Friday, November 19, 2010

Deborah Fallows -- Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin lessons in life, love, and language

Deborah Fallows, wife of the Atlantic magazine columnist James Fallows, moved to China with him about five years ago. They lived in China for three years, during which time Deborah, who has a PhD in linguistics, struggled to learn the Mandarin language and in the process learned much about the Chinese people, their customs and culture, and the struggles and pleasures of life in modern Beijing.

Her book, Dreaming in Chinese, is gracefully written and a charming series of short essays, each featuring an aspect of the Chinese language which she uses to inform her insights. Any of us who has struggled to learn a foreign language will appreciate her frank appraisal of her progress, her teachers, and the Chinese people she meets. Anybody who is interested in language or language learning will find the book fascinating.

I hope she will continue to write. She is gifted and honest and a sensitive observer. I highly recommend this slim book to all.

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin lessons in life, love, and language. New York, Walker, 2010.


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