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February 9, 2011

Peter Hessler

Peter Hessler discusses Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip


Harvard Book Store is glad to welcome The New Yorker's longtime Beijing correspondent PETER HESSLER  as he discusses his latest exploration of everyday life in China, Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip, newly out in paperback.

In the summer of 2001, Peter Hessler acquired his Chinese driver's license. For the next seven years, he traveled the country, tracking how the automobile and improved roads were transforming China. Hessler writes movingly of the average people—farmers, migrant workers, entrepreneurs—who have reshaped the nation during one of the most critical periods in its modern history.

Country Driving begins with Hessler's 7,000-mile trip across northern China, following the Great Wall, from the East China Sea to the Tibetan plateau. He investigates a historically important rural region being abandoned, as young people migrate to jobs in the southeast. Next Hessler spends six years in Sancha, a small farming village in the mountains north of Beijing, which changes dramatically after the local road is paved and the capital's auto boom brings new tourism. Finally, he turns his attention to urban China, researching development over a period of more than two years in Lishui, a small southeastern city where officials hope that a new government-built expressway will transform a farm region into a major industrial center.

" a keen observer of...mind-catching details and an engaging storyteller. Broken into three sections, Country Driving offers a ground-level mosaic of life amid the nation’s transition into a modern economic and political powerhouse.... 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 Boston Globe

About Author(s)

Peter Hessler is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the Beijing correspondent from 2000 to 2007, and is also a contributing writer for National Geographic. He is the author of River Town, which won the Kiriyama Book Prize, and Oracle Bones, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He won the 2008 National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting.