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Over the last decade, as a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three books, Peter Hessler has lived in Asia and the United States, writing as both native and knowledgeable outsider in these two very different regions. This unusual perspective distinguishes Strange Stones, which showcases Hessler’s unmatched range as a storyteller. “Wild Flavor” invites listeners along on a taste test between two rat restaurants in South China. One story profiles Yao Ming, basketball star and China’s most beloved export, another David Spindler, an obsessive and passionate historian of the Great Wall. In “Dr. Don”, Hessler writes movingly about a small-town pharmacist and his relationship with the people he serves.
While Hessler’s subjects and locations vary, subtle but deeply important thematic links bind these pieces - the strength of local traditions, the surprising overlap between apparently opposing cultures, and the powerful lessons drawn from individuals who straddle different worlds.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Katherine on 08-02-13
I played this while driving with others, thinking it would have the broadest appeal. In that it was very successful. However, when one loves an author, one tends to devour his or her work and I found I'd heard most of these stories already in shorter forms in The New Yorker.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Diana on 01-21-15
Armchair journeys and expat living in China / USA
This series of experiences shared in one book are a very enjoyable way to learn about China and some of the Chinese people encountered at a time when there is a great change in their country.
The narration is Fantastic! because George Backman speaks the Chinese names in Chinese, so it is a fascinating listen to hear a sentence start off in English, break into the Chinese name pronounced authentically, and resume in English.
Peter Hessler lived in China many years, speaks the language, and lived in neighborhoods where he was the only foreigner. His experiences with neighbors, businesses, authorities, and with other non-Chinese people living, working or studying in China are really interesting and sometimes funny and poignant.
The book also includes his move back to the US west, and readjustment to American society and people. Which is also an interesting point of view and also a bit humorous.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful