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Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams…

Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road (edition 2017)

by Rob Schmitz (Author)

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Title:Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road
Authors:Rob Schmitz (Author)
Info:Broadway Books (2017), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road by Rob Schmitz



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An American journalist tells the stories of families who live in his street in Shanghai. ( )
  poetreegirl | Dec 13, 2018 |
The Street of Eternal Happiness provides its readers of various snapshots in 21st China. The writer and the narrator of our novel tells the stories of different people from all walks of life while giving a detailed background of Chinese history and events.

To be honest, sometimes I felt a bit overwhelmed while reading this book. Far too much information, in too little time was being thrown at me. While I was trying to focus on the stories of the people Schmitz profiles in his book, I felt like all these events in Chinese history and etc. were being force-fed to me. This problem doesn’t occur in every single chapter of the book, but I still felt this caused the writing to feel a bit disjointed at times.

I appreciated that Schmitz puts a lot of effort in telling the “Street of Eternal Happiness” residents’ stories. He manages to translate their tales very well, especially since he speaks Chinese, and lets the readers hear their own voices. From the story of CK who overcomes many obstacles, to Old Chen’s constant fight for his home at Maggie Lane which has virtually been destroyed, and even Zhao who builds her own business to provide for her two sons, all of the people in the book manage to find some happiness in their life. The main theme that comes across is that you can find happiness in the smallest of places.

I also learned more about China through reading this book. It delves into the issue of China’s rigid structure and how that it’s a country that wants to advance, but doesn’t want to dispose of its old foundations. Some of the many things I thought that were interesting was the practice of “hukou” which ties Chinese families to their hometown, the concept of “gaokao” where if one studies hard enough they take control of their family’s destiny, and the history of migrant workers. The book manages to teach readers about many aspects of Chinese culture that they might be unfamiliar with.

Overall, this is quite a heavy book. I thought it would be a bit more lighthearted, but I guess I should have paid more attention its synopsis. I wasn’t in the reading mood for a heavy themed book so at the time I read this I think I couldn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. But it is still was an intriguing and informative read. ( )
  Rlmoulde | Nov 25, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is an examination of a specific neighborhood in Shanghai, using the residents, the history, and the author's day to day life to paint a broader picture of China throughout the course of the last 70 years. With the access and freedom granted a foreign journalist, Schmitz is able to get candid and personal stories from his neighbors and their associates. This individual tales serve to add a distinct and identifiable human element to the grand sweep of modern Chinese history. The narratives memories of the interviewees is the strength of the book as is Schmitz's curiosity as it opens several doors and provides a much more personable work. Schmitz also does a decent job staying as objective as possible and there was little attempt to use the less than ideal history of the figures in the book to satisfy pre-existing notions about China or conform to an agenda. That being said, despite Schmitz's impressive language skills, the books is still written the eyes of a Western journalist. This is a strength as mentioned previously but can also be seen as an impediment as the lack of personal connection to the people, the land, and the history can detach the writer from a clear direction or goal.

This is a strong book that does a good job illustrating the modern history of China through the life stories of some of its citizens. Compelling, confusing, frustrating, and more, the book is entertaining but perhaps not as focused or informative as it set out to be. ( )
  loafhunter13 | May 30, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book shows us modern China in a way that few people ever experience. Schmitz writes of his personal experience as a Chinese resident and of the beauty of old Shanghai and how the modernization of China is destroying entire neighborhoods and communities that have existed for hundreds of years. Schmitz also provides effective understanding of how the Cultural Revolution effects China even today and how issues such as the One Child Policy have effected Chinese society. Overll an excellent read ( )
  arelenriel | May 14, 2017 |
Fascinating and sobering account of modern China as seen through the eyes of some of its residents. Schmitz is an intelligent, sympathetic observer who does his best to let his neighbors speak for themselves even as he explicates the illogic, doublespeak and corruption that are part of dealing with life under Chinese Communism. Though the characters are mostly optimistic about their futures, I was struck over and over again by how much damage Mao and his subordinates did to their citizens, whether through overtly repressive polices and actions, such as the Cultural Revolution, or through more subtle conditioning. (The story of one woman who keeps getting suckered by con men is particularly disturbing; her gullible behavior is a direct result of her being taught to respect authority instead of thinking for herself.) Mostly, I was left thankful that my mother's family left the mainland when it did. ( )
  bostonian71 | Feb 24, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553418084, Hardcover)

An unforgettable portrait of individuals who hope, struggle, and grow along a single street cutting through the heart of China’s most exhilarating metropolis, from one of the most acclaimed broadcast journalists reporting on China today.
Modern 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. Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz is one of them. He immerses himself in his neighborhood, forging deep relationships with ordinary people who see in the city’s sleek skyline a brighter future, and a chance to rewrite their destinies. 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 with religion and get-rich-quick schemes while keeping her skeptical husband at bay. Up a flight of stairs, musician and café owner CK sets up shop to attract young dreamers like himself, but learns he’s searching for something more. As Schmitz becomes more 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 neighborhood where fates have been violently altered by unchecked power and greed.
A tale of 21st 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 and texture 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 12 Feb 2016 15:17:45 -0500)

"A narrative account profiling the ordinary men and women who live, work, and dream on the author's street in Shanghai, inspired by his enormously popular Marketplace series of the same name"--

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