Chinese Society in Literature

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After the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, China was opening up and modernizing its economy. So in a sense, this memoir by Dewoskin, who is the daughter of Kenneth DeWoskin, a noted Sinologist at the University of Michigan, should become a serious record of those changing times, of at least the city of Beijing, especially as she had childhood memories of China because of which she says she felt connected to China. Her father had been taking his family to China since her brothers were tiny. Even she remembers the childhood train rides across internal China, and how her parents made the children drink thick, warm beer, since they could never be sure water was clean, even when it was bottled. And her mother felt that China, of those days, was just like Disneyland, except of course authentic. My mother brushed her teeth out the train window, rinsed with beer, and read us Charlotte’s web in hard sleeper bunks. But, despite all these childhood China impressions and parental background, the book fails to satisfy any high academic research expectations. The book is more descriptive than analytical. At the same time, it does makes some serious and interesting observations about the people, political environment, and the culture, which give us a picture of the modern Chinese society.THE TRIVIAL AND THE POETIC: Superficiality of the book starts from its cover. The cover shows a long stunning pair of fish netted legs. These legs are not hers, the author points out. But a semiotic reading of this image and its signs on the cover leads one to assume that the book will not go beyond her soap opera experiences. This risqué photo on the book jacket is the most misleading cover one may have seen in forever.When one moves from the cover to the opening of the book, this impression gets more confirmed.