China Underground

China Underground

4.5 7
by Zachary Mexico
     
 

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At the beginning of the 21st century, it is hard to imagine a place more exciting than China. Westerners hear much about China’s role as the next “global superpower,” but they know less about the young people who make up China’s varied and fascinating subcultures.
Drawn by the streets humming with the energy of constant change, Zachary Mexico

Overview

At the beginning of the 21st century, it is hard to imagine a place more exciting than China. Westerners hear much about China’s role as the next “global superpower,” but they know less about the young people who make up China’s varied and fascinating subcultures.
Drawn by the streets humming with the energy of constant change, Zachary Mexico, who had spent two years in China, returned there in the summer of 2006 to conduct formal research on how the changing environment has affected the Chinese of his generation. 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.
This is an engaging firsthand account of a young American writer’s encounter with the new China and the young people who are pursuing their future there. China Underground tells their stories, and some of Mexico’s own.

Editorial Reviews

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593763206
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
02/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
561 KB

Meet the Author

Zachary Mexico was born in 1979. He started studying Chinese at age fifteen, and traveled to China for the first time at age sixteen. He has studied at Columbia University in New York and Qinghua University in Beijing. He plays in the rock group The Octagon and the electronic duo Gates of Heaven. He lives in New York City’s Chinatown.

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China Underground 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Vermillion_Bear More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished Zachary Mexico's book. I'm amazed by his
eloquent story telling, the clarity of his observations and his
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.

The writings show an avid interest in people's stories, a gift of
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.

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.
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