Synopses & Reviews
Adventures in a nation on the road
Long caricatured as a land of stagnant traditions or lockstep Maoist conformity, China today is a country on the move. Literally—China's new migrant labor pool, known as the "blind river," logs in more road miles and piecework hours than any other workforce in the world—but also mentally and spiritually, as more and more Chinese search for some new faith, whether Maoist, Buddhist, humanist, or laissez-faire - to fill in where decaying Party ideology leaves off. The new China, where religious pilgrims cross paths with born-again capitalists and uprooted communards, is a chaos of true believers pursuing different, often conflicting, visions of fulfillment.
The author and the illustrator, an American newsman and his Taiwanese wife, trail a series of such pilgrims: wandering farmhands, itinerant actors, a qi gong guru, a careerist policeman, a muckraking lawyer, a die-hard revolutionary agitator, a Taiwanese con man, a Tibetan lama, and many more. The result is neither a travelogue nor an analytic set piece, but a moral panorama, lit from within by the divergent hopes of Chinese citizens today.
"[The] digressions, while at times meandering, are redeemed by Kaye's ample knowledge of China and his childlike excitement over his subject. Kaye's edifying narrative can...entertainingly skim across a range of subjects throughout China's long, complicated history....[C]apture[s] the conflicts and contradictions of a country that is so often depicted as a teeming, homogenous mass." Publishers Weekly
"Sinophiles will delight in his companionable, experienced guidance." Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
"A literate journey....Well-written, humorous, and instructive: a useful resource for China-watchers and travelers." Kirkus Reviews
"[Kaye] skillfully weaves history and commentary throughout his narratives of people met....Kaye goes deeper and better informed into China and the Chinese way of life than do most travel writers. This is not a book on politics or economics but rather one for those with more than a passing fancy for the cultures of the world's most populous nation." Library Journal
The new China is a chaos of true believers pursuing different, often conflicting, visions of fulfillment. The author and the illustrator, an American newsman and his Taiwanese wife, trail a series of such pilgrims. The result is neither a travelogue nor an analytic set piece, but a moral panorama, lit from within by the divergent hopes of Chinese citizens today.
About the Author
has headed the Far Eastern Economic Review
bureaus in six Asian countries, including five years in China. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, Slate
and The Nations
. He and Hsu Mei-Lang have been married for twenty-five years.