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I think this is a very poorly written book. It is full of juvenile 'descriptive' vocabulary choices ('azure' skies and people 'roaring' with laughter), annoying stereotypes ('like German, Chinese is a harsh-sounding language'; the 'stunning platinum blonde'), and, mostly condescendingly, neo-Christian missionary propaganda ('it only takes a spark to get a fire burning'). Inordinate numbers of pages are devoted to describing trite events such as a crokinole tournament, the reason being that the author is so removed from any real engagement with China that he has no choice but to constantly refer to his insulated expat world to fill pages. Portrayals of cross-cultural relationships are superficial, dull to read, and at times irresponsibly inaccurate. In one part of the book he portrays Mr. Wang, the greedy leader of the Chinese administration 'yelling' at a Canadian staff member for not wearing a tie. This would never happen in real life, but it makes readers think it would. Cheap exaggerations of Williams' real-life experiences reflect a lack of narrative substance, and I would even say damage his credibility as a source for giving outsiders a view of life in China. Though he claims the book to be a work of fiction, it is very much a fact-based work with thinly veiled references not only to an actual school, but also to real people. Why not just publish your actual diary, Jim? That would've been more compelling. Overall, a complete mess of a book.
What a piece of literary trash. Just shows the standard of ubco's masters program that this is accepted as a major project. I laughed out loud many times and it had nothing to do with wit or intended humour. Got my mom to read it as well..let's just say she doesn't know how it ended. Pure rubbish.
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