Nam's Reviews > Red Dust

Red Dust by Ma Jian
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's review
Nov 18, 08

bookshelves: just-read
Recommended for: anyone wanting to learn about China
Read in October, 2008, read count: 1

I read this book thinking it would be great inspiration for my own trip to India.
It was.
It made me look forward to seeing other cultures and testing myself and my beliefs, patience and self defined limits.
It also was a great look into not only China simply as another culture but also Communist China as a political and social experience. Ma Jian's description of his travels points to the many similarities but also differences that existed/exist within China. It is not one homogeneous culture, region or people(s) yet at the same time the political social force that is the government serves to unite the people through a shared sense of limits, frustration and restraints. Of course not everyone was/is unhappy with their lot but especially in the case of his radical political and artist friends/companions one sees the effects of living in such an environment. However, even more interestingly what is apparent is that even as early as the late 1980s when he was traveling the changes then being undertaken with regards to opening up the economy to a more capitalist mentality were already having a profound effect on China in general. This is best illustrated by the ways in which many in his group of friends begin to care more about their economic prospects than any artistic or political concerns.
His descriptions of days wandering down empty highways, through mountain passes and rice paddies illuminates a seldomly described China..

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