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Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  6,409 ratings  ·  528 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
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published October 5th 2006 by Jonathan Cape (first published April 2000)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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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
Michael Finocchiaro
This is another wonderful account by Guy Delisle of working in a bizarre and off-the-beaten path in his animation job. Having been to Shenzhen, I can say that to the extent that I visited that polluted city, I can say that it is pretty accurate. His keen sense of observation and his sense of humor as well as his great and original artwork are a pleasure to read. As with his other books, this one is excellent!
Konstantin
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
If this man could just get rid of his casual sexism and racism, I'd enjoy his works much, much more than I already do. This is the third work of his that I've read, and while I obviously do like his style and getting back to it, the casual discriminatory attitudes underneath simply make my blood boil.
Louise
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is much tighter than either Delisle's Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea or Burma Chronicles. Perhaps because it is shorter there is no filler.

Guy Delisle is not happy in China. He is not cramped by minders and translators as he was in North Korea, but he is still bored in his time off. He yearns for someone who can speak his language. He has access to translators, but their proficiencies are low.

His best vignettes are about bicycle riding in packs with other aggressive riders, about
...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
Bigsna
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Farhana
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-books
Actually 3.5

This is the third travelogue I am reading from Delisle. I have been already a fan of his work. After reading his Pyongyang and Burma Chronicles , I have been intently looking for his other work. They are hardly available here. :( But today has been a lucky day. I found some of the graphic novels from my cherished want-to-read list. :D It must be a blessing O:)

On my way from work to home, I was pondering over Delisle's work. They are not mere travel stories because Delisle is not s
...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
Joe
Aug 23, 2011 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
...more
Sarah
May 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
I definitely found this relatable in some aspects, but I have to agree when the author himself says that it "doesn't seem like the kind of trip anyone would want to read about."

Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China is a graphic novel diary of the time Guy Delisle spent working in Shenzhen in 1997. I lived in China on and off for 4 years in total, and spent 10 months living and working in Shenzhen myself, so I was interested to see how his experiences in the city differed given that he lived there 20
...more
DoctorM
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Guy Delisle is a Canadian animator-cartoonist who's based in Paris and who does very quiet, lovely travelogues--- often with a hidden bite. His "Pyongyang" and "Burma" are heartfelt and powerful. "Shenzhen" is his account of a long job assignment in Shenzhen, the Chinese city just north of the Hong Kong "special zone". Delisle makes no pretense to a "deep understanding" or special knowledge. He's in Shenzhen to work on animation projects, and knows almost nothing about China. But what he does is ...more
Bárbara Széchy
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I read Delisle's Pyongyang travel-log some time ago and loved learning about his time in North Korea. I was expecting pretty much the same thing with Shenzhen, and, in a way, I did get it. The art style was the same, as was the way of telling his experiences. But I felt like he didn't really do much of anything in China other than work. He did visit Canton and Hong Kong, but that's pretty much it. So Shenzhen wasn't that interesting - much of the anecdotes shared felt a bit forced, like Delisle ...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
Frank Stein
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it

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
Ankita
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Ash
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Not as funny or interesting as his other books were but still it was good as I had never read any book about China before. Least interesting of his travel memoirs.
Hollowspine
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Mike Keirsbilck
Mar 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: r-52-books
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
Martin
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, travel
Re-read this today, about 4 years after my first read-through, and it's still just as interesting. I like to read about places I may not have the chance to visit (or may not even want to visit!), and Delisle's account of his trip to Shenzhen went a long way to further my understanding and knowledge of the culture 'over there'. At times hilarious, never dull or pretentious, this is one book I recommend* to people who want to learn about what's 'out there' but who would not necessarily travel ther ...more
Mark
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 industrial ci ...more
Philip
Oct 31, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Tom LA
Jul 12, 2015 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
Ana
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: margarida
2,5 stars, rounded to 3. I can understand that spending 3 months in Shenzhen in the late 1990ies was probably no piece of cake, but I found the tone of this memoir too whining. I couldn't help thinking that if he had gone to China with a different mindset, the author would have been able to enjoy himself a lot more. There are several interesting and funny episodes, but the narration is too self-pitying and I also prefer cleaner lined drawings (wow, I'd better watch out, I seem to have picked Del ...more
Greeshma
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Guy Delisle. He sums up his travel to Shenzhen best: Taken out of context, even boredom can probably sublimate itself and seem entertaining.
He has to be one of my favorite travel writers in the comic form. There's a lightheartedness to his charcoal-y drawings. And his keen (animator's) eye has these observations which is a rather good glimpse into alien customs and cultures. It's intimate in its detailing in a strange way thus. There's the obvious white man's exotic perception of the eas
...more
Shaun
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Another brilliantly written and drawn graphic novel travelogue by Guy Delisle detailing his three (3) month stay in Szechwan, China in the late 1990’s. Here Delisle was not married and went to work with a French-Chinese consortium animating cartoons for French audiences. The cost to do the “in between” animation work was far cheaper in the Far East Pacific Rim nations. The city-state of Szechwan comes across exceptionally dirty, but well-managed given it is one of the most populace regions on th ...more
Rusalka
I was super excited to head back to see Guy Delisle's experiences working in another country, trying to navigate strange cultures, language gaps, and repressive regimes.

Unfortunately, this one fell a little flat. I have now discovered this was his first of this style of graphic novels. The whole book felt a bit disjointed. And in some parts, a little mean spirited. Where as Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea just flowed and felt like you were taken along by a slightly bemused narrator.

Now, ma
...more
Simon Yoong
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Man, what a good read. He takes the mundanity and boredom and weaves an interesting tale.
Mallika Saharia
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Super hilarious. A nice peak into life in China as viewed by an outsider
Luci Limón
It's always enlightening to read Guy Delisle's travel books, especially because they reflect such a clash of cultures in a very realistic and sensible way. He doesn't try to lecture or impress the reader, but rather imprint a memory that he wants to share. In this case, Shenzhen seems to be a detached oriental city, not that far from Hong Kong but completely sunken in it's own customs. A place where foreigners feel exactly like that, so no wonder the author felt distressed by the idea of having ...more
Julie Rylie
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphics
Delisle is a great story teller and that's pretty much it.

As a person that loves to travel and discover other cultures, he kinda makes it easy for me to imagine myself in China (or not, cause I would hate to go to those crowded cities that smell like piss) and all those curiosities he talked about... ooohhhh.
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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

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