Faced with choking smog, chaotic traffic and locals who have a penchant for public spitting, Gary Finnegan finds himself in the world's fastest changing city. His attempts to adjust to an altogether alien culture make for an often hilarious travelogue, peppered with fascinating insights into Chinese history and its transforming society. From Chairman Mao to the recent surge in IVF and plastic surgery clinics, Finnegan attempts to understand modern China and learns a little about himself along way. However, he begins with more questions than answers:Can he survive without Western comforts? Is the new consumerist China still communist?And why are people calling him Big Nose?
As the attention of the world focuses on China, Beijing for Beginners is ideal for anyone curious about the most populous nation on earth, and the weird and wonderful things on offer for a foreigner grappling with serious culture shock.
'A blend of wry humour, shart-witted analysis and regular travelogue"
Gerry McCarthy, 'Culture', The Sunday Times
Beijing for Beginners is a wonderful surprise. At a time when there is so much focus on China as a growing superpower, Finnegan brings the place alive with all its strange flavours and colours and, most importantly, tells us exactly what its like to be a foreigner living there. Well worth reading.
Eamon Delaney, editor of Magill and author of An Accidental Diplomat Gary
Finnegans Irish eye catches the bizarre and the beautiful in Beijing. From eating caterpillars on a stick, to the Little Emperors of the one child policy, he explains whats old and whats new in a city changing faster than you can spit on the street.
Carole Coleman, author of Alleluia America: An Irish Journalist in Bush Country
Extract from Beijing for Beginners:
I hand over my entrance form to a young but tough-looking official. First time in China Yes. Push green button. The front of the desk has four buttons lighting up. Two green, two red. The first green one says very satisfied and has a picture of a very happy face. The second says satisfied with a slightly less ecstatic, but still moderately content smiley face. The third button is red. It reads not satisfied and the face looks somewhat downbeat. The last option is a miserable-looking very dissatisfied. Above the range of smileys is a question: How satisfied are you with the welcome you received in Beijing? "Eh ... Ill be teaching at a ..." "Push green button!" I push the green button, the one with the smiliest face of all. And that's that. I'm in. No doubt there'll be a news story at the end of the year claiming 99% of tourists are delighted with the reception they get in China. There is no fifth option saying airport is nice, but do something about the spitting.
About the Author
Gary Finnegan is an award-winning journalist and former magazine editor currently living and working in Beijing. He has been a contributor and columnist to Irish newspapers and magazines, as well as making regular appearances on national and local radio and television including Newstalk, The Last Word on Today FM, TV3s Ireland AM and The Late Late Show. This is his first book.
- Additional Information
Author Finnegan, Gary Editor No Print Format Paperback ISBN-10 1905785445 ISBN-13 978-1-905785-44-5 Illustrations Full Colour Date of Publication June 2009 Number of Pages 260