From Publishers Weekly
In this memoir, entrepreneur Kitto describes his complex relationship with modern China, including the spectacular rise and fall of his magazine publishing business and his love affair with Moganshan, a small mountain village outside of Shanghai where he made his home. While he touches on the Chinese government's seizure of his media company in a few rancorous chapters, the business story takes a back seat to his personal journey and discovery of Moganshan, where he sought refuge from the harried pace and summer heat of Shanghai. During the rapid success of his business and through the ensuing legal and business roadblocks he encounters, Moganshan and the dilapidated villa he leases and renovates become a haven for Kitto, his family and his expat friends. Kitto's descriptive prose, although frequently uneven, sometimes self-indulgently therapeutic and marked by a self-conscious struggle to avoid imperialistic tones, shows clear affection for the country and draws the reader into Chinese culture, politics, history, marriage, business interactions and folklore through the lens of his daily life and relationships with the people of Moganshan. (Apr.)
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Kitto was a captain in the Welsh guards and a metals trader in London before locating to China in the late 1990s. He published a very successful English-language entertainment and review magazine for seven years, the entire time navigating the labyrinth of Chinese bureaucracy just to stay in business, paying off high-ranking officials and even forming a partnership with the Chinese government to safeguard his success. Just as he was on the brink of achieving full control of his business, the Communist government appropriated his magazine title, his staff, and finally the legal rights to his trademark. He was accused of being a pimp, a pornographer, a spy, and a Muslim separatist terrorist, and he was banned from the publishing industry. Yet his love for China never waned, and as he settled into a more reclusive life in the hills, he gained a deeper appreciation for the land and people of the village of Moganshan outside of Shanghai. His story reveals the frustrations and contradictions that are just part of the impediments to any foreign-run business concerns in China. --David Siegfried