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China Underground Paperback – March 1, 2009
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From Publishers Weekly
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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From The New Yorker
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.