Book Review: Beijing Blur

With so many books on travel in China coming out these days, it’s clear that we readers have a fascination with this important country; even though not that many of us have visited China yet, we all want to read about it. And for a modern look at some “real life” for a foreigner in China, James West’a Beijing Blur: A Head-Spinning Journey Into Modern China is a great addition.

Bejing Blur

Beijing Blur is the story of five seasons spent in China by Australian journalist West. Working for a Chinese radio station, West’s experiences are many and varied, and often not what we’ve come to expect from China travelogues – just as an example, the book opens at a rave held on the Great Wall of China.

After this unusual beginning, West sets out his expectations of China, gleaned from childhood meals at Chinese restaurants back home and flamboyant Hong Kong films. As you might expect, the reality of China is somewhat different, and West sinks into culture shock to start with. But things get better, and he gives us all kinds of interesting insights into the life of a foreigner in Beijing, including his first attempt to stamp out corruption (he hands back the bribe money handed out to a bunch of journalists with their press packs) and meets some of the current young generation, growing up somewhat spoiled in “New China”, and finds out how they really tick.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Peter Fuchs