Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land

Front Cover
Angilee Shah, Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
University of California Press, Sep 28, 2012 - Social Science - 244 pages
An artist paints landscapes of faraway places that she cannot identify in order to find her place in the global economy. A migrant worker sorts recyclables and thinks deeply about the soul of his country, while a Taoist mystic struggles to keep his traditions alive. An entrepreneur capitalizes on a growing car culture by trying to convince people not to buy cars. And a 90-year-old woman remembers how the oldest neighborhoods of her city used to be.

These are the exciting and saddening, humorous and confusing stories of utterly ordinary people who are living through China's extraordinary transformations. The immense variety in the lives of these Chinese characters dispels any lingering sense that China has a monolithic population or is just a place where dissidents fight Communist Party loyalists and laborers create goods for millionaires.

Chinese Characters is a collection, as Pankaj Mishra writes in his foreword, "to herald a new golden age of journalism about a ceaselessly fascinating country." Contributors include a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a Macarthur Fellow, the China correspondent to a major Indian newspaper, and scholars whose depth of understanding is matched only by the humanity with which they treat their subjects. Their stories together create a multi-faceted portrait of a country in motion and an introduction to some of the best writing on China today.

With contributions from: Alec Ash, James Carter, Leslie T. Chang, Xujun Eberlein, Harriet Evans, Anna Greenspan, Peter Hessler, Ian Johnson, Ananth Krishnan, Christina Larson, Michelle Dammon Loyalka, James Millward, Evan Osnos, Jeffrey Prescott, Megan Shank
 
 

Contents

Who are you this Time?
1
Doubters and Believers
13
Part Two Past and Present
53
Hustlers and Entrepreneurs
89
Rebels and Reformers
131
Teachers and Pupils
175
Afterword
217
Notes and Readings
223
List of Contributors
227
Credits
231
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of books such as China in the 21st Century, Global Shanghai, and China’s Brave New World, and the editor of the Journal of Asian Studies. Angilee Shah is a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Mother Jones, TimeOut Singapore, Global Voices, and AsiaMedia, among other publications.

Bibliographic information