Released on 02 June 2016.

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Wish Lanterns

Young Lives in New China

4.14 based on 131 ratings & 25 reviews on Goodreads.com

Synopsis

As read on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

This is the generation that will change China. The youth, over 320 million of them in their teens and twenties, more than the population of the USA. Born after Mao, with no memory of Tiananmen, they are destined to transform both their nation and the world.

These millennials, offspring of the one-child policy, face fierce competition to succeed. Pressure starts young, and their road isn't easy. Their stories are also like those of young people all over the world: moving out of home, starting a career, falling in love.

Wish Lanterns follows the lives of six young Chinese. Dahai is a military child and netizen; 'Fred' is a daughter of the Party. Lucifer is an aspiring superstar; Snail a country migrant addicted to online games. Xiaoxiao is a hipster from the freezing north; Mia a rebel from Xinjiang in the far west.

Alec Ash, a writer in Beijing of the same generation, has given us a vivid, gripping account of young China as it comes of age. Through individual stories, Wish Lanterns shows with empathy and insight the challenges and dreams that will define China's future global impact.

In the media

At a time when the future of China is so important, it is surprising that so little is understood, outside the world of specialised studies, about the hopes and fears of those most likely to shape it: the roughly 200 million people in the People's Republic currently between the ages of 15 and 24. It is this conspicuous lacuna that Alec Ash's Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China seeks to fill. He does so by telling the stories of six young Chinese born between 1985 and 1990 from the time they entered the world practically up to the present day. His deft style, welcome restraint (he writes the lives of his subjects but does not comment on them or, with a couple of exceptions, appear himself) yet discreet sympathy for the travails of those who have plainly become close friends, make the stories more compelling than they might otherwise have been. Some idea of the predicament of China's young makes this book more valuable still
Standpoint
Alec Ash’s storytelling gift in Wish Lanterns: Young lives in new China is essentially a novelist’s. Vivid character portraits such as rockstar wannabe Lucifer, Mia the media diva or Snail the country mouse trying not to be a total loser in the urban minefield are drawn with a humane understanding of some tricky balancing acts achieved between aspiration and compromise, as these “one-child policy” millennials come of age
Times Literary Supplement
You should read this book . . . Alec Ash presents us with a China we've never seen before - a young China, China that's growing not just economically but in its ways, and one that isn't scared to question itself . . . a reporter's approach to everyday stories, with thoughtful insights and historical references chosen with medical precision . . . In true journalistic fashion, the book is as in depth as it is literarily sound . . . The chapters masterfully allow the reader to make up their own mind about each of the subjects . . . it becomes a study of the self (or selves) as much as a study of China
City Weekend