Oracle Bones - A Journey Between China and the West

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 January, 2007, 12:00am

Oracle Bones - A Journey Between China and the West

by Peter Hessler

John Murray, HK$144

As Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker - his Chinese credentials say 'New York person' magazine - Peter Hessler doesn't write the largely imaginary 'big picture' story of China but focuses on making sense of the here and now. Oracle Bones - A Journey Between China and the West leaves the reader closer to understanding China, and more confused. Being able to hold simultaneous though contradictory viewpoints is the secret to understanding China - ideological communism and pragmatic capitalism, hating America while craving its respect. Hessler's first book, River Town, about his experiences teaching English at a teacher-training college in Sichuan Province, revealed an eye for the incongruous and a deadpan style that conveys much without seeming to do so. In Oracle Bones, he follows the lives of several of his River Town students, recounts the adventures of a minority Uygur whose mastery of bureaucratic rules and officialdom lands him a US visa, and uses the shards of ancient writing, 'oracle bones', to recall China's past that is both forgotten and remembered.



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