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There are more than 320 million Chinese between the ages of sixteen and thirty. Children of the one-child policy, born after Mao, with no memory of the Tiananmen Square massacre, they are the first net native generation to come of age in a market-driven, more international China. Their experiences and aspirations were formed in a radically different country from the one that shaped their elders, and their lives will decide the future of their nation and its place in the world.
Wish Lanterns offers a deep dive into the life stories of six young Chinese. Dahai is a military child, netizen, and self-styled loser. Xiaoxiao is a hipster from the freezing north. “Fred,” born on the tropical southern island of Hainan, is the daughter of a Party official, while Lucifer is a would-be international rock star. Snail is a country boy and Internet gaming addict, and Mia is a fashionista rebel from far west Xinjiang. Following them as they grow up, go to college, find work and love, all the while navigating the pressure of their parents and society, Wish Lanterns paints a vivid portrait of Chinese youth culture and of a millennial generation whose struggles and dreams reflect the larger issues confronting China today.
“Alec Ash documents the lives of Chinese millennials with detail, insight, and sympathy.”
Peter Hessler, New York Times bestselling author
“One of the best [books] I’ve read about the individuals who make up a country that is all too often regarded as a monolith.”
Jonathan Fenby, Financial Times
“Informative and often humorous…Presents a refreshing range of perspectives about being twenty-something in China.”
“Masterfully crafted…The richness of Ash’s book is in the character development, the details of everyday life, dreams, frustrations, and contradictions.”
Los Angeles Review of Books
“Fascinating…Ash’s deeply insightful exploration paints a vivid picture of growing up in China today, and, by implication, this powerful and ever-morphing nation’s future leaders.”
“Eloquently delineates the dreams and disappointments of young Chinese. Sensitive, fascinating reports.”
“Beautiful and thoughtful…Alec Ash has succeeded in giving us an intimate and complex portrait of the one-child policy generation.”
Xiaolu Guo, author of I Am China
“Alec Ash’s book has opened a window in the wall between China and the West for us to see the hopes and fears of these young Chinese.”
Xinran, author of The Good Women of China