Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present
From the acclaimed author of River Town comes a rare portrait, both intimate and epic, of twenty-first-century China as it opens its doors to the outside world.
A century ago, outsiders saw China as a place where nothing ever changes. Today the country has become one of the most dynamic regions on earth. That sense of time—the contrast between past and present, and the...more
I think when I started the book I was comparing it to “Eat, Pray, Love” because both are non-fiction works about living abroad. Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey around the world is a sort of outward ma ...more
This is a beautiful, surprising, and stunningly good book -- much richer than one could imagine. For anyone interested in the context and texture of modern China, this is a must read.
One day, around 10 years ago, I met this fellow out of our "Media and communication" department and I told him that he should have tried doing some internship in order to get the 5 credits he missed before getting his degree.
I remember how he originally wanted to take part to some sort of seminar on semiotics or something and I insisted that it was a waste of time. ...more
If you overlook this clipped-together feel, the book is very informative, maybe even too detailed (the author obviously had tonnes of notes to work with). It gives you insights into bits and pieces of China's ancient histor ...more
I’ve always thought of China as a social monolith but that’s clearly not the case and it was interesting to me to know why I was so wr ...more
Hessler went to China in 1996 as a Peace Corps volunteer to teach English. And he stayed, becoming a newspaper reporter, then magazine writer, and now a non-fiction author. Hessler recently published the introductory and concluding articles in the National Geographic Special Editi ...more
Sitting at dinner with good friends a few months ago, we delved into what books we’d been reading. Always trust a Librarian: Deb enthused about Oracle Bones–her comments a tad vague perhaps: “it’s about oracle bones and yet about modern China”. That seemed a little oxymoronic (and intriguing) to me. Having spent many years studying both Ancient an Modern Chinese, I have always been curious about the Middle Kingdom and the possibility of a trip next summer underscored my interest in dipping b ...more
On the other hand, Hessler’s attempts to contextualize these stories within Chinese history fall flat and detract from the stories themselves. His depiction of this context is too general, and I felt it conveyed stereotypes and verged on orientalism - this is particularly apparent in passages where he uses ...more
I bought this book during my first trip to China.
One sentence convinced me to buy it, and it plainly described the landscapes I witnessed through the window of the Hong Kong- Beijing train: "a peasant, a field, a road, a village".
Add "appartment complexes" to that, and that was it: the author saw the China I saw, and offered his interpretation. Exactly what I needed during this trip of discovery!
How wrong I was ...more
All that being said, I'm uncomfortable with the shades of white privilege I see throughout. Emily says it best:
"I always enjoy talking with you, you are the one who knows my everything... But every time you went back to Beijing (after reporting in Shenzhen), I felt the pa ...more