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China Underground Paperback – March 1, 2009
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From The New Yorker
Top Customer Reviews
Having lived in Kunming, China from 2002-2004, Mexico found that he really missed China. As he says, "it is hard to imagine a more exciting place than China." With a growing economy and more personal creative freedom, people at every level of Chinese society are changing and growing in ways nobody would have imagined 10 or 20 years ago. So he decided to return and write "about the crazy people I'd met in China and the even crazier people they'd introduced me to."
China Underground takes us from the mountains of Dali, where green marijuana grows freely and is smoked freely by just about everybody, to Linfen, the most polluted city in the world, where everyone wears masks to filter the obvious particles out of the air. He visits with prostitutes (known as chickens), with minority Uighur musicians, with filmmakers, writers, homosexuals (rabbits), and academics.
I must admit that I was at first shocked by the amount of drug use among the younger Chinese. Pot, black hashish, ketamine, cocaine... many are stoned all day every day.Read more ›
>> eloquent story telling, the clarity of his observations and his
>> proficiency in the subtleties of the Chinese language. I was struck by his
>> bravery to travel alone throughout China following leads, exploring the dicey
>> underbelly of an enormous, complex country and exposing his findings.
>> The writings show an avid interest in people's stories, a gift of
>> conversation, a true non-judgemental ( my spell checker is telling me that is not a word) compassion for how people deal with their lot in life.
>> The book was captivating because of the fascinating, real people interviewed and because of Zachary's youthful yet wise reactions to his surroundings. In addition to character descriptions and life situations he fleshed out his studies by writing about their living spaces, food choices, clothing fit and interestingly, brand names of their cigarettes as if that too reflected upon one's character. He sees China as a worldly, yet objective, young outsider, free to express what is often not sanctioned in China. His inclusion of historical contexts was extremely helpful.
His subjects range widely from a Uighur rock guitarist to a role playing gamers to Nigerian drug dealers. Mexico dives beneath the tourist and business worlds and shows a China that is fascinating. Some stories, such as the journalist who broke the blood bank HIV crisis, do not give us hope as he laments the dearth of investigative journalism. Others, like the chapter on the thriving punk rock scene in Wuhan, show us a lively culture that is thriving.
This is a fantastic read, and will introduce you to a China that does not get enough exposure.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 13 months ago by Dangerboots
I am moving to Shanghai soon and this gave me a different take on China than I have read anywhere else.Published 15 months ago by Lisanne Therese
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 E&E
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 Leib Gershon 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
if you even have the sligghtest intrest in china then you have probably read some boring travel books about the country and its historical atractions. Read morePublished on August 12, 2009 by John K. Johnson