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Beijing: Portrait of a City

24.57

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.

SKU: 978-962-21780-3-8 Categories: , , , , Tag:

Description

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.

MEDIA ATTENTION

“…a gloriously idiosyncratic mix of form and flavour that takes us into territory no guidebook can reach. There is immense substance here, but that is almost beside the point. This is not just a book to learn from; it is a treat to be savoured.” Jonathan Watts, The Guardian

“Absorbing… takes the reader on a journey through the streets, hearts and minds of Beijing… captures a panoramic view, vivid and unvarnished, of a unique moment in time as an historic city grapples the past and embraces the future.” James McGregor, author of One Billion Customers

Additional information

Dimensions230 × 240 mm
Pages

174

Binding

Paperback

Illustrations

50 photographs

About the authors

Alexandra Pearson spent her teenage years in China in the early eighties, and returned to Beijing in 1992 to study ethnomusicology at The Central Conservatory of Music. In 2002 she established a little book bar in Beijing called The Bookworm, which has since evolved into thriving hubs of literary activity in three cities across China.

Lucy Cavender first came to Beijing in 1985 as a student, and later followed a career in development for the European Commission and the United Nations in Brussels, Mongolia, Central Asia, Malaysia and China. She has lived in Beijing for the past ten years with her husband, James Jynge, and three children, Tom, Ella and Ollie.

Zhu Wen is a poet, writer and film director originally from Fujian Province. He is best known in English for his collection of short stories, I Love Dollars. In this collection, he contributes three previously untranslated poems that were written shortly after he arrived to live in the unfamiliar northern capital.

Adam Williams is a long-term Beijing resident with a family history in China that dates back to the 1880’s. He is the author of a China trilogy which culminates in The Dragon’s Tail. The Camels of Khanbalik is a lyrical insight into how perception is sifted through the veils of memory and imagination.

Roy Kesey is an up and coming writer of short stories who is soon to be a household name. He has recently published his own collection of stories, All Over and one of his works was selected to be in Best of American Short Stories. In Portrait of a City he takes the reader on a mesmeric journey through a well-known recent epic.

Ma Jian is best known for his award winning travel book Red Dust. His essay takes us back to the 1980’s when now famous artists, authors, poets and musicians huddled in his small ‘hutong’ house discussing politics, philosophy and art.

Alfreda Murck is an art historian specialising in the history of Song dynasty painting. Her publications include Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent. In Portrait of a City she leads us through the back alleys of Panjiayuan market and into the intricacies of a wheeler dealer culture.

Tim Clissold is a well-known writer and businessman whose first book, Mr China, has appeared on best seller lists worldwide. With two decades of experience in China and a passion for protecting the environment, he uses the wisdom of China’s ancient philosophy to comment on the city’s environmental malaise.

Catherine Sampson is a Beijing-based crime writer who, following the success of her first three crime novels, has brought her characters to Beijing’s murkier underworld. In this collection she follows a character introduced in her third novel Pool of Unease, and sets her story against a backdrop of migrant workers and their privations.

Peter Hessler is famous for River Town, his sublime account of life in a town on the Yangtze River. His follow-up, Oracle Bones was shortlisted for a US National Book Award. In Portrait of a City, Peter recounts a moving true story of a young boy, his illness, and experience in a hospital in Beijing.

Karen Smith, the author of Nine Lives, the Birth of Avant Garde Art in Contemporary China, gives us an insight into the early days of the marginalized artist’s communities as they tried to flourish in Beijing.

Paul French has written several books on China which display his polyglot talents and range of interests the latest of which is Carl Crow, a Tough Old China Hand: The Life, Times, and Adventures of an American in Shanghai. Here, he takes a real life unsolved murder case from Peking in 1937 to create a riveting whodunit.

Michael Aldrich, author of The Search for a Vanishing Beijing, gives us a captivating take on Beijing’s little known but considerable Mongolian heritage.

Hong Ying is best known in English for the novels K: the Art of Love, Summer of Betrayal, Peacock Cries, and her autobiography Daughter of the River. She is something of a literary icon in the gay community following her brave novels which focus on injustice and compassion in Chinese society. For Portrait of a City, she takes the reader into parts of Beijing that few would know existed.

Rob Gifford was NPR correspondent in China and then took a road trip from Shanghai to the Kazakh border, a journey that became the subject of his 2007 book, China Road. Here he captures the architectural transformation of Beijing as it girds itself for the summer Olympics.