Han Suyin's China

Han Suyin, Author, Michael John Langford, Illustrator, Geoff Mason, Illustrator Universe Publishing(NY) $34.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-87663-688-6
Since China's reopening to the outside world, its beauty and otherness have made the country the subject of numerous picture books. Why, then, yet another, and how does it measure up? The ostensible reason for this volume is to glimpse a more remote China, with benefit of a textual guided tour by the well-known writer Han Suyin. The two antipodean photographers here produce attractive, good-humored and occasionally arresting images of Tibet, Xinjiang, Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangxi, and also include shots of the more ``familiar'' Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, etc. All of these places have found their way into other published albums, sometimes rather more evoca tively. But the text's the thing on which the book ultimately disappoints. The poetic prose too often misinforms. Qinghai Province is described as ``an unexplored paradise,'' when the Chinese know it as the site of the country's harshest labor camps; Kaifeng, contrary to the author's assertion, no longer boasts a settlement of Jews; and the list goes on, punctuated by misspellings and inconsistencies in Romanizing Chinese names. Han Suyin should have done better by her photographers and readers alike. (September)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
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