You are here

Yale Center Beijing-Yale Club of Beijing Speaker Series: In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China

Monday, March 23, 2015


The Event

In a joint event with the Yale Club of Beijing, Michael Meyer, author of The Last Days of Old Beijing, presents on his new book In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China. As featured on NPR’s This American Life, the book is a vivid and insightful portrait of China today.

The book is a mixture of memoir, contemporary reporting, and historical research, presenting a unique profile of China’s legendary northeast territory—its breadbasket and industrial engine. For three years, Meyer rented a home in the rice-farming community of Wasteland, hometown to his wife’s family, and their personal saga mirrors the tremendous change most of rural China is undergoing—here in the form of a privately-held rice company that has built new roads, opened a popular resort, introduced organic farming, and constructed high-rise apartments into which farmers can move in exchange for their land.

Amplifying the story of family and of Wasteland, Meyer takes us on a journey across Manchuria’s past, a history that explains much about contemporary China—from the fall of the last emperor to the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, to Japanese occupation and Communist victory.

Meyer will show slides from his research and present on the successes and challenges of reporting from the Chinese countryside.

The Speaker

Michael Meyer first went to China in 1995 with the Peace Corps. As the author of the acclaimed The Last Days of Old Beijing, he received a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has also won a Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers. Meyer’s stories have appeared in the New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Slate, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and on This American Life. He teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh and spends the off-season in Singapore.

Public Event