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 fifteen books, translated into twenty-three languages, and has been a constant contributor for more than thirty years to Time, The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and more than 250 other periodicals worldwide. His four recent… More about Pico Iyer