South of the Clouds

Exploring the Hidden Realms of China

Seth Faison

St. Martin's Press

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South of the Clouds offers a fascinating, intimate portrait of China by telling the story of an American man who ventures into its hidden realms---romance, politics, the criminal underworld, and Tibet. As he matures from a wide-eyed student into a journalist and a seasoned observer, he develops a passion for uncovering secrets, about China and about himself.

The author navigates his way past forbidding walls to peek inside the dark corners of Chinese society, relying on a remarkable collection of friends and acquaintances who help guide the way: an embittered policeman in Xian, a gay professor in Shanghai, and a Buddhist monk in Tibet, who presides at an ancient burial ritual where the corpse is carved up and fed to wild vultures.

The Tiananmen Square massacre, people smuggling, and the Falun Gong movement are among the political and social upheavals that the author explains as he witnesses China's uncertain road toward capitalism and its place in the modern world.

Along his travels, the author wrestles with his own cultural identity, his sexuality, and his spiritual bearings. He finds an erotic outlet in the Chinese "Sauna Massage" and a stirring emotional connection with Jin Xing, a brilliant choreographer and China's first openly transsexual citizen. Ultimately, he discovers the answer to lifelong questions on a mountaintop in Tibet.

Seth Faison, with a subtle understanding of Chinese culture, brings past and present events to life in a thought-provoking account of this mysterious nation and its people.

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Reviews

Praise for South of the Clouds

"Seth Faison writes with the candor of a good friend just back from a life-changing journey and eager to share all the intimate details. His daring honesty about himself deepens and enriches this personal odyssey to the true heart of the Middle Kingdom. As Faison peels back the layers of China's "inscrutable" facade, he reveals a society seething with change and longing, cultural ambivalence and individual courage."
- Aimee Liu, author of Cloud Mountain, Face, and Flash House

"Seth Faison is a witness to history---both Chinese, and his own. He brings us to Tiananmen Square, to Shanghai, to Tibet---but even more grippingly, he brings us inside his human heart. As Faison learns the secrets of China, as one of the few Western reporters on the scene, he gains insight on its many mysteries. In the end, though, South of the Clouds' most remarkable achievement is the way it shows us a man coming to understand the mystery of his own passion. Generous, sweet, and mesmerizing."
- Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She's Not There

"Seth Faison's South of the Clouds, the autobiographical tale of a young man who finds himself in a foreign land, brings alive the China of the 1980s and 1990s, a place that has already ceased to exist. He evokes the day-to-day peculiarities and fascinations of life as a foreigner in a Chinese world and provides a wealth of detail about historic events and times ranging from Hong Kong before the handover to China to the Tiananmen crackdown. Faison's work goes beyond his life as a New York Times reporter to reflect upon his personal experience in places as varied as cosmopolitan Shanghai, small-town massage parlors, and the mountains of Tibet."
- Deirdre Chetham, executive director of Harvard University's Asia Center and author of Before the Deluge: The Vanishing World of the Yangtze's Three Gorges

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About the Author

Seth Faison

Seth Faison won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 as a member of the New York Times team covering the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He spent twelve years living in China, as a student, a journalist, and finally as Shanghai Bureau Chief for the New York Times. Faison now lives with his family in Santa Monica, California.

Seth Faison

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Available Formats and Book Details

South of the Clouds
Exploring the Hidden Realms of China
Seth Faison

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
April 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429973687
ISBN10: 1429973684
288 pages
$7.99
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