China has risen from developing nation status to second place in the global GDP rankings in just a decade. The resulting improved living standards and greater spending by Chinese consumers has proven a tremendous opportunity for both local Chinese and global brands. These developments were also a shock to China’s system as its own citizens sometimes struggled to keep up with the pace. Just who are Chinese consumers? What are their lives like and what are they looking for? These are the questions China’s Evolving Consumers attempts to answer. It does so, and with some success, by lifting the lid on other aspects of their lives.
Rao Pingru and Mao Meitang married in Nanchang in 1948, when China was still dominated by rhythms and rituals lingering from imperial days. They stayed married through the Mao years, despite being separated for over two decades; in 1958, Pingru, was sent off for “Reeducation Through Labor”. His crime? He’d once served in the Kuomintang army. Their marriage ended in 2008, with Meitang’s death from kidney failure.
Ha Jin may be known for his award-winning fiction, in particular Waiting which won the National Book Award for Fiction (1999) and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (2000), but his poetry collection is an ambitious and original volume that explores the irreplaceable significance of home, the honesty of writing, and the language for freedom.
Russia is once again much in the news, although the focus has been mostly westward-looking with the occasional southerly diversion to the Middle East. It’s worth remembered that Russia is the only major power other than the US which straddles a continent, giving it a physical presence that faces east as well as west. Here is an overview of some the books we have reviewed which cover Russia and East Asia.
A City Mismanaged is policy analysis as blood sport. Leo Goodstadt needs no introduction in Hong Kong circles; those outside might need to know that he was head of the pre-Handover Hong Kong government’s Central Policy Unit from 1989-1997. He has penned a no-holds-barred smackdown of the four post-colonial Hong Kong administrations.
Opera travels well. Its stories are the stories of our collective humanity—love, loss, revenge, strife, rebellion, rejuvenation, absurdity, tragedy—and its archetypes not only define cultures but also connect them. In many respects, we can no longer speak in essentializing ways about Western opera or Chinese opera, but rather must address the world of opera and global operatic voices.
Anton Chekhov, it appears, was not the first Russian literary luminary to visit Hong Kong. Chekhov had stopped off in October 1890 and wrote about its “wonderful bay”. English-language literature had to wait until Somerset Maugham came through more than a quarter-century later. But Chekhov was beaten to the punch by Ivan Goncharov who stopped by in 1853.