Street of Eternal Happiness
Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road
By Rob Schmitz
A timely and engaging look at the new China told through the stories of its ordinary people.
'Enjoyable and illuminating . . . Rob Schmitz writes with great affection' Guardian
Shanghai: a global city in the midst of a renaissance, where dreamers arrive each day to partake in a mad torrent of capital, ideas and opportunity. Rob Schmitz is one of them. He immerses himself in his neighbourhood, forging relationships with ordinary people who see a brighter future in the city's sleek skyline. There's Zhao, whose path from factory floor to shopkeeper is sidetracked by her desperate measures to ensure a better future for her sons. Down the street lives Auntie Fu, a fervent capitalist forever trying to improve herself while keeping her sceptical husband at bay. Up a flight of stairs, CK sets up shop to attract young dreamers like himself, but learns he's searching for something more. As Schmitz becomes increasingly involved in their lives, he makes surprising discoveries which untangle the complexities of modern China: a mysterious box of letters that serve as a portal to a family's - and country's - dark past, and an abandoned neighbourhood where fates have been violently altered by unchecked power and greed.
A tale of twenty-first-century China, Street of Eternal Happiness profiles China's distinct generations through multifaceted characters who illuminate an enlightening, humorous and, at times, heartrending journey along the winding road to the Chinese dream. Each story adds another layer of humanity to modern China, a tapestry also woven with Schmitz's insight as a foreign correspondent. The result is an intimate and surprising portrait that dispenses with the tired stereotypes of a country we think we know, immersing us instead in the vivid stories of the people who make up one of the world's most captivating cities.
Rob Schmitz is the Shanghai correspondent for National Public Radio. Previously he was the China correspondent for American Public Media's Marketplace. He has reported on a range of topics illustrating China's role in the global economy including trade, politics, the environment, education, and labor. In 2012, Schmitz exposed fabrications in Mike Daisey's account of Apple's Chinese supply chain on This American Life, and his report headlined that show's much-discussed "Retraction" episode. The work was a finalist for the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. He has won two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and an award from the Education Writers Association for his reporting on China. Schmitz first arrived in China in 1996 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Sichuan province. This is his first book.
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- Publication date:
12 Jan 2017
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Enjoyable and illuminating . . . Rob Schmitz writes with great affection — Guardian
A poignant microcosm . . . coursing under even the bleakest stories is a sense of optimism that tomorrow will be better — The Economist
A marvel of place-based reporting — Peter Hessler, author of River Town
All great cities have a great book that captures their rise or fall; Street of Eternal Happiness is Shanghai's — Michael Meyer, author of In Manchuria
In this intimate and revealing book, a two-mile stretch of road embodies the dreams and dramas of modern China — Leslie T. Chang, author of Factory Girls
Years from now people will turn to [Street of Eternal Happiness] to understand the China of this era — James Fallows
Poignant [and] enjoyable . . . Schmitz's eye for scenes and ear for dialogue give an immediacy to his stories that more expository works often lack — Adam Rose, New York Times Book Review
Rob Schmitz has given us a treasure: a patient portrait of an impatient country, a China that is utterly true to life in its beauty and heartache, tenderness and greed. His story is told in real lives that are, like Shanghai itself, modern and imperfect, romantic and ruthlessly practical. Reading this is as close as most people will come to living there — Evan Osnos, National Book Award winning author of Age of Ambition
Educational and entertaining, engaged and dispassionate . . . Readers on closing his book, will feel much wiser about China and the Chinese than when they started — Daily Telegraph