Sensitive, fascinating reports.




Novelistic anecdotes reveal Chinese young people struggling with universal themes of education, employment, and love.

In alternating chapters, Beijing-based British journalist Ash (co-editor: While We're Here: China Stories from a Writers' Colony, 2016) pursues the mostly unglamorous, daily slogs of six young Chinese, born from 1985 to 1990, and how, as the single-child generation, they are making their ways in the new China. Initially, readers must work to remember which character is which, and some have English nicknames. There is art student Xiaoxiao, from the northernmost Heilongjiang province; academically gifted Fred, the daughter of Communist party apparatchiks in China’s far south island, Hainan; gaming addict Snail, from Anhui province; Dahai, from Wuhan, who was forced to study computer science and settled for a stable team-leader position building a tunnel under Beijing; Mia, a rebel who scored a stylist job at the Chinese edition of Harper’s Bazaar; and Lucifer, who scraped by at Peking University and only wanted to be a rock star. Each dreamed of the good life, undergoing the rigorous exams for university and attending college and then joining the massive work force as “just another worker ant.” Some, like Snail and Dahai, discovered power in venting on the internet (“reposting is power”). Lucifer found gratification in joining bands and screaming English lyrics, and Mia delved into the fashionista club scene. Forced to live frugally, Snail inhabited one of the tiny spaces in the basements of cheap apartment blocks on the outskirts of the city, living with other members of the underclass called the “rat tribe.” Fred, a graduate student in politics, did a year abroad at Cornell University; while she was intrigued by the American way, she was not tempted to stay. By their late 20s, all young people are expected to get married; a few of Ash’s subjects obliged, to enormous cost and fanfare by their delighted parents. Ultimately, the author eloquently delineates the dreams and disappointments of young Chinese.

Sensitive, fascinating reports.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62872-764-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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