Drinking from the Dragon’s Well
South African travel writing comes of age in this delightful, witty travel memoir by Alex Smith. Her highly successful novel, Algeria’s Way, was published last year and this makes a wonderful follow-up, as it were.
(Arja Salafranca, read full review from Argus Tonight)
Part memoir, part travelogue, Drinking from the Dragon’s Well is an entertaining, insightful account of the author’s time spent teaching English in China and Taiwan. Alex Smith, aspirant novelist, jaded social editor, and reluctant English teacher, makes her way to the centre of China in the hopes of writing a ‘Great Chinese Novel’. On a scant budget, she trips through Shanghai, sails the Yangtze, explores the dusty relics of Xi’an and sojourns in Beijing. Eventually she signs up for a job in a bastion of conservative communism on a university campus in Wuhan, home to nine million people. After a year she finds herself broke, stranded and hungry in a semi-deserted, snow-covered campus locked up for the holidays, and decides to return to Cape Town. Her detailed impressions and experiences create a multilayered text, documenting China and its many facets, from its people to its poetry, as well as aspects of the complex and engaging author herself.