The inspiring story of a man, a family, a band, a foreign country, and a new beginning.
When Alan Paul's wife was offered the job as the Wall Street Journal's China bureau chief, he saw it as an amazing opportunity to shake up their increasingly staid suburban New Jersey life. Excited and not a little scared, they packed up their three children, ages two, four, and seven, and headed for adventure and uncertainty in Beijing, China.
Based on his award-winning Wall Street Journal Online column, "The Expat Life", Big in China explores Paul's unlikely three-and-a-half-year journey of reinvention in this rapidly developing metropolis. He reveals the challenges that he and his family faced while living in a foreign land, including reaching beyond the expat community, coming to terms with his new role as a stay-at-home dad, and learning to navigate and thrive in an unfamiliar culture. By viewing an intimidating challenge as a golden opportunity rather than as a burden, he saw his world open up around him.
At the heart of the memoir is his time fronting Woodie Alan, a blues band he formed with a Chinese partner. The cross-cultural collaboration became an unlikely success. The band embarked on a tour across China, earning the title "Best Band in Beijing" and recording an acclaimed CD of original music sung in both English and Mandarin, which prompted ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons to say, "This is the best Chinese blues band I ever heard. Who knew?" Woodie Alan was symbolic of Paul's entire China experience - and proof of what transpires when one can suspend preconceived notions and plunge into a new reality.
A testament to the transformative power of a life lived beyond comfortable borders, Big in China reminds us of the importance of always keeping our horizons wide and our thoughts ambitious.
©2011 Alan Paul (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
I really enjoyed this book. Alan did a good job of narrating his own story and it was fun when he interspersed music from his China band, "Woody Alan." This is a fun story if you want to know a little more about contemporary China, what its like to be an ex-pat in China, and what its like to be the band leader for the "Best Band in Beijing." Well written, thoughtful, and fun.
I just returned from yet another stay in China (2 months this time) and I had the chance to listen to Big In China by Alan Paul.
He does an incredible job in depicting life in China with the various nuances and customs. people and behavior that he writes about. I love it over there and can relate to everything that he writes about from the 'Beijing Cough" and not being able to see the sun for days on end because of the smog and pollution, to toddlers with the split open back end pants that are at the ready for a squat or pee anywhere, anytime.
I'm vegetarian, so I was able to convince my hosts that I wasn't going to eat the awfully strange meats on the table that made their rounds in front of me, but, I witnessed everyone else eating who knows what!
If you haven't been to China... go!
If you can't make it, then at least listen to Alan Paul's great book, Big in China.
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