On the life of the Nobel laureate, Sir V.S. Naipaul, and the influence of Trinidad, England and India on his writing.
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Happily, the chick-lit cover is deceptive. Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel DuWoskin (Granta; Rs 550) is a totally entertaining take on China by a woman who is no more concerned with the size of her bottom than with that of the economy. Rachel DuWoskin, lately graduated from Columbia with a first-rate brain and a high-class bod, puts both to use in turn-of-the-millennium Beijing where she works as a PR executive and, for part of her time, ends up starring in a wildly popular television series called Foreign Babes in Beijing which examines, explodes, and reinvents every stereotype about the barbarians—from the Chinese point of view. The refreshing thing about this travelogue is that it does not ‘go exploring’, or try to ‘do China’. DuWoskin offers interesting insights into China by fixing a thoughtful lens upon her own daily life, work, friends and romances. Her voice is wry, fair yet personal, and often very funny; and mercifully she does not take herself too seriously. She is a wonderful guide to daily expatriate life in China, and a wonderful example of how that life need not be lived in an insulated bubble. There’s a world of difference between the woman who first flies into Beijing and the one who flies out years later; her story is a bildungsroman of sorts.
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