China in Ten Words

  • by Yu Hua, Allan H. Barr (translator)
  • Narrated by Don Hagen
  • 7 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From one of China’s most acclaimed writers, his first work of nonfiction to appear in English: a unique, intimate look at the Chinese experience over the last several decades, told through personal stories and astute analysis that sharply illuminate the country’s meteoric economic and social transformation.
Framed by ten phrases common in the Chinese vernacular - “people”, “leader”, “reading”, “writing”, “Lu Xun” (one of the most influential Chinese writers of the twentieth century), “disparity”, “revolution”, “grassroots”, “copycat”, and “bamboozle” - China in Ten Words reveals as never before the world’s most populous yet oft-misunderstood nation. In “Disparity”, for example, Yu Hua illustrates the mind-boggling economic gaps that separate citizens of the country. In “Copycat”, he depicts the escalating trend of piracy and imitation as a creative new form of revolutionary action. And in “Bamboozle”, he describes the increasingly brazen practices of trickery, fraud, and chicanery that are, he suggests, becoming a way of life at every level of society.
Characterized by Yu Hua’s trademark wit, insight, and courage, China in Ten Words is a refreshingly candid vision of the “Chinese miracle” and all its consequences, from the singularly invaluable perspective of a writer living in China today.


What the Critics Say

“Moving and elegantly crafted . . . Offers rare insight into the cause and effect of China’s "economic miracle", focusing close attention on the citizens of the world’s most populous country. With an intimate tone and witty prose, Yu looks at the "effects that seem so glorious and searches for their causes, whatever discomfort that may entail," training his incisive eye on the quotidian as well as the grand . . . His book describes his particular experience, but hints at something much more expansive.” (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A collection of the writers experiences

This is a good overview of China and I often think of some of the words when I am walking around here now. The one that most comes to mind is disparity. I see the construction workers and cleaners who lead a hard scrabble life working all day and often sharing squalid dormitories at night, where they play cards and sit around simply constructed tables with stools playing cards or eating. This is in sharp contrast to the so called middle class guy that now has a car, an apartment, built by one of the hard working migrants mentioned above and all the trapping of success we have come to associate with a decent life.In all fairness, I live near Shanghai, so my perspective is perhaps a bit too optimistic. There are plenty of other provinces where this disparity is greater and the infrastructure isn't as modern as where I am based. Yu Hua gives us a great overview in this brief account of a large and complex country that is hurtling towards modernity. I especially liked his account of how he learned to be a dentist. A profession he took up after high school. He describes in poignant detail how a veteran dentist showed him how to extract teeth and then had him copycat the process after having only watched two times. He was nervous and couldn't even look the patient in the eye. The book is by no means an exhaustive work, but it was entertaining and provoked some better understanding of a place I have been in for nearly 5 years. Chinese people are not usually so forthcoming and so it can be a place that seems barbarous and even bizarre at times. It is always interesting and many times shocking and surprising to simply observe life in China.
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- matthew "I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile"

Best Popular Book on China

Fantastic book! I have now read 3 "popular" style books written about China, this is by far the best one. (The others were Dreaming in Chinese by Fallows- pretty good from a linguistics angle and Lost on Planet China by Troost - not horrible, but there's a lot better out there i'm sure). The author of this book, Yu Hua, is a prominent Chinese author who lives in Beijing/Hangzhou. He has written a number of very successful Chinese novels. This one, is ten essays on various parts of China. It is banned in China. It's a chinese person being honest about the Chinese government and history. This is a gold mine.

Reading and Copycat were probably my two favorite essays. In the first, he talks about growing up in the cultural revolution and scrounging around for books to read. He almost never gets past Mao's little red book and Lu Xun's various writings. He does find some books that have been extremely battered, often only partially surviving to feed his literary desires.

In copycat he talks about the chinese mentality behind making copycat products. A couple of times he has had fictitious interviews of him published and he will confront a reporter on it and the reporter simply says "it's copycat" and in the chinese culture, that justifies it.

There are many good things for him to say about China as well. This book was well written, engaging and so helpful for someone living in China to understand it a bit more. I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone looking for a thoughtful, accessible, historical and contemporary read on modern China.
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- taylor storey

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-01-2012
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC