I don’t intend to write about China in A Smaller Circle, but much of my professional work is focused on China so I can’t help wondering what the Chinese think about community and how all the changes of the last decades have affected community life. Today I came across a book review that quotes a passage I remember well from Peter Hessler’s Country Driving:

The longer I lived in China, the more I worried about how people responded to rapid change. This wasn’t an issue of modernization…But there are costs when this process happened so fast…from what I saw, the nation’s great turmoil was more personal and internal. Many people were searching: they longed for some kind of religious or philosophical truth, and they wanted a meaningful connection with others. They had trouble applying past experiences to current challenges. Parents and children occupied different worlds and marriages were complicated-rarely did I know a Chinese couple who seemed happy together. It was all but impossible for people to keep their bearings in a country that changed so fast.