Welcome to China in 1985, to a nation that has just begun to swing open for the West, and specifically for a young Time magazine journalist named Pico Iyer. From the beloved set of travel essays Video Night in Kathmandu, this is his dispatch.
From Beijing to Chengdu to Guangzhou, Iyer crisscrosses the country, making friends, gathering impressions, and always getting to the train station early (very early). Along the way he encounters a China eager to take in Western goods, but not always Western values—and a Great Wall, established to keep the world out, that’s now being used to draw it in. Neither Easterner nor Westerner knows where to turn. With frank curiosity and prophetic clarity, Iyer’s travel essays have become the gold standard for the genre. Here he gives us a time capsule of an ambiguous and fast-changing China that remains strikingly familiar even today.
PICO IYER is the author of eight works of nonfiction and two novels. A writer for Time since 1982, he is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, and many other magazines and… More about Pico Iyer