Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lost on Planet China

I enjoyed Maarten Troost's books on living as an expat on various Pacific islands, so I naturally gravitated to his new book, Lost on Planet China (2008), wherein he explores China for several months with a view toward possibly moving there for a few years with his young family. He decides not to, at least in part because of the extreme pollution. Environmental wreckage is a running theme of this book, and I have to say it made me less interested in visiting China rather than more. I get sleepy, itchy-eyed, and sore-throated during our rare stagnant air advisories in Seattle, so I don't like to think of trying to breathe in Beijing.

Troost doesn't stay in any one place long enough to get a strong feel for it, but I walked away from the book with an overwhelming sense of a place that's at once totalitarian (with government censorship of information such as just how lethally bad the air is) and on a practical, everyday level, anarchic.

2 comments:

Sara said...

I loved his other books, but didn't know this one existed. Thanks! Off to place a hold...

Susan Wilbanks said...

It's a bit different in tone from his earlier books, but it's a good read.