China book
March 13, 2006 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of any good modern books about China? Nonficiton preferably, along the lines of Maximum Bombay, but for Beijing or Shanghai? Stuff that reveals the nature of the place as it undergoes rapid change...
posted by jgballard to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"China Wakes" by Nicholas Christof and his wife Sheryl Wudunn comes to mind. It's a bit dated, but no matter what you think of Christof as a reporter, it's a good read.
posted by sour cream at 11:12 AM on March 13, 2006

Jan Wong's China is a pretty good read (for the "prequel" you can check out her Red China Blues.)

The Good Women of China also provides interesting insight to the lives of Chinese women.

I most recently read The Diary of Ma-Yan, which is an amazing first-person account by a 13 year old girl in poor, rural China who just wants to go to school and provide for her family when she grows up.
posted by phoenixc at 12:02 PM on March 13, 2006

James Clavell is good for semi-recent fiction. I've got _Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China_ on my list.
posted by kcm at 12:55 PM on March 13, 2006

I read a book a few years agom, the title of which I cannot remember - it was something along the lines of "The (name of chinese village) Bible". It was a look at day-to-day life in a small Chinese farming village during the Culltural Revolution. It reminded me of "The Painted Bird" by Kosinski, in that the events (supossedly true) were very surreal. I've tried googling for it, but "china" and "bible" turn up a lot of noise.
posted by skwm at 1:54 PM on March 13, 2006

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng is a very interesting and easy read.
posted by Staggering Jack at 2:42 PM on March 13, 2006

I really liked "Iron and Silk" by Mark Salzman.
posted by Rubber Soul at 2:52 PM on March 13, 2006

I read and really enjoyed Wild Swans for a class I took about China last year. I think it fits your criteria perfectly as it traces three generations of the author's family history and does a good job showing (and explaining, even to those with little/no background in Chinese history) rapid changes by showcasing examples within the family and the country as a whole.

In the same class, we used The Search for Modern China which is a bit more textbookish, but was very interesting. It was basically a collection of first hand accounts/documents from various periods of Chinese history with explanations of thier significance.
posted by nuclear_soup at 4:18 PM on March 13, 2006

I'll second sour cream's recommendation of China Wakes. An excellent read.
posted by tellurian at 8:10 PM on March 13, 2006

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