Today, Peter HesslerCountry Driving: A Journey Through China From Farm to Factory." In the feature story/interview, Hessler talked about some of the main themes and characters of his soon-to-be released book:
I'm really looking forward to reading Country Driving. Hessler's first book, River Town, should be required reading for anyone remotely interested in China.
Today, China is the world's largest producer and consumer of automobiles — about a thousand new drivers register each day in Beijing alone.
Back in 2001, just as China's auto boom was beginning, New Yorker writer Peter Hessler decided to join the masses and apply for a driver's license himself. He spent the next seven years driving around China to see how the car was transforming the country.
His new book, Country Driving, details his observations from the road. It begins with his 7,000-mile road trip, following the Great Wall across northern China.
"Along the way, I would stop in villages, and ... it was really sort of sad because so many of these places are losing population to the south," Hessler tells NPR's Melissa Block. "This is basically the story of today's China ... that you have an estimated 140 million people who have left the countryside to work in factory towns, work on construction crews. Often the only people you see are very old people who no longer work, or the children, the youngest people who are still too young to go out and find jobs."
In addition to this good story on Hessler, NPR also had a nice (if not a bit scathing) story on Shanghai and the coming 2010 World Expo. It too is worth a listen.