Very well done travelogue around China. A perfect counterpoint to Salzman’s Iron & Silk. Salzman stayed in one spot for his sojourn in China; Seth, although he spent two years at Nanjing University, here is concerned with an impromptu hitchhiking trip through western China and Tibet. Seth isn’t afraid to put some dangerous questions to his hosts and fellow travelers–questions about the cultural revolution and Red Guard, how life is now under the communists compared with before, could Tibet be a separate country once more? But the best thing about this book is Seth’s viewpoint: an Indian writing about China and Tibet for an English/American audience. He takes the time to ruminate on the relations between the countries and the conditions in each country. In particular, his comparison of the living conditions of the poor and aged in China (cared for, if not greatly) and India (left destitute) was eye-opening.

[Finished 3 April 1993]


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