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South China Morning Blues

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  65 ratings  ·  33 reviews
From Canton to Hong Kong, the booming megalopolis of the Pearl River Delta has endless stories to tell. Who finds themselves in rapidly changing 21st-century China? There's Marco, a businessman with a penchant for call girls; Danny, a culture-shocked young traveler; Sheila, a local club girl caught up in family politics; Terry, an alcoholic journalist; and Ting Ting, an ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 7th 2016 by Blacksmith Books (first published September 15th 2015)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Rebecca McNutt
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china, fiction
South China Morning Blues reminded me a lot of the 2005 film The Great New Wonderful in its pattern of detailed character vignettes, but its themes of coping with a rapid Chinese city gives it its own sort of extra originality. Exploring the intertwined lives of dreamers, artists and business moguls, this book never runs out of ways to not only surprise its readers, but also to generate unforgettable moments.

If these characters all have one thing in common, it's their plight of being surrounded
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book from start to finish. Ray Hecht does a fabulous job intertwining twelve characters in southern China and Hong Kong.

I was interested in reading the book because of the locales in which it takes place, but quickly found myself attached to the characters and their stories. I read the book on Kindle, so didn't have the luxury of flipping back to the list of characters and their corresponding Chinese zodiac symbol, but that didn't stop me from keeping the characters straight. I'm
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china
South China Morning Blue has been divided into three parts
- A place in south of china which is growing abruptly and localities are not able to cope up with the up-gradation of the place This part describes what foreigner does as soon as they landed into China. How they react to new culture how they get adjusted.

- Another place in south of china where is three largest city in China and more of like cosmos. Guangzhou is full of foreigners so this part describes how Whites aren't
Sarabi Eventide
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received and ARC copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Gist: Something about this book is bloody brilliant, but I can't exactly tell what it is. I liked it but I also hated it.

I actually rated the book at 3.5 based on my parameters, but Goodreads doesn't allow half stars so I rounded up. I'm issuing a tepid recommendation of South China Morning Blues.

To be honest, I was a bit confused by this book, and within 30 pages (the number of pages I commit to before
Nicki Chen
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
South China Morning Blues weaves together the stories of twelve young men and women living in three cities in southeastern China: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. The characters are Chinese and American, with one Canadian and one African. Still in their twenties, they’re struggling to find their way in a rapidly changing world.

The first character we meet, Marco, is a sleazy American businessman who likes to show off and pick up girls. Since he can’t be bothered to learn Chinese, his Chinese
Jun 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
3.5 stars... Hecht's cocksure novel deftly captures the anxious, narcissistic ESL Laowai scene against the backdrop of modern China's simultaneous economic rise and social decay... It was refreshing to read these character-driven narratives that uncannily expressed so much of my reality in China. They communicate many essential truths about the soul-testing experience here... Hecht's admiration of Irvine Welsh is evident in the book's structure and tone, yet it's tamer in spirit. The various ...more
Marie-France Leclerc
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was a bit confused at the beginning, not sure who was who. Once I got a clear understanding of each character I enjoyed following their story and especially when their stories crossed each other's. I also enjoyed discovering life in China, it felt real.
Arthur Meursault
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it
What is nice and what is nasty? When we wander through life we tend to consciously divide the people we meet into two camps: nice guys and assholes. Probably no other social classification is as clear cut once we move away from fixed biological terms like race, gender and age (though in this day and age even that is debatable). We all know who the nice guys and the assholes are: just look around the office you perhaps work in. Nice guys will be those stand-up chaps who share resources, ...more
Mary DeMay
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
There isn’t much of a story in South China Morning Blues. It is instead of the “slice of life” genre. It is a composite novel consisting of several interlocking narratives. The title is a play on a real Chinese news source, and like a newspaper, there is no real story to be read from connecting all the individual articles together, which misses the mark of a composite novel.

The sole point of interest in this novel is its setting- 21st century China. Each character of the novel represents one of
Bailey Hu
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Overall I found this book to be a decent read. As an expat currently living in Shenzhen, China (one of the 3 main settings of the book), the subject matter is naturally interesting to me, although I'm not sure the same can be said for those who aren't familiar with China. I imagine a lot of the things the various characters encounter might not be relatable to the average reader. There's the stereotypically over-sexed expat Marco, for instance, or the archetypal ESL teaching jobs that at least 3 ...more
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
South China Morning Blues is best described as a drama, with a touch of romance thrown in. Normally I don’t read this genre, but the subject does sound interesting and considering a couple of my stories take place in China, this book kind of doubles as research. There is a lot to like about how Hecht explores culture shock in this book.

The main focus of this book seems to be on southern Chinese culture and how different people see it differently. There’s a culture shocked ESL teacher and an
Will Albers
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china, fiction
OK, this book appeals to me because I'm an old China hand and I'm a sucker for reading about folks who make their lives here, both expats and natives. Ray Hecht's 12 character sketches manage to shine a light on nearly every single stereotype, predicament, conundrum, condition, contradiction, confusion and downright wackiness that foreigners are bound to come across while living and working in China.

Some of the character sketches are more developed than others (I think I would have liked to have
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was given an advanced copy of this book by Ray himself in exchange for an honest review. I was enthralled to read that this book would take place in three different areas of China; Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. When I had first began reading this book, the lives of each of the characters immediately drew me in, especially when it came to the romantic entanglements that were specifically highlighted. I did find it confusing at times to understand whom was speaking however, quickly learned ...more
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
This book about expats in China has primarily been an interesting read because it depicts many things that are a part of my life now (there were truly some uncanny parallels and coincidences) but I’m not sure how much appeal it would hold for someone who does not currently live in China. The 12 characters modeled on the Chinese zodiac are basically archetypes of the kind of people you can come across here. You have your ESL teachers, businessmen, Chinese women both progressive and traditional, a ...more
Travis Lee
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent portrayal of life in China, as people struggle with identity and ambition, an easy read even if you've never set foot in China, a familiar one if you have.

The book follows many people as their paths intersect and they live out their lives in 21st century China, beginning in Shenzhen, moving to Guangzhou and ending at a party at Lamma Island in Hong Kong.

I liked how the people changed. We meet Marco at the beginning, when he's a high-roller with delusions of grandeur who mocks his
John Autero
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
South China Morning Blues is a novel that focuses on life in modern day China. I’ve never been to China, so I can’t verify it’s accuracy but the story was interesting and the characters and situations were quite believable. Many of the situations involve the ‘steamy underbelly’ of Chinese culture that has blossomed in highly populated, business centers within the country over the last decade or so. The story focuses on twelve characters, made up of both Chinese and American men and women. The ...more
Pedro Barrento
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ray Hecht's latest book is a natural evolution of his previous work. Having already started as a very competent writer in his early pieces and in his blog, he keeps improving his style with each book. What does not change is the author's interests in life: drugs, parties and sex. Sex mainly, to be honest. Now there's nothing wrong with that, but in my opinion R.H. lives in a limbo that is commercially uncomfortable. He writes books about the sexual interactions between men and women. They aren't ...more
Lee Hardy
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed reading this book. Great characters, parts are like the book/film trainspotting but in China with teachers. Worth a read for something different.
Jocelyn Eikenburg
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
People have called China endlessly fascinating. But you could say the same about the expat scene here. In the seven-plus years that I’ve lived in this country, I’ve come across some real characters here – people I could have sworn were straight out of a novel.

I’m reminded of many of them after reading Ray Hecht’s new book South China Morning Blues, which features a motley cast of young expats and Chinese locals living across Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Through 12 distinct viewpoints, South
Jun 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for a review. I am not very good at writing myself so I don't feel very comfortable judging. Still, I'll play my part.

Overall I'd say that I was not much into the book at the start, but that it gets better as it goes. Now I am pleased I've read it.

It's true that at the beginning I could not really care about the lives of these young expats and their alcohol/drug/sex fuelled escapism. I am a long-time expat myself, I feel I have been
Oct 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Disclaimer: I received a free ebook from the author for reviewing.

This book portrays a wide array of perspectives on life in three cities in the South of China by telling snippets of the life of twelve different people. Their stories were interesting and felt real, and I certainly liked some characters more than others and hated the misogynistic views of some characters.

Overall I liked this book and would recommend checking it out, but there were some things that bothered me.

The chapters are
X. Ma
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Note, I was given a copy of this by the author in exchange for a review.

The book is well written and entertaining and a fairly accurate portrayal of China today. The characters are presented a little flat and crude in some parts, which I assume was done to be more raw, but makes them seem more shallow than necessary. It's more human relationship focused than pure romance, which I liked, but sometimes it jumped around quite a bit and was slightly choppy. The chapters are named after
Joseph Bleazard
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ray Hecht writes in incredible detail about the Pearl River Delta of China. This is basically Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan and Zhuhai. He really captures what makes it different from the North or Hong Kong. He also shows the new kinds of lives being lived by expats and Chinese in these cities, away from the traditional patterns and stereotypes or ill informed news stories. You can see a great deal of personal experience in Ray's work, and a real attempt at empathy with a vast range of ...more
Tim Gurung
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I started reading this book, it was a bit too hot for me and if I were to be honest here, as they say - it wasn't my cup of tea. When I was initially reading it, I was wearing a writer's hat, which wasn't right and once I changed to a reader's hat, then I started to like the book. This book not only depicts the way newcomers see things but also way they live in China and make the story as real as they were actually happening to them. The writing is simple, easy to understand by commons, and ...more
Victoria Zieger
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, giveaways-won
I thoroughly enjoyed South China Morning Blues by Ray Hecht. The stream of consciousness style was intriguing and captivating. So many stories were spun into one in this book in such a fluid and comprehensive manner that it is easy to get sucked in and hard to put down. As someone who has never visited China, I was able to feel like I was there due to the rich descriptions of each are that is explored. My only criticism is that I feel as though I'm some ways the book does not translate well into ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was sent this book for free, by the author in exchange for an honest review. I found the character development great. There are many interesting characters, all with their story to tell and you get to feel that you really know them. I know nothing about the area that Ray has written about and his descriptions are vivid - I'm sure if you have been to these places you will recognize them. The stories are not all happy, but they make you want to read on. I enjoyed the book, and I would recommend ...more
susan murray
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Won from goodreads
It's about life in China an easy read following the lives of quite a few people and the paths they take.
All the characters have a different story and you get to find out about them a few intertwine with the other characters.
Some belong there others are foreigners you get to learn about life in China for both parties the up and downs.

Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I got instantly hooked on this book! The characters are so familiar to any foreigner living in China, but at the same time so fascinating. It is a good description of modern life in big Chinese cities and of young people anywhere.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it liked it
as a resident of China I can tell the many inaccuracies presented in the book. the ending seemed over-harsh and the characters too alike. but overall this is an amazing book as it is one of the first to document this "laowai" lifestyle in China.
Jonathan Jasinski
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I write a review. The review is negative, because the book isn't very good. I use simple language, employ no metaphors or descriptive language. I share details that would bore in any context, never mind the worthwhileness of actually writing these details down and leaving them in a final copy. I go shopping, I buy this, I buy that. I would quickly bore should a friend share these trivial details, yet somehow Hecht feels they should be included in the book. I give two stars, because jesus christ ...more
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Ray Hecht was raised in America, from the Midwest to the West Coast, on a starchy diet of movies and comics and science fiction paperbacks. Mostly writing about such states as California and Ohio, and such provinces as Guangdong. Lived in Shenzhen, China since 2008, that Special Economic Zone & Hong Kong-bordering chaotic city of the future, occasionally partaking in freelance journalism for ...more