Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China

Colin Thubron, Author
Colin Thubron, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $18.95 (306p) ISBN 978-0-87113-242-0
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Like a classical Chinese scroll, this book follows a meandering, atmospheric course through China's landscape. Thubron ( Where Nights Are Longest: Travels by Car Through Western Russia ) rambles from exuberant urban centers like Canton and Shanghai through intensively tilled farmlands to such lesser-known sites as the elegant canal city of Suzhou and through countless small towns and villages. With impressionistic color, vitality and immediacy, he creates images that linger in memory: monks performing a nocturnal candlelit ritual for the dead; Mao's birthplace, once thronged with Chinese pilgrims, now eerily deserted; the flamboyant beauty of tribal nomads. A fluent speaker of Mandarin, Thubron often breaks cultural barriers, talking candidly with and even visitng the homes of the people he encounters. Most express contentment with the relatively relaxed policies of their government, and their aspirations are openly materialistic. The author also visited a prison, a hospital, an art school where only Ming-dynasty painting is taught (``as though whole Western academies were to devote themselves to the style of Giotto . . . ''). The overall impression is of a pragmatic, complex people, engaged in a quiet stampede toward capitalism, rediscovering parts of their past and ready to forge their own future. (September)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X