What do normal people in China look forward to when they get up in the morning? What is the mentor of Lang Lang like? What about the personal friend of Chairman Mao – and how does his granddaughter relate to him after the murderous Cultural Revolution? What do the numerous evangelical Americans really think of the Chinese? How does the One Country, Two Systems paradigm work for Hong Kong?
For the last 73 years, American Book Award winner Alex Kuo has travelled back-and-forth between America and China. These letters and essays portray the private China, and provide indispensable cultural information for anyone interested in the People’s Republic in the 21st century.
“Although in recent years the amount of literature about China has grown significantly, Alex Kuo’s My Private China successfully sets itself apart from the rest. … Being born in Boston, raised in wartime Chongqing and having attended school in Hong Kong, Kuo – who won the American Book Award in 2002 with his compilation Lipstick and Other Stories – can be described as a “third-culture kid”. And even though Kuo claims, in a previous interview with the Post, that he is not a Hong Kong writer, he often writes about the issues the city faces in My Private China. As other books on China aim to discuss its economy, politics or the famous people it has produced, Kuo’s collection of profiles, interviews, essays and poems breathes life into his personal accounts of the mainland.” – South China Morning Post
“When you sit down with Alex Kuo, you’re instantly put at ease. The acclaimed Chinese American author has a calming influence, an elegantly mannered way of speaking and a carefully relaxed tone. And that, to us, is pretty surprising. Here’s a man who’s just launched his latest book, My Private China, in Hong Kong and it’s basically a tome which, through the use of letters, essays, fiction and even poetry, attempts to show the world many aspects of the Middle Kingdom – and Hong Kong, in places – which it would probably prefer to remain hidden. It’s a bold move.” – Time Out
Alex Kuo appeared on the award-winning Asian Threads on RTHK Radio 3. Listen to the podcast
“Alex Kuo’s newest book, My Private China, is a penetrating glimpse into a cross-section of life in China today. From Lang Lang’s formidable piano teacher Madame Zhou Guangren to zealous evangelical missionaries, Kuo gives us a dazzling, at times, unsparing, kaleidoscopic view of Chinese trying to keep with the speed of the world moving around them balancing ancient customs with new habits.” – World Policy
“With irony, wit and intelligence, Alex Kuo shares his unique experiences in China and Hong Kong. Part memoir, part cultural analysis, My Private China skewers stereotypes and misconceptions with the sharp eye and beautiful prose of the novelist and poet he is also. This is a must-read for China watchers and anyone willing to get behind the lazy reporting and political posturing that so often informs—or misinforms—writing about China.” – Robert Abel, author of Riding a Tiger
“In My Private China Alex Kuo plays with the multiple realities of Tiananmen Square China, global China, and post-colonial China. The shifting scales of ancient, present and future merge into a meditation on China’s place and China’s space. Though he may reveal that the tank gun barrels in 1989 Tiananmen were plugged, Kuo is certainly unplugged in this insightful collection.” – R. Edward Grumbine, author of Where the Dragon Meets the Angry River