In 1995, at the age of twenty-three, Michael Meyer, after rejecting offers to go to seven other countries, was selected for the new China program and sent to a tiny town in Sichuan, China. Going there, he wrote Chinese words up and down his arms so he could hold conversations, and per a Communist dean’s orders, jumped into explaining to his students the Enlightenment, the stock market, and Beatles lyrics. Thus began his impassioned immersion into Chinese life. Michael has spent most of the last twenty years living and working on China’s urban and rural halves, learning to understand its people, culture, and conflicts as very few from the West ever have.
His new book The Road to Sleeping Dragon chronicles the journey that he made to understand China. As he has done with his other books, Michael puts readers in his novice shoes, introducing them to a fascinating cast of resilient characters and travels across the length and breadth of China. He experiences a terrifying bus attack in his first days in-country and explores remotest Tibet, the backstreet courtyard at the heart of Beijing, and his future wife’s Manchurian home.
Meyer is a two-time winner of a Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing, and the recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His stories have appeared in the New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Slate, the Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and on This American Life. Today, Michael is also teaching nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh. (When he isn’t traveling in China!)
Some early comments on his new books from other writers:
“China has never had an explicator and enthusiast like Michael Meyer. His story of how he got to know the country is exciting, sometimes hair-raising, and always fascinating. This is a terrific book and I recommend it highly.” — Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia
“The Road to Sleeping Dragon is an invaluable resource for anybody determined to engage with today’s China. Rather than telling readers what to think about China, Michael Meyer’s lively memoir shows them how to think – how to embrace new experiences, new perspectives, and the ever-changing new incarnations of this incredible country.”—Peter Hessler (China 1996-98), author of Oracle Bones and River Town
“I’ve been an admirer of Michael Meyer since his first book, and this, his third, only makes me more so. It’s hard for me to think of anyone who can dive into another culture with such infectious zest and curiosity, and who gets in so deep, so fast.”—Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost