River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

4.2 26
by Peter Hessler
     
 

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A New York Times Notable Book

Winner of the Kiriyama Book Prize

In the heart of China's Sichuan province, amid the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, lies the remote town of Fuling. Like many other small cities in this ever-evolving country, Fuling is heading down a new path of change and growth, which came into

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Overview

A New York Times Notable Book

Winner of the Kiriyama Book Prize

In the heart of China's Sichuan province, amid the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, lies the remote town of Fuling. Like many other small cities in this ever-evolving country, Fuling is heading down a new path of change and growth, which came into remarkably sharp focus when Peter Hessler arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer, marking the first time in more than half a century that the city had an American resident. Hessler taught English and American literature at the local college, but it was his students who taught him about the complex processes of understanding that take place when one is immersed in a radically different society.

Poignant, thoughtful, funny, and enormously compelling, River Town is an unforgettable portrait of a city that is seeking to understand both what it was and what it someday will be.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062028983
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/21/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
281,190
File size:
827 KB

Meet the Author

Peter Hessler is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the Beijing correspondent from 2000 to 2007, and is also a contributing writer for National Geographic. He is the author of River Town, which won the Kiriyama Prize; Oracle Bones, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and, most recently, Country Driving. He won the 2008 National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting, and he was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011. He lives in Cairo.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Beijing, China
Date of Birth:
June 14, 1968
Place of Birth:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Education:
Princeton University, Creative Writing and English, 1992; Oxford University, English Language and Literature, 1994

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River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My son who lives as a foreigner in China directed me to read the book, and I found it wonderful. . Not only does it provide a dynamic insight into the country's present thinking (through Hessler's students' essays), but it allows us to watch his efforts to move gently and gracefully through his local society, with varying success. . Not only is the book enlightening, but it's wonderfully entertaining, as we share the bittersweet adventure of joining a culture that's so hard to decode. I read the book before a trip to Beijing, and thought about it every day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is excellent. Hessler's very eloquent, descriptive, humorous and poetic at times. I've highlighted almost every passage because his observations are impecable, very poignant, honest, and very funny. Hessler's quite a character. I'm actually going to give my family a copy of it because we travel so much and we spend our time trying to understand and fit in with other cultures. And this one time I wanted to know how others try to understand ours. I feel very lucky to have stumbled upon Hessler's River Town. Can't praise it enough.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While this book is excellent for people unfamiliar with China, it is also highly recommended for those with a more in depth knowledge. I myself have spent time in Taiwan and China and was often struck by how accurate Hessler's observations were. The section on Chinese photo albums and the rather bizarre photo culture there was hilarious, as was the section on the English names Chinese people take. I also identified with Hessler's alternate personality, his self in Chinese, Ho Wei. Anyone who studies Chinese has this other personality...kind of dumb, illiterate, and not at all erudite or funny. This book will make you laugh out loud, but it also has a serious side, discussing issues such as the sky-high rates of suicide among women in China, the educational atmosphere in a system tightly controlled by the CCP, and the death of Deng Xiaoping.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Hesslers book, RIVER TOWN, gives the reader an outstanding look at contemporary China. As he does so, he teaches the reader a few Chinese words here and there. This kind of person, Hessler, is exactly who John F. Kennedy had in mind when he created the Peace Corps.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book 3 days ago and was soon completely absorbed in reading it. It was fascinating to see China through Hessler's observations. His wrote his experience as an American teacher in Fuling with great humor and prose, backed by sharp oberservations and intellectual vigor. This is a must read for anyone with an interest in China!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a great book for people who want to understand the Chinese culture. I feel enlightened reading the book. I know my own culture better through a foreigner's eyes. Peter Hessler caught those moments a native Chinese will never pay attention to. I truly enjoy his sense of humor and good writing. I hope he can find more interesting things to write about during his stay in China.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very accessible in his writing, he brings the true experience of a young American in modern China. Hessler deftly brings up important points in China's history so as to help us understand what helps to shape the modern Chinese attitude towards foreigners of different nationalities, relations among fellow man, and their own relationships with themselves and their country.

Through this narrative based in part on his journal writings, we get a voyeuristic view as the book develops, riding along with Hessler's metamorphosis in character as he develops Ho Wei, his Chinese self. Hessler keeps the reader on thier toes through contrasting American and British attitudes and behaviors with those of the Chinese. He has evidently learned both yin and yang and lays both out fairly for the reader to decide on each subject he treats this way.

A great read that brings a wealth of knowledge of modern China and more than a couple of laughs along the way.

Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an incredible eye-opener about Chinese culture. A sprinkling of wit binds together a string of vignettes which lay bare the society of this remote, interior, Chinese city. Hessler's personality rings through the pages as he draws you into his world and his experiences. This is a must read for anyone who wants to travel in Asia or who wishes to understand the role that China will have in the coming century. Simply a fabulous book.
DoranneLongPTMS More than 1 year ago
This exceptionally written book is a must read! Peter captures, in a very sensitive way, the life of a Peace Corp English teacher in China. He shares the difficulties, and the wonders, of his experience, and places his own time living within the context of China's ancient history, and now rapid changes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A skilled writer, at times waxing poetic, with a graceful style, yet realistic in his portrayal both of his own reactions and of the Chinese. A few times Hessler could have benefitted from an editor's wisdom, shortening some of his descriptive narrative of interactions and personalities encountered. But that's a minor quibble, since I was eager to continue reading and eventually completed the book. I'd certainly recommend this bok anyone interested in contemporary China. I learned, for instance, that Chinese, even in a fairly rigid political and cultural climate, are quite as capable of self reflection and critique, independent thinking, and creative entrepreneurship as anyone else is.
cdrdot More than 1 year ago
Very well written story about a young man's experience teaching at a Chinese Teachers College in a very remote area. His characters are alive and well developed. Author highlights the positive and negative personality traits of himself, his fellow Americans and the Chinese people he encounters. I did not want the story to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can usually make it through just about any book but I had to abandon this one. It was interesting up to a point to learn about the Chinese culture and that geographic region and some of the Chinese history. But I kept waiting for a story that never came. I gave up at page 127. Nice writing but just couldn't grab my interest for the long haul.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is fun to read. I had very little understanding of anything about China or the Peace Corps and this book takes you inside the life of a small College but also brings the perspective of a foreigner in a rural river town. It is well written and hard to put down.I am so glad that I read it!
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llamamia More than 1 year ago
River Town provides an enlightening account of what it is like to live & work in rural China. I wish the individual who lived in Chongqing & wrote a previous review had been more specific in their criticism, as it appears to me that Hessler tried his best to meet & honestly assess the lives & feelings of the people in this remote area. I also found it interesting to hear what cautionary training the Peace Corp provided for someone to work in a Communist country & how the volunteers were able to cope with multiple issues & problems. Hessler writes with clarity & a touch of humor which makes the history lesson included more fun. I look forward to reading his two sequels, Oracle Bones & Country Driving.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be interesting and enlightening. It is well written and goes fast
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Hessler appears to have set foot in Fulin with a preconceived notion of superiority that never left him. What remains clear throughout his book is that he constantly treated the Chinese as subjects of his anectodes. It's as if he was composing his book as he experienced it. I think it left Hessler feeling removed from the Chinese. River Town never gets around this feeling. There are much better books on China out there. I recommend Da Chen's memoirs.