Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China and the West by Peter Hessler - review by Jonathan Mirsky

Jonathan Mirsky

The Talking Wounded

Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China and the West

By

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In March 2001 I wrote a review in these pages of Peter Hessler's River Town, about his two years (1996–98) spent up the Yangtze River in Fuling, teaching English to rural college students who were training to become teachers. Hessler, an American graduate of Princeton and Oxford, was happy and unhappy in Fuling, a small place where few people had ever seen a foreigner. But he grew to love his students, they loved him, and when his father, a reverent Roman Catholic, came for a visit, the elder Hessler and the local priest conversed in Latin. I wrote in my review, ‘I suppose I am not the only China-watcher who will wish they had written this book.’

Hessler stayed on in China, learning to be a freelance reporter and foreign correspondent (he is the only such person I know to discuss the mechanics of these crafts, including the fees), and now lives in Beijing, where he corresponds for, among others, the New Yorker. He puts that magazine's

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