Digging to China: Down and Out in the Middle Kingdom

J. D. Brown, Author Soho Press $18.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-939149-51-3
During the mid-1980s Brown taught English at a medical college in the northern Chinese city of Xi'an; this is his story of the experience, including a coda relating his reactions to two subsequent trips to the Middle Kingdom, the last in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square. An insightful writer, he has an eye for the telling detail and manages to appreciate Chinese culture without being unnecessarily awed, a stance which allows him to maintain objectivity. Brown's sense is that the most enduring of China's national traits is perseverance--that, as a society, it ``possesses far more than its share of time'' and ``with perfect indifference . . . can ride its celestial tracks almost forever.'' He tends to focus on the personal rather than the political, forgoing a broad portrait for anecdotal images of daily life. There are a few false notes--the author's description of his search for the birthplace of Chinese Buddhism, for instance, reads like a guidebook--but for the most part, this is a charming look at a land where the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Paperback - 978-0-939149-88-9
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