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Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,755 Ratings  ·  315 Reviews
Shenzhen is entertainingly compact with Guy Delisle's observations of life in urban southern China, sealed off from the rest of the country by electric fences and armed guards. With a dry wit and a clean line, Delisle makes the most of his time spent in Asia overseeing outsourced production for a French animation company. He brings to life the quick pace of Shenzhen's crow ...more
Paperback, 152 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Pramod Nair
In ‘Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China’, by the Canadian author, illustrator and animator Guy Delisle we meet the perspectives of an outsider who is trying to understand the customs and life of a society – limited to the short time he spends there and limited to the small area which he is allowed to visit - which is totally alien to him. On a three-month visit to Shenzhen, in People’s Republic of China, as a coordinator between a Belgian animation company and a Chinese studio, Guy Delisle narrate ...more
Nov 11, 2011 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shenzhen is very comparable (in terms of the artwork) to Guy Delisle's earlier volume Pyongyang. As always, his black-and-white, cartoony charcoal drawings are both entertaining and illuminating, and a real joy to look at. [return][return]That said, Shenzhen as a narrative is considerably less interesting than the previous volume on North Korea, largely because Delisle fails to evoke deeply felt reactions to this foreign environment. Perhaps this is only a consequence of the fact that the city o ...more
This was a second travelogue written by Guy Delisle after Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. The plot is almost identical to Pyongyang. Guy Delisle goes to Shenzhen, China to work on an animation project for 3 months. But unlike Pyongyang, Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China is totally devoid of any political snippets. The only thing Delisle writes in his travelogue is about the cultural shock experienced by him on his 3 months long stay in China.

I would rather recommend reading Burma Chronicle
This is another illuminating travelogue from Guy Delisle, who was sent to Shenzhen in 1997 to work on an animated TV show. (As he explained in his book Pyongyang, a lot of animation work was being done in Asia.) Guy spent several months in the southeastern city, during which he felt lonely and isolated. He described Shenzhen as a modern city that is near Hong Kong, but it had few bilingual Chinese, and there wasn't a university or cafe for him to meet young people interested in the West.

Guy's d
Frank Stein
Nov 16, 2009 Frank Stein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book is mainly a series of anecdotes and observations about living in Shenzhen. There's not much of an overarching plot, but the author admits that and luckily his anecdotes and observations are genuinely funny and certainly ring true for anyone who has lived in China. He's able to convey the loneliness, the constant misunderstandings, and the constant faltering attempts by the Chinese to communicate with the weiguoren (foreigners).

I like the story of the man who was upset because he belie
Mar 28, 2016 Ankita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Out of the three that I've read so far, I think I found Burma Chronicles the most enjoyable so far. Shenzhen is basically a rather depressing chronicle of Delisle's stay. It tells you nothing new but repeats certain observations over and over again. I would've liked to see him observe more 'eccentricities' of the culture from his POV. Mildly interesting, can be a start of sorts for someone who knows absolutely nothing about China. Would've given it a 2.5/5 but you know GR -.- An extra 0.5 for th ...more
Feb 26, 2016 Cristhian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Realmente disfruto los travelogues de Guy Delisle, uno aprende -quizá "aprender" no sea el verbo indicado... "descrubrir" sería mejor- distintas culturas y formas de vida. No es igual leer un cuaderno de viaje de alguien que va una semana a alguien que vive en cierta ciudad por meses incluso un año entero inter actuando con la vida normal en ella.

En esta ocasión viaja a Shenzhen, una ciudad relativamente cercana a Hong Kong y que a pesar de su cercanía con la isla más occidental de todo Asia, se
Jul 28, 2014 Hollowspine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novel
This is a very interesting travel memoir, of a Canadian (living in France) who spends time in Shenzhen working on an animation project. Like anyone who has spent time in a country where the spoken language is unfamiliar Delisle spends a lot of time communicating using hand signals, but that doesn't stop him from going out to explore.

I was impressed at how outgoing he was even in the stressful environment he was placed in, both the city itself, the lack of communication and his bizarre expectatio
Whereas Pyongyang had a theme and more or less of a plot, Shenzhen seems like a whole bunch of anecdotes strung together.

That said, I still liked it a lot.

I feel like Delisle wanted to come down harder on the Chinese, but couldn't really find any reason to. I felt like he wanted to be back in Pyongyang for this reason. (Like for instance when he thought there was a camera in the thermostat.)

Delisle sometimes comes across as a decent guy, but often he's portraying himself as a prick with no tact
Jan 15, 2015 Bigsna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I couldn't articulate it myself, this excerpt from a review by The Guardian's Michael Faber is exactly on point on both Pyongyang and Shenzhen -"Both books are arguably diminished by lack of respect for non-western mindsets and traditional values. At times, Delisle seems to believe that good coffee, hi-tech gadgets, acid jazz CDs and sexily dressed women are crucial to an evolved society, and that the communal responsibility celebrated by collectivist cultures is worthless. There's always ...more
Aug 23, 2011 Joe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This "Guy" is a schmucky schlup. Same old travelogue style but with a narrator who seems to go out of his way to not connect with the locals. I didn't like the drawings and I didn't like this guy as a person. Laughing about eating dogs and cats and people falling down/getting hurt is not my idea of comedy. It's all been done before and much better written/drawn and by more like-able creators.

PS: I just figured out this is the same guy who did the Burma Chronicles which I really liked. Seems lik
Ce premier effort de récits de voyage de Guy Delisle est pas mal moins intéressant que les suivants. Dur de blâmer l'auteur, par contre, parce qu'il semble que c'est le voyage lui-même qui était vraiment ennuyant! D'ailleurs, le sens d'ennui est très bien convié! Tant qu'à suivre des "aventures" qui n'en sont pas, j'aurais aimé plus de détails sur la bouffe (qui semblait être son intérêt principal dans le voyage) ou sur le travail d'animation (qui était mon intérêt principal à moi! j'ai même che ...more
Jeff Powers
In his first two travelogues Guy Delisle struggles with cultural norms and language barriers, but also the oppressive nature of dictatorship. For this volume he takes a drastically different approach. Shenzhen reads like a meditation on boredom. There isn't a bigger story to tell and instead the book is filled with Delisle's usual odd observations. But they serve a different purpose here. To enhance the reader's understanding of Guy's loneliness and boredom in a foreign place. Normally a story o ...more
Razvan Zamfirescu
Shenzhen: Amintiri din China este sumbra, sumbra si deprimanta.
Modul de a desenea a lui Delisle din acest volum e atat de intunecat incat, din start, iti dai seama ca desenatorul nu s-a simtit deloc in largul sau in aceasta tara.
Desi glumele sunt savuroase si este un mucalit constant, Guy Delisle recunoaste la un moment dat ca aceasta sedere in imensa tara comunista l-a secatuit de puteri si l-a deprimat.
Shenzhen-ul vazut de Delisle, si implicti de noi prin ochii sai, este un melanj ciudat de c
Michael Scott
I don't have much to say about Guy Delisle's Shenzhen. It's a travelogue set in China's special (artificial) economic zone, Shenzhen. Based on my own experience, I'd say it's also rather dated, depicting a 1997 society in a country that evolved in the past decade faster than any other country in world history.

Overall, I'd instead recommend reading Pyongyang for your dose of delisle-tful humor. (The latter is also rebellious with a cause, whereas Shenzhen falls rather flat.)

The graphical assortm
Dave Riley
Nov 24, 2013 Dave Riley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
I love the simple artwork Delisle uses in all his books. No more no less...just right.

But then his packaging is layered with astute anecdote and observations about his time --in this case -- spent in Shenzhen --so the story wafts over you, variously wry and considered. Always evocative.

The places he spends time in are always foreign and exotic. They are so because Guy Delisle seeks out and emphasises the cultural and social differences. That's his obsession -- his comic niche.

North Korea, Burma
Artur Coelho
Nov 29, 2011 Artur Coelho rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sobmrio e desolador é o resultado de uma estadia de Guy Delisle em Shenzhen como realizador encarregado de orientar estúdios de animação que trabalham sob contrato para canais televisivos europeus e que, como habitual, o autor transforma num curioso album de banda desenhada de viagem. A experiência não é gratificante. Isolamento num hotel, distanciamento e incompreensão, uma barreira linguística intransponível e uma sensação desolada de vida numa enorme metrópole descaracterizada, sem pontos de ...more
Mike Keirsbilck
I previously read Jerusalem, and it invited me to explore Delisle's other work. The first thing I could get my hands on was this Shenzhen. Narrower in scope and time (and novel volume) than Jerusalem (that accounts the complex Palestinian-Israelites struggle over the course of a year, combined with the astonishing and absurd customs that Delisle encountered), it does share a same modus operandi: as an outsider depicting a place and society that is that distant from your own point of view, you ca ...more
Sarà che forse le mie aspettative erano troppo alte, visto che di Delisle avevo sempre sentito parlare in termini non meno che entusiastici, ma a me questa graphic novel non ha detto molto.
Poca emozione, molto grigiore, il che sarà pure voluto e di certo contribuisce a dare l'idea dello straniamento e della solitudine di un occidentale che deve stare tre mesi in Cina, ma non mi ha più di tanto coinvolto. O meglio, mi ha fatto effetto, e non in senso positivo, l'atteggiamento distaccato con cui i
Jan 03, 2014 Emkoshka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-memoir, china, 2014
This memoir captured beautifully the dislocation of the foreigner in a country like China where the food, the customs, the language, the culture often seem so impenetrable, so absurd and yet so tantalising. Deslisle's observations and reflections are of the small things in life but they reveal so much: the bleak bareness of home life for working class Chinese, the eagerness of people to engage with the West whether through mangled English or consumer aspirations, the way food becomes a tool of c ...more
Mar 15, 2013 Evan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
a quick, entertaining read, and a fun alternative to more 'serious' books on urban development in Shenzhen and China in general. Reading this in 2013, 15 years since Delisle's visit, it's amazing how much has changed.... and how much has stayed the same. The author describes a dirty, foul-smelling, unsanitary city with no foreigners, no entertainment, armed guards along the SEZ border, two hours from 'civilization' in either direction (to Guangzhou or Hong Kong), anonymous, identical hotel rooms ...more
Shenzhen seems to be the most boring place on earth and Guy Delisle spent the least 3 interesting months of his life there and we get to experience it with him in excruciating detail.
Tom Tabasco
Mar 11, 2016 Tom Tabasco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A travelogue of a French animator in China in the comic form. A lighthearted comedy. Most of my 4 stars are mainly because of the inventiveness and the artistic quality of the drawings. There are many references to the way a professional animator tends to look at reality (btw, does that type of job still exist?), and some pages are a real pleasure to look at. Yes, he is artistic and he is kind of funny, but just like in Pyongyang, however, Delisle proves to be a shallow observer with a lazy and ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Andreah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic
I love this guy.
In a few short frames, he is able to capture complex feelings about a place. I enjoyed this book in particular because I have been to China and I can identify with how he feels.

Some of the situations in this book made me laugh. Others made me cry. Others left me with a sense of mysterious nostalgia.

I find Guy Delisle inspiring, funny, honest, ironic and respectful. It's hard to be all those things at once, but he is able to do it in a few short frames. Great storytelling, fast
Jun 14, 2013 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Goodreads holds the merit of having introduced me to graphic novels. I'm impressed with the quality and the ability to channel emotions of some of these drawings.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Since my father worked in China for months at the end of the 90s I have my own version of the country, brought to me through his tales and pictures. He had fun, he felt welcomed, he saw a world so different and sometimes so similar to the little italian village we're from. I understand that Delisle f
Oct 25, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Delisle spent 3 months in Shenzhen, a busy city near Hong Kong, and helped stave off his boredom by creating a book of his experience. However, he even acknowledges that a chronicle of boredom and loneliness doesn't make for a great book. Delisle doesn't speak Chinese and there are few foreigners or English speaking Chinese in Shenzhen, so he pretty much spends the whole book feeling horribly bored and isolated. There are some moments where he focuses on the strange paradoxes of modern China, wh ...more
A houseguest left the English version of SHENZHEN behind, so I read it again after reading it more than a decade ago in French. This D&Q edition is a good translation (Helge Dashcher), and I got more of the subtle humor reading it in English--Delisle can be quite dry. Like his other travelogues, SHENZHEN is an account of a period of time away from home, alone in a quite foreign place--on this occasion, Delisle was hired to oversee outsourced animation production in a dreary Chinese industria ...more
Feb 26, 2014 Faa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I dont expect much with Shenzen. I love Pyongyang and Jerussalem made me think; but Shenzen, is just Shenzen. A black and white definition of a new emerging city in People Republic of China, famous for those who try to build success, or to start life, or to start new, or to just work or whatever that they have in minds.

Guy Delisle depicted Shenzen as another foreign place he was not that comfortable with. I found humour in how he despised the routine in everyday life and difficulty in language
Lost in Translation. Pak Guy 'terdampar' di Shenzhen. Walaupun kota itu adalah kota pertama yang menjadi special economic zones di China tapi ternyata tak banyak orang yang bisa berbahasa asing di sana. Bahkan dengan penerjemahnya pun komunikasi kurang berjalan dengan baik. Tak banyak yang bisa dilakukan di Shenzhen, Pak Guy lebih memilih Canton (Guangzhou) untuk menikmati akhir minggu. Dan saat dia akhirnya ber-wiken ke Hongkong dia tak henti-henti tersenyum bahagia :).
Selalu masalah komunikasi
Aug 02, 2014 Ericbkatz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite of the three Guy DeLisle books that I've read. DeLisle spent several months in the special economic zone/city of Shenzhen on the east coast of China in the early 2000s and he has an eye for the changes that are happening at the time. I really liked this book because on every page it captures how when you are in another culture, you are able to witness bizarre and remarkable things every day: people crowded under a tree for shade, eating dog & snake, seeing a man shave with nail c ...more
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Born in Quebec, Canada, Guy Delisle studied animation at Sheridan College. Delisle has worked for numerous animation studios around the world, including CinéGroupe in Montreal.

Drawing from his experience at animation studios in China and North Korea, Delisle's graphic novels Shenzen and Pyongyang depict these two countries from a Westerner's perspective. A third graphic novel, Chroniques Birmanes,
More about Guy Delisle...

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“Because with time blocking out the bad, memory is always bound to be a bit naive and stupidly optimistic.” 15 likes
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