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The Drink and Dream Teahouse

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The Drink and Dream Teahouse is a stunning evocation of contemporary China: told through the tale of two lovers, Da Shan and Liu Bei, who try to find each other and a purpose in a rapidly changing society. A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year Winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and a Betty Trask Award, and banned in China.
Paperback, 344 pages
Published March 14th 2013 by Hill & Co (first published January 1st 2001)
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Average rating 3.33  · 
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 ·  230 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Edoardo Albert
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There's precious few authors who don't have a pile of failed novels sitting at the bottom of the cupboard or hidden on a hard drive. There's even fewer whose first completed novel was written when still young. Justin Hill manages both of these and he adds a third: writing convincingly and moving about the old while still a young man himself. To really make this debut novel stand out, Hill does all this in the context of turn of the millennium China: but not the China of newly minted millionaires ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this one! There are no happy endings here, so don't expect any. Justin Hill is a master of language. Clear images make the characters and setting come alive. ...more
Barbara Joan
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A warts and all picture of post Tian An Men China. I so wanted someone to have a happy ending, but maybe I'm just an old bourgeois softy. ...more
Anna Luna
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very interesting and i loved how the chinese ways were described.
Totally recommend.
The book deals with the change from old China to new China and the promises that were made to the people. However this is not a book about politics , this is about how politics affected the people of China. Set in 1995 following the disasterous 1989 demonsatations, you get a real sense of the lost hope and dreams of two generations. Closing factories, unemployment, prostitution, polution its not a book to lift your mood. Of all the books Ive ever read this surely contains the most unluckiest cha ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very different from what I thought it would be. I thought of it as a book of reminiscence but it had a much bitter tone than that.
The author does a good job of comparing life in China before and after communalism - and critically examines whether the aims of the movements have been achieved, and raises a critical question: Are things really better?
We see the world through the eyes of different characters - of people from different walks of life and different SES, and it helps us t
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this a fascinating story about a number of families in a small town in northern China where a factory has been closed down to make way for a hotel. Different generations struggle with the rapid changes in China's government and culture, remembering the early days Communism, the cultural revolution, the democracy movement of 1989 through the present day market economy and industrial development in western China. Though the writer is not Chinese, he spent many years there and has an excell ...more
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Learnt that you shouldn't judge people as you don't really know their full circumstances, and leant a little about China and its people and the class system. Deals with all aspects of Chinese culture, and the snobbery towards the peasant classes.

Felt I couldn't put this book down as it was so well written and descriptive and could empathise with the main characters and the daily grind of their lives.
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This is a pretty ambitious book written by a foreigner about China. I kinda like it even though it is not connecting at times. This is a story of people in a community adjusting to the changes that are happening in their surroundings. I like how the stories of each characters were interwoven and how the characterization was played out. One will easily breeze through it as it is just a short read. Recommended for those who wants to get a picture of China from a foreigner's perspective. ...more
Susan Chow-Dukhan
A story about the lives of several members of a community in the small town of Shaoyang, in China. The settings of the story and characters have a touch of realism, showing the familiarity that the author has with the Chinese culture. The glimpse into the lives of the characters lose the attention of the readers due to an overuse of metaphors, poetry, etc., that the author has written to make the story more exotic. An example of this is when one of the characters lit a gas stove in the early mor ...more
Jun 15, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'll never forgive myself for reading a one star book to its conclusion; I don't know why I didn't just put it down.

I didn't like the prose. Not at all. The rhythms reminded me of a 1960s first-grade primer, like "Dick and Jane". This alternated with overuse of literary devices such as metaphors and anthropomorphism. The characters were flat and I didn't care about any of them.
Tracey Jackson
I find myself in a perplexing situation about this book. I really enjoyed reading it, but at the same time found it unfulfilling. There is no real ending to the story and it is really just a snippet of the character lives. I am sure it is based on parts of real life in china. I really struggled with the brutality in parts. Police regulary beat and raped. All this is the 90's - I could n't beleive it. The story centres around the closure of the Space Rocket factory and how this affects the lives ...more
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I started this book with high hopes...six weeks later I have not even gotten half way through it! I did not enjoy it at all! It appears to cover unrequited love, suicide, work frustration name it...I could not get around the Chinese names and their traditions and perhaps my inability to identify with any of the characters is the reason for my disconnect! A better person then I might be fit to finish the book but I have now given up!! I usually take a book with me everywhere and finish it ...more
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Despite the author's experience in China, this is pretty light without much story and light on specific details of place. He relies too much on explicit sex, especially negative experiences with sex which are often cruel to women to be dramatic. The end, where the mother forced into prostitution to help her son, doesn't play true to form when she takes money to go start a business, abandoning the child. The most touching parts are the confessions by several characters about how brutal the social ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
I can't decide whether this book should have three or four stars. It is a slice of life in China, interesting but quite sad, which is probably why it took me a while to read it. Information about the characters was gradually released through the book, giving insight back to Tiananmen Square as well as the Cultural Revolution, and some of the confusion about what China today stands for. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't compelling reading. In fact, the only time I picked it up really eager to find out ...more
Mar 05, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the extremely unsatisfying ending of the book, I felt I was able to get a real glimpse of life in the countryside of modern China, with all its poverty and corruption, along with the turmoil carried over from the 1949 and 1989 Communist incidents in China.

I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone who is bothered by endings or violence against women. It's great for Chinese History enthusiasts, however.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Justin Hill writes a story based on the lives of Chinese townspeople who are enduring the closing of a steam engine factory that is the source of their economic suuvival. The story is an outstanding look back at the effects of the cultural revolution and the everyday existance of rural Chinese following the communist takeover. Good book to read for anyone interested in Asian society.
Shelly Singhal
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Anyone who has been outside of the big cities in China recognizes these characters immediately. I can't believe this was not written by a Chinese author. It is an incredible work filled with painfully accurate stories and the ending is as life, not fiction.

Great job. Well worth a read for anyone who has an interest in China.
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I waffled between 3 and 4 stars for this. Its well written and an interesting look at fictional characters living in modern day China, but it lacks resolution. It got a four because I enjoyed reading it anyway.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though this was written by a non-Chinese, it seemed very Chinese to me. Everything about it was believable, especially the bittersweet ending. I was actually hoping for a happier ending, but I suppose if it had been more like that I would have ultimately been disappointed. So, good job.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, 2014
I only have two words that express this book that I can think of: dull and flat. I've read a fair amount of literature based in China or actual accounts and this book doesn't even come close in capturing the spirit of China (good and bad) and especially not the characters. Glad I only paid 50p! ...more
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stopped half way. It's a book intended to tell the story of people in Mainland China. I like his writing but I just felt I was being dragged through each chapter. Maybe I'll carry on reading the rest next time. ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't finish it

I really wanted this to be wonderful, but I truthfully couldn't get very far. The writing was slow the lack of storyline didn't engage me one bit. Sadly, I'm not going to rate this very high. There was simply no story worth telling.
Apr 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ambitious. One of the best China fiction written by a foreigner.
Jun 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn't connect with any of the characters, this book just bored me. ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well crafted and beautifully descriptive. However, the ending is unsatisfying.
Debra Montgomery
Just a bit dull. I wasn't convinced it was an authentic take on modern Chinese society. ...more
Lois Binalla
Mar 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ugh, fiction, adult
It was interesting, at first all the characters were likable, but when it came to the middle part, some actions of the characters irritated me, especially Peach. gahhhhhhhh
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A difficult read. Historically interesting but depressing.
Nancy Pay
Not as expected after reviews

Local color & character development fair.

It was not a millennial story as expected.

Reviews were more positive than I experienced.
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Justin is an English novelist whose work has twice been nominated for the Man Booker Prize. He was born in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island in 1971 and was brought up in York. He was educated at St Peter's School, York, and was a member of St Cuthbert's Society, Durham University.

He worked for seven years as a volunteer with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) in rural China and Africa, before returni

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