A Bend in the Yellow River

Justin Hill was only twenty-one when he arrived starry-eyed in Yuncheng, central China, a small town hidden among the plains of dusty Shanxi province. He was greeted by a place and people designed to shatter the most tightly held of illusions about the glories of Chinese tradition and culture: an ugly grimy town where spitting in public was encouraged and queuing was anathema, where the local TV output consisted of nightly readings of the works of Deng Xiao Ping interspersed with NBA basketball games. But after two years teaching Yuncheng’s inhabitants he emerged knowing that nowhere was more authentically Chinese than this outpost nestling in the bend of the Yellow River, battling the contradictions of past and future with robust good humour.

A Bend in the Yellow River is a sympathetic and intelligent portrait of a once-great civilisation in turmoil – embracing the ideals of a market economy, but unable, or unwilling to jettison the past; of the effects of the Cultural Revoloution, which left a large section of the population deprived of an education, of the devastation of the one-child policy. Witty, quirky and touching, this is a stunning view of another way of life.’

‘A lively and gifted writer…a cheerful narrative seasoned with amazement’ Times Literary Supplement

‘A rattling good story of hilarious cultural misunderstandings…a first class introduction to contempary China, recounted with good humour and refreshingly free of political lectures’ Mail on Sunday