Tom Carter's Unsavory Elements: On the Loose in The People’s Republic of China

932 WordsFeb 1, 20184 Pages
‘Unsavory Elements,’ a new book edited and partly written by Tom Carter, investigates the experiences of 28 foreigners ‘on the loose’ in the People’s Republic of China. A traveler and photographer, Mr Carter mixes well known names, true heavyweights and more anonymous observers of Chinese lives whose tales are connected by one single element: being an outsider in the former Middle Kingdom. The result is a highly readable, often humorous, at times brilliant book whose most remarkable trait is directness: the authors gathered by Mr Carter do not shy away from troublesome issues, nor do they sugarcoat their words. A telling example is Mr Carter’s own story, in which he details an adventure in a brothel. In another, a former American soldier turned teacher spends time openly digressing about his desire to have sexual intercourse with a female co-worker – till he notices the ring on her finger and his hopes crumble. Certainly interesting is the glimpse offered by Susie Gordon – a Shanghai-based writer and journalist – into the life of her adoptive city’s wealthy elite. While facts about the crème-de-la-crème of China’s capitalists are known, it is uncommon to come across a tale which so vividly describes the decadence of the nouveau riche. The anecdote begins with the author joining her former business partner Zhou Ning for drinks at an upscale wine bar and ends in an expensive apartment where Mr Zhou’s son – who does not work because ‘he does not need to’ – is getting high on

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