From Publishers Weekly
Evans reprises the light, kooky formula she adopted with her debut travelogue (It's Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels
) in this account of her solo trip across China. Armed with Wet Wipes, a smattering of Mandarin and tips from friends in Beijing, she travels by bus, train and even a mule from Beijing to the polluted Mongolian city of Datong before zigzagging south to Shanghai, then on to Tibet and ending in Hong Kong. Attracting attention along the way as a waiguoren
, or foreigner, she marvels at the "alluringly foreign... but also... hellishly frustrating" country while vigilantly rubbing her hands with antibacterial lotion, a habit that doesn't prevent a nasty cold. In restaurants, she orders by pointing to others' meals; in squalid public restrooms, she holds her breath. She learns a little kung fu and calligraphy, eats stewed dog and drinks yak-butter tea. Though Evans beefs up the story with historical nuggets on the Mao regime and more, her jaunty style often verges on the cartoonish, as with her impressions of unintelligible Mandarin: "gobbledy gook." Evans's sophomore effort will make an entertaining companion for armchair travelers who enjoy women's magazine–style travel writing. (Sept.)
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Evans' third travel book finds the intrepid author making her way across China by any means possible: plane, train, bus, boat, mule. Alternately funny and informative, the book focuses primarily on the people and places Evans encountered along the way, but you can't write a book about a nation as old as China without dipping into its history from time to time--exploring, for example, the Yungang Grottoes near the coal city of Datong, where there are 51,000 Buddhist carvings etched into the face of a cliff; or taking a boat trip up China's longest river, the Yangtze, where a controversial damming project has created quite the stir. Evans is a hands-on kind of travel writer. She likes to try new things and hang out with new people, and she writes travel lit at ground level: noisy, colorful, and entirely delightful. Comparisons to Bryson, Cahill, and Theroux, while obvious, would not be unwarranted. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved