Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China Paperback – 7 February 2019
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- Publisher : Jonathan Cape (7 February 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 152 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1787331709
- ISBN-13 : 978-1787331709
- Item Weight : 242 g
- Dimensions : 15.4 x 1 x 21.6 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #32,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from India
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Shenzhen is sealed off by an electric fence from Hong Kong guarded day and night by soldiers maybe to stop people from escaping from their dry mundane existence in the city.
One sentence stands out and that is Guy's forceful declaration that "China is the dirtiest country in the world!" This book was written more than 15 years ago so things may have changed now :)
On the graphics, in this book his pencilwork has a bleary smudgy black quality probably reflecting his experience of staying in Shenzhen.
Overall throughly enjoyable and soon will be picking more of his books :)
His staying China is like a bouquet of ‘mini’ harmless controversies complemented with a string of funny incidents. His awkward (unintentional though) relationship with fellow animators; zero-visibility of foreigners puts him in trouble zone which eventually leads him to think what exactly the term ‘freedom’ implies. He finds it astounding when he witnesses that the entire city is guarded by soldiers. A prisoner-like situation pushes him to draw a comparison between Shenzhen and any other cities of the west.
The same looking hotel rooms across the city or the presence of top western brands makes him feel flabbergasted. His tally of astonishment accumulates when he realizes that it’s really difficult to find a kitchen knife from the market recognizing the fact that the skyline of the city is populated with topmost foreign brands. Adding to that, he is taken aback when he discovers that shopping is the main pastime for the people of Shenzhen. But as a writer, he always tries to find happiness in little things such as his visit to a dentist which he will remember for the rest of his life; popcorn making process; rules of cycling on Shenzhen streets; or when he meets a person who laughs at him hearing the word communist – instances are many but worth knowing.
His mundane life in the city puts him in the position to observe the city and its people closely. He remains bemused watching the appalling condition of public toilets, comical yet miserable life of Chinese people partnered with rapid urbanization (for example, a race to complete a 3 storied building in 3 days). All these make the city look dull and ugly. His confusion grows the moment he sees women doing hard manual work on the streets to keep the flag of ‘women liberation’ fly high. Coming to his psychological state, the monotony of regularity catches him off-guard every now and then. He is also troubled by the thoughts that he can’t write or sketch like his compatriots. The degree of boredom creeps up when he fails to start a conversation in English with someone. But that doesn’t mean he feels always low- his visit to Canton and Hong Kong or the expeditions to explore different food items takes him to different restaurants ultimately always gives him a breath of fresh air.
Like the start, the book ends with an uneventful fashion, without creating anything jazzy and bold.
As a non-fiction graphic novel, Guy carefully portrays the differences between western and eastern societies by comparing them. His fish-out-of-the-water like situation makes it a worth reading.
Top reviews from other countries
very good presentation of the life experience as usual.