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Running Through Beijing Paperback – July 15, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

Review


Praise for Running Through Beijing:

“The novel captures the taste and tension of Beijing better than any I’ve ever read.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

"Running through Beijing is clean and fast, deeply felt and very smart: a profoundly engaging story about a certain kind of honor, and a certain kind of thief, and a life that feels hidden in plain sight."
Roy Kesey, author of Pacazo and Any Deadly Thing

“Xu Zechen has captured with colloquial grace the frenetic pace of a Beijing heartbeat where dust storms, crackdowns, pirated DVD porn, and double lives are the norm. . . . Eric Abrahamsen’s translation sparkles like a crystal bobblehead.”
Jeffrey Yang, author of An Aquarium and Vanishing-Line

“A window onto Beijing’s seamy, crime-ridden underbelly . . . a vibrant story by one of China’s rising young writers. I’d check it out if I were you.” — Book Riot

“Uplifting, thrilling. . . . The novel itself, with its sharp, detailed prose and vivid storytelling, creates an exhilaration, a giddy hope in the reader . . .” — Numéro Cinq

"Its fast-paced, engaging, realistic plot keeps the pages turning at a furious pace, and when the end arrives all too quickly, the crushing beauty of its final message leaves one desperate for more pages . . ." — Typographical Era

“As the construction sites and desertification in surrounding areas raise dust storms in Beijing, the capital is covered in a haze of moral uncertainty. This is the setting of the story of Dunhuang, seller of fake IDs and pirated DVDs, but not all is unclear: there’s the clarity of Xu’s realistic treatment of life for the outcastes of China’s development, and of Abrahamsen’s exacting translation into English.”
Lucas Klein, translator of Notes on the Mosquito

"Xu has something real to offer the ever-burgeoning literature of Chinese despair. — Words Without Borders

"This novel’s style is sparse and direct, representing a divergence from traditional Chinese literature" — National Endowment for the Arts

"This is a fine novel. . . . It is likely to be enjoyed." — Asian Review of Books

Praise for Xu Zechen:
"His silent toiling has given voice to the equally silent social classes struggling on the boundaries of the country's urban landscape" — China Daily

"Reflects on the scattergun entrepreneurialism and economic inequality of the new Beijing" — The Financial Times

"The glory of the post-1970 writers" — Master magazine

About the Author

Xu Zechen is the author of the novels Midnight's Door, Night Train, and Heaven on Earth and was selected by People's Literature as one of the "Future 20" best Chinese writers under 41. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, he lives in Beijing.

Eric Abrahamsen is the recipient of translation grants from PEN and the NEA and has written for The New York Times, among others. In 2012 Penguin published his translation of The Civil Servant's Notebook by Wang Xiaofang. He lives in Beijing.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Two Lines Press (July 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193188336X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931883368
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bdallmann on May 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
See more reviews at mybooklust.wordpress.com

Just released from prison for peddling fake IDs, 25-year-old Dunhuang finds himself having to start over from scratch in Beijing. His first night in the city he meets a woman who happens to sell pirated DVDs, giving him an “in” for a new way to earn a living. Now he needs to work to get back on his feet in order to save enough money to rescue his friend from prison. Throughout it all, Dunhuang must learn how to navigate through complex human relationships while still focusing on what’s most important.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. I’ll admit that I didn’t expect much from a book by an author I had never heard of published by a relatively small publisher. Most of the Chinese books I’ve read were long and tedious – two things that this book is not. It’s fast-paced and enthralling, with well-developed, likeable characters and a solid plot.

A story about a pirated DVD peddler is just what I needed. Having spent 13 months living in Shanghai, I’ve seen plenty of these guys. I know how much the DVDs cost, what movies I’m likely to see, and what tricks they use to convince you to buy. And I was tickled to find all that in the book. I know these characters, but had never gotten a glimpse into their lives before. Besides that, the book captures the everyday petty corruption and tedious bureaucracy that is such a part of life in China. And it’s nice to hear a Chinese national also complain about landlords that demand three months rent at a time.

TL;DR: Running Through Beijing</i> is definitely worth the short amount of time it will take to read it, and certainly worth the $12.95 list price. It’s a great insight into modern China for those who have never been there, and an amusing, familiar story for those who have.
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By Jim L. Elliott on October 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting insights into the "gray markets" of China
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