Saturday, February 27, 2010

The New York Times Book Review joins the chorus of great reviews of COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler

“Revelations occur on a daily basis” in the People’s Republic, Hessler confides. But “one of the most important discoveries is the fact that the Chinese share this sensation. The place changes too fast; nobody can afford to be overconfident in his knowledge, and there’s always some new situation to figure out.”

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jonathan Yardley calls Peter Hessler's COUNTRY DRIVING "an absolutely terrific book" in The Washington Post

"It's an absolutely terrific book, at once highly entertaining (his accounts of the driver's test and of how the Chinese act on the road are often hilarious) and deeply instructive, as he paints a portrait of a country in the midst of change so widespread and profound that it can scarcely be grasped." ... "He has a highly developed taste for oddness, incongruity and just plain weirdness, all of which he describes with not a scintilla of condescension. "Country Driving" is a wonderful book about China that also happens to be a terrific book about the human race."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Road Trippin' in China: Ben Crair of The Daily Beast speaks with Peter Hessler about COUNTRY DRIVING

The Chinese have taken to the road in huge numbers, Peter Hessler reports in his new memoir about his own road trips through the country. He spoke to The Daily Beast about the largest migration in history

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

AMERICAN CHINATOWN by Bonnie Tsui wins 2009 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association, has selected AMERICAN CHINATOWN: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods as the winner of its 2009 Adult Non-Fiction Award. Bonnie Tsui's site is here.

Evan Osnos of The New Yorker calls AMERICAN CHINATOWN:  “A wonderfully revealing and compassionate trip into the real lives of men and women who straddle the world’s two great powers… Tsui plunges into Chinatowns that are, like China itself, reinventing themselves before our eyes, showing not only to what it means to be Chinese in the world, but also the spirit of self-invention that made America great.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jim Meehan Salutes Gaz Regan in The Platinum Age of the Cocktail in GQ

In his third bi-monthly column for the magazine's Forked and Corked section, Jim writes about being invited to Regan's legendary cocktail summer camp in Cornwall on Hudson, New York, as he continues telling the stories behind the drinks, people and places of the Platinum Age of the Cocktail.

To Jim, "a cocktail is a window. Sociology, history, psychology, biology, chemistry, literature and mathematics: they're all there if you take a closer look." Read his other GQ columns here.

Dwight Garner of The New York Times reviews COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler

In his review titled "Feeling at Sea on the Roads of New China," the Times' critic writes:  "...the reporting in “Country Driving” is impressive in its scope. This book contains dozens of characters and multiple set-pieces and subplots. Along the way Mr. Hessler delivers eloquent disquisitions on everything from how to buy a used car in China and what hospital stays are like to the history of the Mongol conquest and the pros and cons of the Great Wall as a defensive structure." 

... "Mr. Hessler is an impeccable compiler of facts, in the John McPhee Eagle Scout mold, and he lays these facts out elegantly." 

... "... like the quiet kid in the back of the classroom who ultimately becomes the best man at your wedding, Mr. Hessler, with his good-naturedness and tact, grows on you. So does his sly humor, which accumulates slowly, like the toothsome crust at the bottom of a rice pot." 

... "“Country Driving” is most affecting in its portrayal of lives ripped up at the roots, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. He describes the “hollow feeling” many Chinese have, because rapid change has left them exhausted and uncertain." 

... "Peter Hessler is a fine tour guide for the new China, a writer who is capable of tossing aside the country’s (deplorable) maps and admitting: “In China, it’s not such a terrible thing to be lost, because nobody else knows exactly where they’re going, either.”"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In "China's Long, Strange Road Trip" Wall Street Journal reviews Peter Hessler's COUNTRY DRIVING

..."Mr. Hessler's genius has always been in his wry commentary and ability to transcribe the rhythms of his environment onto the page. As his various rented cars receive beatings from unpaved roads, the pace of change remains the only constant. Revisiting a town means learning new landmarks: "It occurred to me that only in China could you visit a mountain and then, two years later, find it replaced by something called the Renli Environmental Protection Co., Ltd."."

WorldHum's Frank Bures asks Peter Hessler about COUNTRY DRIVING

"You write that in China your learning curve never flattened out, because “China is the kind of country where you constantly discover something new, and revelations occur on a daily basis. One of the most important discoveries is the fact that the Chinese share this sensation. The place changes too fast ... We were all out of place; nobody has today’s China figured out.” I found that interesting. As a writer, I imagine there’s some advantage in that."

"I suppose that’s why I stayed for more than a decade and wrote a set of three books. I felt like I could undertake these big projects without repeating myself. Some of it was simply the size and range of the country, but it was also the issue of change that you mentioned."

Irish Times on COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler: Car trips around China turn up myths, dying villages and can-do entrepreneurs

"OF ALL the terrifying experiences of travelling in the east, there are few to beat the long-distance high- altitude bus journey in rural China. Peter Hessler, in his lucid and intelligent road trip of China, explains why: bus drivers never own their buses, and pay depends upon a percentage of ticket sales. "

Monday, February 15, 2010

bookforum's Jonathan Taylor reviews COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler

..."But longtime New Yorker writer Peter Hessler has always balanced his observations of China's peculiarities with a sense that the Western world is pretty strange, too." ... "Hessler doesn't interpret China, rather, he lets his one-on-one experiences suggest its multitude of possibilities. The result is a book about China that the Chinese could learn from at least as much as Americans—were they were permitted to read it."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Minnesota Public Radio's Euan Kerr speaks to Peter Hessler about COUNTRY DRIVING

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Boston Globe reviews COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler

Michael Kinney closes with: "Full of exotic detail, solid reporting, and ironic observation, “Country Driving’’ offers a personal snapshot of the world’s second superpower hurtling through the 21st century."

The Princeton Alumni Weekly reviews it here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Future of China: The Huffington Post's Elizabeth Lynch Interviews Peter Hessler

"While Oracle Bones showed a China dealing with the ghosts of its past, Country Driving shows a China wrestling with the demons of its own development. If you want to understand today's China, and the forces changing it, you need to read  Country Driving.

[Elizabeth Lynch] sat down with Hessler to discuss his new book and his thoughts on China -- its problems, its future, its people. How have things changed? How have the people responded? What is the impact of rule of law in China? Is China the overwhelming power that the West currently makes it out to be?"

To listen to the full interview, click here.

WNYC's Leonard Lopate Interviews Peter Hessler about COUNTRY DRIVING

Monday, February 8, 2010

NPR's All Things Considered Interviews Peter Hessler about COUNTRY DRIVING

"Pretty much every little thing that we're buying, even the pieces of things -- to somebody in China, that is an entire world of ambition and competition, of risk and opportunity."

More Events with Antonino D'Ambrosio, author of A HEARTBEAT AND A GUITAR: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears

-Monday, February 8th at 7:30: 
Greenlight Books, Ft. Greene, Brooklyn

Other upcoming events:
SXSW (with Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Martin Perna of Antibalas, and other special guests).
March 14-20 (4 Heartbeat Performances)

-Tuesday, March 2nd at 7:30: Bookcourt 
Carrol Gardens/Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

-March 6th at 3PM, Long Island City
Presentation of the entire Bitter Tears album with musician Anthony Rizzo and special guests

-Philadelphia Book Festival
Saturday, April 17th, 3PM

Check out all the latest at For the latest on Let Fury Have the Hour go to

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Peter Hessler Appearances for COUNTRY DRIVING (Book Tour)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010
6:30 PM 7:45 PM
725 Park Ave. @ 70th St
New York, NY 10021

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
7:00 PM 8:00 PM
5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

Friday, February 12, 2010
7:00 PM 8:00 PM
3216 W Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55416

Tuesday, February 16th
11 AM 12:30 PM
UC Irvine
1030 Humanities Gateway

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
4:15 PM 5:30 PM
Pomona College
Hahn Building
420 Harvard Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711

Thursday, February 18, 2010
7:00 PM 8:00 PM
80 W Portal Ave
San Francisco, CA 94127

Friday, February 19, 2010
7:00 PM 8:00 PM
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
5:45 PM 7:00 PM
(Joint event with Leslie T. Chang)
University of San Francisco
USF Lone Mountain Campus, Room 100

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
7:00 PM 8:00 PM
101 S Main St
Seattle, WA 98104

Thursday, February 25, 2010
12:00 PM 1:00 PM
990 102nd Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98004

Thursday, February 25, 2010
7:00 PM 8:00 PM
17171 Bothell Way N.E.
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

Sunday, February 28, 2010
2:00 PM 3:00 PM
100 W Broadway
Columbia, MO 65203

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Asia Society Texas Center
STE 205
4605 Post Oak Place

Wednesday, March 03, 2010
7:30 8:30 PM
1628 16th St.
Denver, CO 80202

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Read "Restless Spirits" by Peter Hessler in National Geographic

"More than 5,000 years ago, the cultures of northern China were venerating the dead through highly systemized ceremonies. Echoes of these traditions still survive today, and during my first year in the village, when the holiday came around, I accompanied my neighbors on their ritual journey to the cemetery."