Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China
The youth are the generation that will change China. There are over 320 million in their teens and twenties, more than the population of the USA. Born after Mao, natives of a nation on the rise, they are destined to have an unprecedented influence on global affairs. These millennials, offspring of the only child policy, face fierce competition and pressure to succeed. Dislocated from their country's tumultuous past, they are caught between tradition and modernity. Their struggles are also the same as those of young people all over the world: moving out of home, starting a career, falling in love. Wish Lanterns tells the stories of six young Chinese. Dahai is a military child and a rebel; 'Fred' is a daughter of the Party. Lucifer is an aspiring superstar; Snail a country migrant addicted to online gaming. Xiaoxiao is a hipster from the freezing north; and Mia a skinhead fashionista from Xinjiang in the far west. Alec Ash, a writer in Beijing of the same generation, has given us a vivid, gripping account of young China as it comes of age. Through individual lives, Wish Lanterns shows with empathy and insight the conflicts and challenges, dreams and wishes of China's - and the world's - future. It is a vibrant and intimate book, for readers of Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy.
An agenda-changing account of what it means to be young in modern China.
A gem of a book. Its brief chapters flow like a skillfully crafted set of interconnected short stories, yet all are rooted in the real life experiences of six individuals. An impressive debut book by a writer to watch, who makes the most of all he learned while spending his twenties coming of age in the same shapeshifting China as the half dozen Chinese youths whose varied passages to adulthood he chronicles so elegantly and empathetically. -- Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of China in the 21st Century
Alec Ash is a writer and journalist in Beijing. He studied English literature at Oxford University. After graduating he taught in a Tibetan village in western China for a summer, before moving to Beijing in 2008. His articles have been published in The Economist, Prospect, Dissent and Foreign Policy among others. He is a correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books, a contributing author to the book of reportage Chinese Characters, and founder of the Anthill, a writers' colony of stories from China. Twitter: @alecash