non-fiction

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The art of guanxi

Or how to get a visa, Sichuan style – by Tom Sampson

 

I first set foot in Xichang, in southern Sichuan, to teach English in spring 2009. Xichang is the capital city of the Yi minority group, surrounded by rugged mountains and with blue skies all year round. I felt like a real explorer. There wasn’t anything in particular that I wanted to learn or take away from the place – but that was out of my hands. After my time there, I am now a highly qualified back scratcher, trained in the dark arts of creating and maintaining guanxi.

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The Good Earth

Pearl Buck, a country wedding, and how to cook pig guts

 

This spring festival, I read Pearl Buck’s 1931 novel The Good Earth in the perfect location – the farmlands of Anhui, where the book is set. (Read my LARB co-blogger Maura Cunningham’s take on the book here.)

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The Dumpling Party (part two)

In which the limits of our hero’s stomach are tested, and he has a nap

 

Ed: Previously on The Dumpling Party: Our fearless narrator vanquished an unsavoury surprise at breakfast, daringly negotiated conversations with his Chinese host family, and braved the villainous monotony of shopping at The MegaStore. And now, the shocking conclusion you've been waiting for ...

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The Dumpling Party (part one)

In which our hero battles a salty egg, and is tortured by Chinese muzak

 

Ed: Richard wrote this Chinese homestay saga shortly after first coming to live in Beijing. I hope his close encounters with salty eggs, excessive hospitality and mutual unintelligibility will prepare the uninitiated, and remind those jaded old hands that they too had a first time in China

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“I Want to Marry a Chinese Man”

The battle diary of a foreigner on Chinese TV – by Sasha Draggeim

 

“More emotion! Make it natural! Relax!!” the director shouted into his microphone as I awkwardly pranced around the stage, background dancers scurrying to and fro. The advice wasn’t helping: the more I tried to act natural, the more nervous I was at the prospect of appearing on television in China to millions of viewers in a tiny strapless dress, singing “I Want to Marry a Chinese Man” in Mandarin.

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