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Introducing "Unsavory Elements" - an anthology by China expat writers  
Unsavory Elements is an anthology of many fascinating short stories by various expat writers. Since its editor Tom Carter emailed a copy to me for review, I've read every vignette of it and truly enjoyed my vicarious journeys in China with those authors. One best thing about this book is that it covers so many totally different perspectives and aspects that you will keep experiencing something new and exciting as you keep reading it. Another is nothing but truth has been told about locals and expats in China, be it pretty or ugly - it's the naked truth (that's why I generally prefer documentaries to fictions. :). Finally, I really appreciate the authors' keen insights into contemporary China's reality and issues. Don't take my word for it - let me simply quote a few of my favourite lines from this book here:

"Meanwhile, Mike Meyers muses that the rapid rise of modern Beijing has made it less a city than a drafting table, and my own observation of a young peasant prostitute 'who had trouble walking in her platform heels' is probably an apt metaphor for a nation struggling to cope with its development." - Tom Carter

"Perfume masked urine; expensive training schools were filled with cheap plastic tables... And the only way to get to an honest place was to cheat your way into it." - Michael Levy

"An old man renting kites pointed to the sun. 'Too hot.' I liked that; an introduction to the Beijing conversation opener of stating of the obvious." - Michael Meyer

"...stating the obvious, an annoying habit of Chinese officials." - Dominic Stevenson

"He was giggling, not out of glee but out of nervousness, as the Chinese have the habit of doing." - Alan Paul

"Mr. Chen grinned, a tell-tale giveaway in China of nervousness." - Matthew Polly

"He laughed and then smiled, two things the Chinese usually did to cover their anxiety." - Jocelyn Eikenburg

"I should explain here that there are no fixed prices in China. It all depends on who you are and how strong your guanxi is with the other party. There is the Chinese friend price (deep guanxi), the Chinese friend-of-friend price (shallow guanxi), the Chinese stranger price (no guanxi), the smart laowai price (he knows what the real Chinese price is), and the sucker laowai price (usually 100-200 percent higher than the smart laowai price." - Matthew Polly

"Yet whenever I sought more information, I was shut down with a solid: 'China is still developing.'" - Matt Muller

"This sign, allegedly posted at the turn of the last century, was merely a symbol of previous humiliations. Yet here it was casting its long shadow over a Shandong playground in 2010, forcing my seven and eight-year-old daughters to answer for events of a hundred years past... Chinese have a fundamentally different relationship with their history than we Westerners. History is a subject we study in school... Not so for the Chinese. History here is not book knowledge. Rather, their history is carried along with them as they walk along the way, an unseen burden, an invisible shadow; unconscious, and therefore, powerful. We American read about history. The Chinese experience it like reaching back into their own memory." - Aminta Arrington

"But the folk who haven't rediscovered any form of traditional spiritual values have found their gaze drifting towards money. Yes, materialism has become the biggest religion of China, and foreign banknotes are the scriptures." - Nury Vittachi

"'The city that never sleeps', some say. That's not true. Shanghai is the city that never wakes; never rises from its reverie. And there is no reason why it should." - Susie Gordon

"Claude admittedly couldn't care less about Chinese culture; he was simply, like so many other foreigners in China - myself included - aimless and desperate for an income. These are exactly the qualifications Chinese schools starving for English teachers seek. New China: a refugee camp for the world's losers." - Tom Carter

"And while Chinese emigrants continue to flee their motherland to chase the American Dream, Westerners are arriving in today's China in unprecedented numbers chasing their own dreams." - Tom Carter

Enjoy reading so far? :) I strongly recommend this book. If you'd like to purchase one, you may visit Amazon online bookstore via this link:

By the way, the only thing I have against this work is the book cover. It's done by a famous North Korean artist but I think it is simply a distorted image of contemporary China, an outdated version which might be based on North Korea's self-image. This picture is said to be popular though.

Will any of you cqexpat members be interested to write some as fascinating stories about your experiences in Chongqing? Perhaps we can make them into another wonderful anthology too. 

Anyway, enjoy reading!
By webmaster (Male. Australia)
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Date: 31 Mar 14    Views: 89    Comments:           

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