The author of Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens, László Krasznahorkai, Hungarian writer and poet, Booker Prize winner, condemns his quest to find any remaining evidence of Chinese civilization to failure from Page 1—as if the book’s title had not alerted the reader to what lay ahead.
We tend to be too earnest about China—the opacity of its politics, the sufferings foisted upon its people by a capricious government bent on maintaining one-party rule at all costs, the hagiographies of the system’s entrepreneurial winners.
Yes, a devastating fire broke out in the Tibetan quarter of Shangri-la’s Duzekong district in 2014, but little about this part of town was ancient. It is a better described as a commoditized, Chinese state-endorsed face of Tibet.
Chris V Taylor is a writer based in Bangkok. He has been a guidebook writer, a travel writer and has written commentary and reported for many publications worldwide, including The Wall Street Journal, The Far Eastern Economic Review, Salon, Time, the South China Morning Post, The Age, and The Sydney Morning Herald.
You can find him on Twitter @ChrisVTaylor.