Drinking from the Dragon's Well
About the book:
Part memoir, part travelogue on Alex Smith’s time teaching English in China – in Wuhan and Taipei, in particular. It documents in great detail her impressions and experiences and in so doing creates a multi-layered text. There is China and its many facets, from its people to its poetry, then there is Alex, and her many facets, her reasons for going, and ultimately her leaving the Asian continent.
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, but 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.