J. Maarten Troost disguises as a travel writer, but underneath that thin veneer of well-composed sentence structures and impressively large vocabulary hides a pessimist, racist, and otherwise deplorable person. It doesn’t take long before Troost remarks about smog, noise, phlegm, and pee — observations that are repeated every chapter. And then the SARS and eating-dog jokes start. It’s a demo of how constantly trying to be funny comes at the cost of constantly being offensive (and not really that funny). Troost calls China a giant pile of crap. Worse, he paints the Chinese people as being racist against foreigners, while I have been extremely welcome by the Chinese people.
I’m fine with some political incorrectness, but anyone would want to read 382 pages of negativity is beyond me. This book is no honest inquiry into China. It holds no attempt at understanding, and carries an unwillingness to change any viewpoint previously held. If Troost really wishes to write a book about Chinese culture, he could first learn the language — or just stay home.