Many books describe the experiences of an American traveler in China, and still others describe the experiences of Chinese in their native country. But this book is unique. It is a nonfiction love story, not a travelogue--an East-West romance that focuses on the lovers' responses to absurd bureaucratic challenges during an otherwise idyllic courtship. After the first part, narrated by the American, the authors alternate rather than merge their viewpoints in a single voice. They tell their story from the different perspectives of a Western man and a Chinese woman. As they work through their cultural differences and the obstacles frustrating their desire to marry, the two storytellers mature. Novelists have traced teenagers coming of age, but here is a nonfiction account of growth achieved by a middle-aged couple. They learn from each other, from their allies in Beijing, even from the bureaucrats, as they move toward an emotional and sexual climax. This memoir has a fictional shape!
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January 31, 2005
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