Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China
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Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  2,397 ratings  ·  236 reviews
Guy Delisle's work for a French animation studio requires him to oversee production at various Asian studios on the grim frontiers of free trade. His employer puts him up for months at a time in 'cold and soulless' hotel rooms where he suffers the usual deprivations of a man very far from home. After Pyongyang, his book about the strange society that is North Korea, Delisl...more
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published October 5th 2006 by Jonathan Cape (first published 2000)
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Jeff
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
Veeral
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...more
Diane
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...more
Frank Stein

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...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...more
Artur Coelho
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
Hollowspine
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...more
Mkeirsbi
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
Evan
Mar 15, 2013 Evan rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Philip
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...more
Jennifer
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
Joe
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...more
Faa
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...more
Sri
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...more
Ericbkatz
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
Kerry
I would give this book 3 1/2 stars if I could. I really liked the author's perspective on China. I especially enjoyed the biking incidents. He really captures what it is like to be out of place and his observations well. I really enjoyed it. I am just discovering the beauty of picture books for adults too I guess. It makes me want to learn more about everyday life in China.
Tate Ryan
Feb 08, 2014 Tate Ryan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in China
Shelves: graphic-novels
The random musings of an artist expat turned out to be interesting enough for me to enjoy some of it's moments. It helps that I sympathise with the feelings shared as I have spent plenty of time in China and with Chinese. I took to the artwork more and more as the book progressed. However after reading a number of 'life reflection' stories by comic artists that generally are about trying to deal with the daily grind of life and boredom. I must say that I have had enough of these and think the ge...more
Andrés Jiménez cuenca
Muy divertido, es la historia de un dibujante que va a la ciudad de Shenzhen (China) donde se encuentra con situaciones de lo más raras y embarazosas con la sociedad china y sin poder hablar chino.
Hans
Guy Delisle tells the story of three lonely months working in China. Like his volume about his time working in North Korea, it is not really about the culture where he is visiting, but about the experience of living through constant cultural miscues and misperceptions (less directed in China than in North Korea)…and living through days of silence when you cannot speak the language. "If I draw all these anecdotes one day, it will probably look like I had a great time here. Taken out of context, e...more
Sherry
I've never read a comic strip book, but I could not put it down. It was funny and so interesting.
Andreah
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...more
Emkoshka
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
Mattkelly
Pretty cool graphic novel about Delisle's time spent managing a crew of slave cartoonists in Shenzhen, China. Delisle is a fish out of water who can't speak the language and knows little about Chinese culture. So his trip becomes depressing and repetitive. It seems like the picture he paints of China of through this lens of boredom -- he can't really experience anything interesting because he can barely figure out how to get on a train. But he still relates some unique experiences, and reminds m...more
Thomas Andrikus
Though this graphic novel still carries Guy Delisle's unique style, there isn't much insight into the "soul" of the city/country as he has portrayed in his other works such as Pyongyang or Jerusalem. Perhaps it is due to the fact that Delisle finds Shenzhen to be too "remote" and un-metropolitan, unlike Beijing or Shanghai. The fact that there are so few foreigners he came into contact with also contributed to his lack of connection to Shenzhen.

(There are also very few foreigners in Pyongyang, b...more
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...more
Eva
Another enjoyable Delisle book. A quirky (yet somehow not off-putting?) account of the author's time in Shenzen reads more as the personal diary of a lonely, isolated man - reflected in some thoughtful and wonderful single-panel pages without words giving the reader a chance to pause and contemplate and ultimately share in that feeling of isolation.

The idea behind the book, expounding cultural differences through humourous anecdotes, may be a well-trodden format, but Delisle does this well. His...more
Ninja Neko
"Lost in translation"
I picked up the pile of Delisle's work from my library - I had been searching for a copy of Pyongyang for weeks so when it finally emerged I took everything I could get my hands on... without noticing Shenzhen was in French. I gave it a try anyway and I'm happy to discover that a lot of the 11 years of French lessons has stuck with me after all. And actually I think it contributed to the whole "lost in translation" atmosphere this book has. Delisle trying to work out what th...more
Dave Riley
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...more
joao
An odd book in which the author constantly thinks of his life as a movie, whereas the reader, myself, thinks of his life as a Drawn and Quarterly narrative. To call a set of routines a travelogue is perhaps an exaggeration. Here and there the author will move to nearby cities or visit someone, but most events on his calendar are chance encounters. The whole trip was over in three months, so you can condescend to the estrangement he feels all along, and yet you got to ask why this kind of tale st...more
Guillaume Levasseur
Chronique de l'exil ou de l'isolement de l'étranger, réçit autobiographique et métaphorique racontant l'étrange purgatoire d'un bédéiste en Chine, Shenzen détonne par son ton ou s'entrmêlent la lassitude de l'auteur et son sens de l'observation incisif et impitoyable.

Dès le départ Guy Delisle présente son voyage comme une espèce d'ascèce passée dans une ville pas tout à fait cosmopolite ni tout à fait assez pittoresque pour être inspirante. C'est là pour moi, le génie du propos, ou de la trame...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
More about Guy Delisle...
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea Burma Chronicles Chroniques de Jérusalem A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting Albert and the Others

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