No Big Surprise Here [A Review]

Little Emperors and Material Girls by Jemimah Steinfeld

jemimah steinfeld

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This is a book about China’s youth today, and it claims to change the way you see China. Well, it didn’t change mine, because I didn’t find any big surprise in there.

But maybe it’s because I already have a good sense of the Chinese culture, history and the country’s recent developments, be it through literature, the media, my own heritage or my interactions with young Chinese. So my view about the accuracy of that sub-title’s claim may not be entirely fair, if it had indeed been intended for an audience unfamiliar with the Chinese society. Perhaps what I can say is that the book’s portrayal of the youth in China today seems to corroborate with some of what I have seen, heard or read about.

VERDICT: This book offers a few insights into the lifestyle and mindset of youths in China today, if you have only been following the country’s economic development and neglected the social aspects. If you are already familiar with what’s happening in the Chinese society, the book will not do much for you. Regardless of which end you’re inclined towards, I’d caution that Steinfeld has highlighted but a few personal stories which she thinks are representative of the segment she has researched on. Therein lies the danger of one adopting a generalized view of Chinese youths based on Steinfeld’s interview anecdotes, because reliable public data is sorely missing – something which I do not blame the author for.



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