Converse's Reviews > Big in China: My Unlikely Adventure in Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Reinventing Myself in Beijing

Big in China by Alan Paul
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's review
Apr 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: travel, non-fiction, music, memoir

Allen Paul, a journalist who worked for Guitar World and the basketball magazine Slam, got the opportunity to live in China for a little over 3 years when his journalist wife, Rebecca, applied for and got a posting in Bejing with her employer, the Wall Street Journal. They were in China during the 2008 Olympics. Allen, in the lingo of expats the "trailing spouse," found his time in China the opportunity to play music instead of just covering it and found himself in a mostly Chinese blues band. They started out doing covers but fairly quickly started playing their own compositions. After their first public performances, in which most of the audience were friends of the band members and were mostly westerners, they ended up playing at much larger venues to almost exclusively Chinese audiences.

Paul comes across as friendly guy benefiting from his willingness to go outside the expat compound he lived in and mix with ordinary Chinese. The other band members were interesting people and excellent musicians. Paul is good at describing what being a westerner in China is like, the odd "fake rich" (as he stays) lifestyle of expats on expense accounts, and his musical experiences.


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