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Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China Hardcover – March 29, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595586202
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595586209
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

China—powerful, expanding, and evolving—remains inscrutable to Westerners confounded by its contradictions, as well as the rapidity of its growth and the intensity of its repressive government. A child of the Cultural Revolution, Zha (China Pop) offers a nuanced and textured picture of a country constrained by totalitarianism but buoyed by the pioneering spirit and resilience of its people. The author observes a shift from a post-Tiananmen political idealism to a steely but hopeful pragmatism among many of her compatriots. It's a conflict that exists at the heart of Chinese contemporary culture, and one Zha illuminates through interviews with writers and academics dodging or suffering censorship, her own political dissident brother languishing in jail, or Zhang Dazhong, who, motivated by the political imprisonment of his mother, built a fortune and spent his life attempting to clear her name. Zha's effort is an honest and thoughtful portrait that forces outsiders to check their preconceptions at the door and see China as a convergence of passion and trauma, memory and hope. (Apr.)
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Review

"Zha beautifully combines the hard-earned expertise of an insider with the moral candor of an outsider. In exploring China’s defining struggles . . . [she] illuminate[s] the shadows in between, with empathy and courage."
—Evan Osnos, The New Yorker

"If you want to understand the astonishing developments in China’s contemporary cultural life . . . there could be no surer or more entertaining guide than Zha."
—K. Anthony Appiah, Princeton University

"An engaging, comprehensible cross-section of the personalities and cultural concerns rising with China’s ascent."
Kirkus

"No one who writes in English about contemporary China is more thoroughly bilingual and bicultural than Jianying Zha. She truly 'gets it.'"
—Perry Link, author of Evening Chats in Beijing

More About the Author

Jianying Zha is a writer, media critic, and China representative of the India China Institute at The New School. She is the author of two books in English, China Pop and Tide Players, and five books in Chinese: three collections of fiction and two nonfiction books, including The Eighties, an award-winning cultural retrospective of the 1980s in China. She has published widely in both Chinese and English for a variety of publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Dushu, and Wanxiang. She lives in Beijing and New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Snyder on July 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Just how bad is much of today's construction in China? So bad Chinese have their own term: "tofu dreg."

How bad is real estate "flipping"? They have their own term: "Stir fry building."

How much do thoughtful Chinese recognize the perils of trying to comment on these issues, reform their universities, and develop arts and literature in what is still a one-party state with growing economic inbalances? Very much.

And, in "Tide Players," Jianying Zha explains the details of all of that and more. With extensive time and academic study spent in the U.S. and U.K. as well as China, she has a good perspective, especially in analyzing the ambivalent feelings many Chinese have toward "sea turtles" that have spent extensive time abroad before returning home.

On issues of Chinese politics, she has a great deal of insight, beginning with the fact that her half-brother recently completed a nine-year prison term as a political dissident.

In an epilogue, she addresses questions of China's future, again from this same binational perspective.

That said, she's a bit more optimistic on China's future than I am. She largely ignores issues of pollution, resource consumption, and the rapid graying/demographic bell curve that lies in China's future. She also seems to skip over questions of just how much political reform will happen in China and how soon. And, speaking of pollution and resource consumption, it would have been nice to see a Chinese environmentalist among the "tide players."

The book is still a 5-star, though, for all the issues she covers before the epilogue.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful book by a brave and adventuresome woman from China who has lived in several U.S. cities, the UK and who has 'bounced' between them and China. This book is a collection of Zha's writings about the lives of several people in China who have been extremely successful despite impossibly poor beginnings.

Along the way, she describes some of the attitudes and beliefs of today's Chinese citizens struggling daily to make the transiton to modern Chinese life.

To me, this little book mirrors, in a way, a book that could have been written about a boisterous, often messy, complex young America and some of the people who made her great."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read many books on modern China, and this book is definitely among the best. The author gives candid yet nuanced accounts of several representative characters who have been shaped by and are also shaping China's recent development. The narrative goes much deeper than your average newspaper reporting to reveal the complex baggage and measured optimism of China and the Chinese people. A truly insightful book and highly recommend it!
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By Eileen Eastman on October 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was fascinating reading how the various people covered were propelled to start on their path to success: the methods they used and the areas chosen. In a way their success is an illustration of how hard work, determination, perseverance and luck all played their part in their success.
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