“It’s also a community study of this section of Beijing and what it’s gone through. The main figures in her book are people who have never really had a moment when their lives dramatically improved—in the way that the Revolution was supposed to have dramatically improved their lives after liberation. Their lives also didn’t dramatically improve when the reform period happened, and money began to be made in China. They were continually on the margins. One of the things that’s powerful about this book is that the major standout events in a political, top-down history of Beijing aren’t necessarily the things that are the key marking points in these people’s lives. It’s a very ground’s eye view of the Mao years and the period after that, which gets you to rethink a lot of your assumptions about the shape of China during the last 70 years.” Read more...
Best China Books of 2020