“A remarkable travelogue documenting aspects of a country still little understood.” (Kirkus (starred review))
“Everyone in the Western world should read this book.” (Publishers Weekly, (starred review))
“Hessler has written a fascinating and frequently moving account of life in modern China.” (Booklist)
“A brilliant observer with a novelist’s ear for character and dialogue, Hessler is both fascinating and funny.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Wonderful. . . . Intimate. . . . The book reads like a really good novel.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“Insightful. . . . Hessler is a wry and witty writer who manages to bring humor even to tense situations.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“Engaging. . . . Acutely observed, moving, frequently funny and a perspicacious X-ray of China’s zeitgeist.” (South China Morning Post)
“An extraordinary, genre-defying book. . . . Beautifully constructed. . . . Hessler’s reportage is vivid.” (Nigel Richardson, The Daily Telegraph)
Oracle Bones tells its engaging and compelling story through the lives of a handful of ordinary people. The author himself is a Westerner living as a journalist in Beijing; the narrative tracks his story along with that of Polat, a trader and member of a forgotten ethnic minority, who moves to the West in search of fortune; William Jefferson Foster, who grew up in an illiterate village; Anne, a migrant factory worker in a city without a past; and Chen Mengjia, a mysterious scholar of an ancient writing form known as oracle bones, a man whose reputation has slipped into obscurity since his suicide in the 1960s. All of them are migrants, emigrants, or wanderers who find themselves far from home, their lives dramatically changed by historical forces they are struggling to understand. Hessler excavates the past in search of meaning, but his intimate approach puts a remarkable human face on the history he uncovers. We discover with him not only where the great, influential cultures of East and West intersect, but also how people create meaning out of chaotic world events.
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