Talk to Me: Hessler's Treks Through China

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peter Hessler, a former Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, spent years in China before he decided to get a driver’s license. Then, license in hand, Hessler planned a road trip that followed the Great Wall. His new book, Country Driving: a Journey through China from Farm to Factory, is a memoir about his extended trip.

Hessler spoke with Emily Parker, a fellow at the Center on U.S.-China Relations, about the experience at an event for The Asia Society.

Stream and download the talk here for free.

Bon Mots

On Cops in China:
"You never see highway patrolmen, or police. There’s nobody monitoring the roads…and in Inner Mongolia their solution to this was to put statues of cops along the road, I guess to sort of inspire people to drive better."

On First Moving to China: "I felt just overwhelmed by trying to learn the language and... how things worked. Then, once I got a foothold, I realized that Chinese people often feel the same way, not as lost as me, but they have a lot of stuff they have to figure out. It’s a new country for them as well."

On Factory Towns: "This was a place where people are very open. They were open because they were all outsiders."

Produced by:

Miranda Shafer


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About Talk to Me

Talk to Me brings you downloadable readings and conversations with writers, artists, and scholars – from author Joshua Ferris to choreographer Mark Morris to poet Sharon Olds – recorded at cultural institutions in New York City and beyond. Stream, download, or subscribe to the full-length podcasts here.


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