Home Is a Roof Over a Pig: An American Family’s Journey in China

Aminta Arrington. Overlook, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59020-899-1
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American teacher Arrington (editor, Saving Grandmother’s Face) nicely demystifies the Chinese language for English speakers in this down-to-earth memoir chronicling her family’s stint in the Chinese province of Shandong on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. Moving to the edge of Tai’an, a university town at the base of Mount Tai, south of Beijing, Arrington and her career Army husband had finagled jobs as English teachers at the Taishan Medical College, located in a gray, polluted backwater where they were issued an exceedingly small apartment for their five-person (three-child) household. In fact, their middle, kindergarten-age daughter, Grace, was adopted from China, initially prompting the author’s interest in learning Chinese. Arrington’s subsequent straightforward lessons in very basic and key concepts proves a fascinating entrée into the Chinese mindset, for example, terms such as population (she stimulated an uneasy discussion in class about the skewed male-female ratio resulting from China’s one-child policy); the dreaded exam, dictated by the one and only one textbook; and the notion of God, which was rendered as “the emperor above.” Arrington was frankly shocked in the rural province by the rudimentary “squatties,” lack of heating, and unenlightened view about women’s leadership abilities (one proverb ran: “Hair long, worldview short”), though she was ultimately charmed by the decent, good-hearted folk and the romantic, practical ramifications of home rendered in the Chinese character as a roof over a pig. Agent, Alexis Hurley, InkWell Management. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 07/05/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4683-0420-6
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4683-0419-0
Paperback - 319 pages - 978-1-4683-0879-2
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