them into a coherent narrative." He conducts his search, in his own words, "naïvely, indirectly, protractedly." While it is hard to argue with this characterization of the search and the book as a whole, the book's naïveté and indirectness enable the narrative to wander across genres. In addition to documentary and family history, Hsu explores China's social and political history, as well as his personal feelings about China, and the value of documenting and sharing Chinese family stories. Hsu's fluid writing helps to synthesize these threads into a coherent story well worth reading. (Apr.)

 
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