China Underground

Zachary Mexico, Author . Counterpoint/Soft Skull $16.95 (306p) ISBN 978-1-59376-223-0

Collected through intimate encounters over an impressive range of travels, Mexico’s menagerie of voices tell the unique story of contemporary China’s seismic social shifts from the point of view of the marginalized and disaffected. A musician and writer, Mexico is a remarkably eloquent and perceptive participant-observer. Focusing on and dissecting broader cultural, political and economic issues in episodic chapters, he puts faces and names to the staggering statistics. We learn about the government-estimated “5 to 10 million active homosexuals,” through the story of a closeted graphic designer. We meet an infamous photojournalist who chronicles China’s mining disasters, corruption, car accidents and environmental degradation. We encounter bohemians—80-year-old women selling marijuana on the side of busy streets and slackers whose indolence is a protest against the frenzied consumerism that surrounds them. One such self-proclaimed “social parasite” opened a bar in a trendy area of Beijing to sell drinks at cost and only to his friends. The overall effect is a seamless portrait of a complex modern society in which an ancient culture persists in spite of lightning-speed economic changes. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 01/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 348 pages - 978-1-4587-9221-1
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