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Collected through intimate encounters over an impressive range of travels, Mexico's menagerie of voices tell the unique story of contemporary China's seismic social shifts from the point of view of the marginalized and disaffected. A musician and writer, Mexico is a remarkably eloquent and perceptive participant-observer. Focusing on and dissecting broader cultural, political and economic issues in episodic chapters, he puts faces and names to the staggering statistics. We learn about the government-estimated 5 to 10 million active homosexuals, through the story of a closeted graphic designer. We meet an infamous photojournalist who chronicles China's mining disasters, corruption, car accidents and environmental degradation. We encounter bohemians—80-year-old women selling marijuana on the side of busy streets and slackers whose indolence is a protest against the frenzied consumerism that surrounds them. One such self-proclaimed social parasite opened a bar in a trendy area of Beijing to sell drinks at cost and only to his friends. The overall effect is a seamless portrait of a complex modern society in which an ancient culture persists in spite of lightning-speed economic changes. (Apr.)
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Through encounters with sundry artists, musicians, students, bar owners, gangsters, prostitutes, and slackers, Mexico assembles a compelling portrait of China�s contemporary youth culture and the limits of Communist control. The book�s subjects include a twenty-seven-year-old self-taught disaster photographer from the coal country in Shenyang; a twenty-nine-year-old mobster in Qingdao; a twenty-two-year-old Hendrixian Uighur guitar player making a splash in Shanghai; a Beijing university student who wishes that the system encouraged less rote memorization and more original thought; and an investigative journalist who no longer publishes himself, instead leading Western reporters to controversial stories. Mexico, a musician and poet who was a student in Beijing and subsequently managed a night club, has assumed a pseudonym to avoid trouble with the Chinese authorities. While occasionally anxious about his youth and his lack of credentials, he is a good listener and knows how to tell a provocative and illuminating story.
Very interesting and quick read. My bf's Mom recommended this book to me since we are traveling to China together later this year.Published 1 month ago by Dangerboots
Maybe the best book on what life can be like in China. Like Mr. Mexico, I lived in China for several years and couldn't find anything to read that told the story of the actual... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Peyton
I am moving to Shanghai soon and this gave me a different take on China than I have read anywhere else.Published 3 months ago by Lisanne Therese
Great look at the other side of China - - artists and others who share their story about doing just what they want, even in a repressive society. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Chicago Jane
I lived in Shanghai for a year in college in the mid 90's and some of the stories in the book really resonated with what I saw there. Read morePublished on January 31, 2011 by Ericka
This book is written by a very intelligent and articulate young man. It's interesting to note that the author observed all these things while in his 20s and had sense enough to... Read morePublished on September 20, 2010 by Lemas Mitchell
fun and insightful vignettes into moderm chinas cultural and generational clashes. worthy buy as a lghter but still relevant read. Read morePublished on February 8, 2010 by Aryeh Kushner
My travel companions and I read this book during our second lengthy travel through China and found it a great complement to what we could see on our own and to Peter Hessler's... Read morePublished on September 20, 2009 by Anca
This firsthand memoir of the author's encounter with the 'new China' and its cultures and characters makes for a key travelogue focusing on contemporary Chinese culture from the... Read morePublished on September 18, 2009 by Midwest Book Review