Compiled by Alexandra Pearson and Lucy Cavender
Beijing: Portrait of a City is the shared work of some of the city’s finest writers who lead us through ‘hutong’ alleys, antique markets, artists’ communities, gay bars, parks and the nostalgic streets of memory. They beguile with poems, amuse with camel anecdotes and thrill with two murder stories – one a genuine antique, the other a fictional contemporary. They take us back to the often-ignored Mongolian roots of the city and project forward to ask whether spectacular modern architecture will suffice to return Beijing to what it sees as its ancient place at the centre of the world.
The book interweaves its written work with a collection of wry and telling photographs of different aspects of the city, creating a compelling portrait of Beijing.
The contributors – including Zhu Wen, Adam Williams, Roy Kesey, Ma Jian, Alfreda Murck, Tim Clissold, Catherine Sampson, Peter Hessler, Karen Smith, Paul French, Michael Aldrich, Hong Ying and Rob Gifford, all published authors and experts in their field – have spent many years living in Beijing and know it from the inside. Their individual contributions combine to leave a highly original and unforgettable impression of one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating cities.