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What the Chinese Don't Eat

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  232 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Since June 2003 Xinran has been writing about China in her weekly column in the Guardian. She has covered a vast range of topics from food to sex education, and from the experiences of British mothers who have adopted Chinese daughters, to whether Chinese people do Christmas shopping or have swimming pools.

Each of her columns inspired letters and questions and more opportu
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 6th 2006 by Vintage
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Community Reviews

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Jun 17, 2009 Nicola rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, race
What the Chinese Don’t Eat is a collection of columns that Xinran, a Chinese woman living in England, wrote for the Guardian. In it, she reveals fascinating cultural differences between China and England. However, the book is most poignant and interesting when she delves into how moving to the Western world, while China remains in a state of extreme flux, has fragmented her own cultural history. On visits home, she finds that (good and bad) traditions that she grew up with are rapidly being erod ...more
Sep 08, 2014 Djkbhbhb rated it did not like it

I really think that the cover of this book is really terrible.How to describe it ?OH MY GOD!!! When I looked this cover,I don’t want to read this book any more.Then let’s talk about the name of this book:WHAT THE CHINESE DON’T EAT.I don’t know why the writer create that name.It is not interesting and it may be boring for the most teenagers.
Kawtar Morchid
Jul 09, 2016 Kawtar Morchid rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, 2016
What a pleasure to read Xinran again! These articles were like sweets to me. No wonder why she is one of the most respected radio hosts in China. I can tell from the way she writes that she is an amazing host. She definitely writes the way she talks. Love me some Xinran forever and always.
Deborah J.
Jun 24, 2014 Deborah J. rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book the very day I returned from a (jazz) tour of China. I had read her 'China Witness: Voices from a Silent Generation ' before leaving. It's very insightful and even though 'What the Chinese Don't Eat' is from 2006, it helped me get a better understanding about the Chinese culture.
Xinran seems to span both the Chinese and the Western culture, so anything she explains about China is from an 'insider' with 'Western eyes'. Her opinions and perspectives can be trusted becau
Dec 07, 2015 Abigail01pd2019 rated it liked it
In this novel, 'What the Chinese Don't Eat', Xinran examines the changes that China has undergone and reevaluates her own perceptions of Chinese culture. She shows the differences between China and Britain, as well as her reactions towards the latter when she first immigrated. Contrary to what the title suggests, she actually does not talk much about food, but rather unpractised Chinese traditions. As many people say, 90% of culture is hidden, and Xinran reveals the uglier side of China that hid ...more
Nelson Lourenço
Aug 21, 2012 Nelson Lourenço rated it it was amazing
Um livro que aconselho, já li todos os livros desta magnifíca escritora e não para de me surpreender!!!


"It is easier to clean up the leaves than the roots".

"Chinese Traditional view: "there are three sorts of unfilial behaviour, of which the worst is to have no heirs".

"Life is hard enough already, if you don't iron out your own frown lines, nobody else will do it for you."

"No matter how her life turns out, my love will live in her blood and my voice in her heart".

"In the west, a kiss is
Apr 14, 2013 Morgan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eu já falei da autora, a chinesa Xinran, na resenha de outro livro viajante As boas mulheres da China. Ela era uma apresentadora de rádio que resolveu dar voz aquelas que não tinham voz para expressar seus sentimentos, dividir suas dores e espalhar suas opiniões.
Ela teve que praticamente fugir para a Inglaterra para publicar seu livro e para que as histórias destas mulheres pudessem ganhar o mundo. Assim ela vai viver em um mundo completamente novo e desconhecido pra ela, com costumes malucos e
Feb 27, 2013 Helmut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
Made in China

Wieder einmal ein Buch, das offensichtlich keiner im Verlag gelesen hat; anders kann man sich den zum Inhalt überhaupt nicht passenden Titel und Klappentext nicht erklären. Wer den Klappentext liest, denkt, er hat ein weiteres dieser flachen Klischeebücher vor sich, in dem sich über kulturelle Unterschiede lustig gemacht wird. Weit gefehlt.

Die gesammelten Kolumnen der Journalistin Xinran aus dem "Guardian" lesen sich stellenweise komisch, mal melancholisch, mal traurig, mal alles z
Feb 18, 2013 Yennie rated it really liked it
I found this in Hong Kong and picked it up because it was the only book printed in English, written by a Chinese writer, that wasn't published in America. It's an informative, sometimes very thoughtful collection of Xinran's articles for The Guardian. My biggest issue with it is that she often writes on topics too big to be covered adequately in her column, ending some articles just as she is beginning. These truncated stories can be highly dissatisfying, and I think she does a disservice to the ...more
Kathy Chung
Mar 03, 2016 Kathy Chung rated it liked it
this book seems to be a compilation of her column. Based on the title, i would have thought that this book is about food and the eating habit of Chinese in China and overseas. I felt a bit let down when it is not.

i like the bit and pieces that of her life as written in the column . However, i find it hard to concentrate as the topic varies a lot. .

for me, i felt it would be better if the stories are segregated based on topics instead if dates they are written .
Helen Yee
Mar 21, 2016 Helen Yee rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
There are some cultural insights here but as a whole I thought it read a little dated, but maybe that's because I struggled to identify with the generation gap here. I felt like I was looking for more, maybe because I'm an Australian born Chinese who already has a broad sense of what it means to be Asian but I wanted more of a succinct answer on what it means to be a Chinese.
Sep 11, 2015 Cheri rated it it was ok
A very disappointing book. I realize it is a collection of newspaper columns, but there is no overarching theme that emerges (except the obvious: China is different from the west), and no attempt at explanation. There should have been some editing to make Xinran's non-native English flow better, to provide a clearer focus to each piece, and to remove the overly trite statements.
Mar 10, 2016 AN rated it liked it
This book is pretty nice, however, not as arousing as her other books. Suitable for reading while you're traveling, as each small story is written only in a few pages. I started reading this book on a plane and finished it on a tram.
Andrew Taylor
Sep 24, 2016 Andrew Taylor rated it liked it
Not a novel, but a collection of half baked articles written for the Guardian, some of them interesting, some other very lame.
Nowhere as good as The Good Women Of China but still of interest to foreigners living in China.
Aug 12, 2014 Melanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: cross-reading
Sometimes I dislike talking about good books because, well, there isn't really much to talk about them. So, what can I say about this book, really? I mean, other than it is a very informative book and easy to read? Maybe that I was expecting it to be longer and maybe even more intense, but considering that it is pretty much a collection of columns of The Guardian, I think it has a pretty good size. It talks somewhat briefly about the big differences between the Chinese and the Western culture. I ...more
Lisa, M.
Jul 10, 2016 Lisa, M. rated it liked it
Probably because I read it in the wrong order (did acquire "Message from Unknown Chinese Mothers" first) this one feels so... bland. Enjoyable nonetheless.
Jan 08, 2013 Penny rated it liked it
This is a collection of stories many about women of China written by a woman of Chinese descent who used to have a radio program in China and now lives in the UK and writes for The Guardian. They each shed some light on different aspects of Chinese culture and are interesting, baffling, genuine. I read Sky Burial by Xinran
which I would most definitely recommend. That is a very touching story about a woman who goes to Tibet from Shanghai, I think, during the Cultural Rev to look for her new husb
Aug 28, 2008 Nick rated it it was amazing
Xinran, as I've noted before, is one of the world's more precious resources. She writes with simplicity and profundity about the experience of being a woman in China. This book is a collection of her articles for the British newspaper, the Observer, and it's a keeper, because it shows a more personal side to her writing than her other books. You also get insights into Chinese ways of thought from her writing that you can't get anywhere else. This is must reading for anyone interested in women's ...more
Maria (Ri)
I finished this one a couple weeks ago, but forgot to journal! I enjoyed the style of the short essays. I find reading about China to be fascinating on so many levels. I use Traditional Chinese Medicine in my naturopathic medical practice so getting more insight into daily life as opposed to just theory is great. The Chinese culture seems so very different from my own. Reading about Xinran's perspective gives me a greater appreciation for how wide the continuum of human experience is!
Aug 02, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it
another glimpse into the mind of a transplanted Chinese woman doing her best to understand British culture and stay true to her roots in China. Last chapter was from 2005 so even just 6 years ago seems like an eternity. So much has happened, changes that leave even those who grew up in China a little befuddled when they return to visit.

An interesting and heartwarming journey.
Nov 22, 2012 Sue rated it it was amazing
Articles reprinted from her Guardian column. Each one about 3 pages in length - sharp and to the point. Did I learn a lot about China and the Chinese! She comes across as a lovely, lovely lady - so full of care and concern for her fellow humans.
Mar 17, 2011 Lindi rated it it was ok
The book is a collection of Xinran's columns written for the Guardian. I didn't find it to be insightful. Due to the nature of the book there was a lack of flow or continuity. Not recommended.
Nov 07, 2008 Alisong rated it liked it
Lots of duplicate info from her good women of China book but still good
Apr 19, 2011 Libby rated it really liked it
Not as strong as Miss Chopsticks, but really good!
Feb 02, 2016 Hannah rated it really liked it
Shelves: ayearathon
#AYearathon 2016 April
Dec 22, 2012 Carolin rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I learned things
John Watson
John Watson marked it as to-read
Sep 28, 2016
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Sep 25, 2016
BookDB marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2016
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Xue Xinran, who usually writes as simply "Xinran", was a radio broadcaster in China before moving to Great Britain and beginning to publish books. She currently writes as a columnist.
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