Press Release: Behind the Wall
Behind the Wall
winner of the hawthornden prize
and the thomas cook travel book award
Introduced by Frank Dikötter
‘An intrepid traveller, who also writes beautifully, with wit and erudition.’
When Colin Thubron took his 10,000-mile trip across China in 1985, it
was to travel a country just emerging from its years of isolation during
the Cultural Revolution. From Beijing to the borders of Burma and from
Shanghai to the Guilin mountains, he travelled alone, by whatever local transport he could find. The result is a remarkable account of the new China, at a unique time in its history and was described by Patrick Leigh Fermor as ‘an achievement of great and lasting brilliance’.
Thubron visits the obvious attractions, summoning near-mythical
landmarks with his beautiful, almost dream-like prose. He describes the ‘commotion of sculptured dragons’ that swarm the marble of the Forbidden City, and how the Great Wall scales ‘the furthest precipices in a megalomaniac sliver’ and disappears ‘into cloud-patterned mountains’.
Alongside these popular destinations, he also ventures inside schools, abandoned monasteries, prisons and hospitals, talking and eating and even staying with the people he meets. What Thubron unearths is a China inexorably reaching for what it has been denied. In the cities, people are rushing to adopt Western ways and a mercantile tradition is re-emerging; the streets are filled with photography studios and beauty parlours,
the roads pressed with lorries disgorging Hitachi televisions and Phillips cassette recorders.
This edition from The Folio Society is illustrated with a frontispiece and 24 pages of newly researched colour plates, featuring many fascinating images of China in the 1980s. Frank Dikötter, a leading authority on modern China, has provided an engrossing introduction that explores the context of Thubron’s travels in light of recent history.
Quarter-bound in blocked buckram with printed paper sides. Set in Adobe Garamond.
376 pages. Frontispiece and 24 pages of colour plates.
1 integrated map. 9½˝ x 6¾˝.
UK £39.95 US $64.95 Can $82.95 Aus $82.95
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