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Chaos and Grime

A Year in the Life of a Chinese City
by Jacob Acerbi  US United States

December 2, 2020   |    606 reads    |   0 comments

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Chaos and Grime - Book cover

An evocative portrait of a troubled soul in a bewildering land.


The riveting true story of the transformation of a Chinese city and an American who finds himself stranded there.

A detailed chronicle of everyday life in modern China, a window into the lives of Chinese peasants and the foreigners with whom they fall in and out of romance, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Chaos and Grime: A Year in the Life of a Chinese City takes you where no memoir has dared to go before now. This "shocking," "disturbing," and "Kafkaesque" real-life thriller pulls no punches in painting a complex portrait of contemporary China.

Jim is a young American scholar. In the summer he arrives in Wuhan, the heart of China on the Yangtze River. In this world of cement and corruption, of fraud and fickle women, his initial optimism gives way to a poignant series of devastating revelations about what really happens to China’s “leftover women” and how the authorities stop at nothing to try to prevent such knowledge from getting out.

An intensely personal story of understanding and connection, as well as an illumination of power relations in a society in flux, Chaos and Grime captures in exquisite detail the lives of those caught up in the currents of history as it occurs here and now.

"This book should be required reading in Asian studies classes in colleges all over the United States."



Author's Note: 

Welcome to Wuhan, where mayhem rules. A hidden romance between a Chinese peasant and an American scholar threatens to uncover a dark secret. A true story.

Seven years before the Chinese city of Wuhan exploded onto the world stage, Jim, an American scholar, ventured there. Over the course of a year he chronicled, in minute detail, the challenges that he faced, as well as the poignant personal stories of the friends and enemies that he made. The centerpiece of this novel-like memoir is a real-life love triangle that threatens the lives of both men and seals the fate of a mysterious peasant "leftover woman" forever.

Professor Sheeftahova, who calls the book "a great work of literature," writes in the foreword, "Jacob Acerbi’s Chaos and Grime walks its unconventional balancing act between disparate cultures, between mutual unintelligibility and mutual connection, between chaos and order, and between the grime of real life and the aspirations of idealism."


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