left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Expats on the loose in Beijing

Updated: 2013-03-19 10:13
By Jules Quartly ( China Daily)

Expats on the loose in Beijing

Expat writer Tom Carter recounts his China experiences at the book launch of Unsavory Elements, part of the Capital Literary Festival Beijing. Photos by Zou Hong / China Daily

Whether they are English teachers, diplomats or businessmen, editor of the anthology and author of China: Portrait of a People, Tom Carter said the stories provide an antidote to the plethora of "useless" business and guide books that are outdated a year after they are published because they "immortalize our China experiences and dreams".

Expats on the loose in Beijing

Carter said he took the anthology title from his own contribution to the book and is Party terminology for ne'er-do-wells. In his tale about a merry band of English teachers visiting a bordello, he realizes in this case at least that foreigners fully deserve the epithet of unsavory elements.

Even so, the book provides a variety of outlooks on China from the perspective of outsiders, many of them touching and life affirming.

Former Wall Street Journal columnist and the author of Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing, Alan Paul gave the first reading, about what turned into an adventure too far in the wilds of western Sichuan with his young brood.

He said taking his kids into relatively unexplored parts of China had been an attempt to engage them in the "real" China, as a form of cultural understanding, far removed from the confines of the expat bubble in major cities where life is relatively globalized.

Audra Ang, former Beijing correspondent for The Associated Press, appeared to discover China in bite-sized pieces and characterized her experience as "from world peace to sweet peas" through food metaphors, while exploring the harsh reality of Tibetans in her The Partitioned Pot.

A more light-hearted China story was Matthew Polly's adventures as an aspiring martial artist and businessman, which he turned into the bestseller American Shaolin. He even showed the panel some of his martial moves before pulling up with a muscle twinge.


Expats on the loose in Beijing

Expats on the loose in Beijing

 20-year-old dog and 140-year-old human

 Eat, drink, live China

An expert on the same differences

The first time we met, Guillermo Pulido was bundled up in a thick duffel jacket, his face almost totally covered by a fluffy hat and a cashmere scarf. More...

Expats skip travel for fun in the capital