China Underground

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Overview

In the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is hard to imagine a place more exciting than China. The country's economy is growing by more than ten percent per year. The lives of Chinese citizens in every stratum of society are changing--indeed, the very rules that define the parameters of their lives are changing. Over a billion people are simultaneously hustling, trying to decipher the rules, carving a place out for themselves in the new China. Predictably, the result is a glorious mess.Westerners are ...
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China Underground

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Overview

In the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is hard to imagine a place more exciting than China. The country's economy is growing by more than ten percent per year. The lives of Chinese citizens in every stratum of society are changing--indeed, the very rules that define the parameters of their lives are changing. Over a billion people are simultaneously hustling, trying to decipher the rules, carving a place out for themselves in the new China. Predictably, the result is a glorious mess.Westerners are fascinated with news coming out of China, but in general, most such reporting focuses on the country's economy (growth rates, infrastructure, trade deficits, currency valuation, globalization, etc.), social issues (human rights, income inequality, diseases such as avian flu, SARS, and HIV/Aids, the traditional Chinese culture, mainstream social trends, etc.), and the current government (the workings of the CCP, its response to social unrest, etc.). Westerners hear much about China's booming economy and its role as the next global superpower from the mainstream media, but they know less about the young people who make up China's varied and fascinating subcultures.In China Underground, Mexico introduces young western readers to their Chinese counterparts, highlighting an unfamiliar side of China: today's varied youth cultures, which are both fascinating and under-exposed. Readers are introduced to a wannabe rock star from the desert of Xinjiang, trying to make it big in Shanghai; a disillusioned journalist; a budding screenwriter; a vagabond ladies' man; a straight-A student at China's best university; a Chinese mafia kingpin; a punk band trying their best to stay relevant; a prostitute; the world's most polluted city; Beijing's drug-fueled club scene, and many others.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
China is often in the news, but our knowledge of this massive country is cursory at best. Carefully controlled by the Chinese government, little escapes the scrutiny of those who monitor the media. With such a large land mass, a mix of cultures, and one of the world's oldest civilizations, it's surprisingly difficult to frame an accurate picture.

In China Underground, Mexico takes us on a kaleidoscopic journey into the lives of its denizens to reveal the "new" China. It's a riveting ride, with cameos by a drug hustler, a group of club kids, a new prostitute, and some seriously stressed-out teenagers cramming for their college entrance exams. Mexico visits the artists and musicians who comprise the creative class, and the scores obsessed with the newest role-playing game. Through his lens, we see a people disillusioned and full of despair -- a people who've embraced the Western values we cherish.

Like Suketu Mehta's portrait of Mumbai in Maximum City, Mexico's peek behind the Great Wall is surprisingly revelatory. Did you know that the Chinese shun credit cards as well as voice mail? Or that the population of many of its cities makes Manhattan seem like a quiet country meadow? Read this gripping, sometimes comic, always illuminating book and find out what it's like to live in China today: the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Summer 2009 Selection)
Publishers Weekly

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.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593762230
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/27/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    China in a new light

    I picked up this book after wanting to learn more about China, a country I someday hope to visit. China Underground is a great book giving the reader different stories about the various people living and changing China. When I first tried to read this book it seemed a little boring, but by the second chapter I was hooked. There were times where I found the writing to be full of purple prose, but I was able to overlook it since the work as a whole has a nice style and rhythm to it. Zachary Mexico definitely introduces some interesting characters in his book. I've read numerous books about China, but it was nice to learn something new, like the "Killing People clubs." I think the book is an excellent read and I hope Mexico decides to write more in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2009

    Mexico in China

    I just finished Zachary Mexico's book. I'm amazed by his<BR/>eloquent story telling, the clarity of his observations and his<BR/>proficiency in the subtleties of the Chinese language. I was struck by his bravery to travel alone throughout China following leads, exploring the dicey underbelly of an enormous, complex country and exposing his findings.<BR/><BR/>The writings show an avid interest in people's stories, a gift of<BR/>conversation, a true non-judgemental (my spell checker is telling me that is not a word) compassion for how people deal with their lot in life.<BR/><BR/>The book was captivating because of the fascinating, real people interviewed and because of Zachary's youthful yet wise reactions to his surroundings. In addition to his descriptions of characters and life situations he fleshed out his studies by writing about living spaces, food choices, clothing fit and interestingly, brand names of their cigarettes as if that too reflected upon one's character. He sees China as a worldly, yet objective, young outsider, free to express what is often not sanctioned in China. His inclusion of historical contexts was extremely helpful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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