Photos: Billie Feng
Author: Mark Levine
Publisher: New World Press
Price: 56 yuan
Mark Levine, an American teacher and musician, has recently published a travelogue named Stories from My Chinese Journey (东游拾趣) in Beijing. The book contains 21 stories based on his personal experiences in China, including work, performances and travel.
Levine came to China in 2005. Besides working as an English teacher at Minzu University of China (中央民族大学), he has traveled all over the country with his guitar. He enjoys singing Chinese folk and revolutionary songs and writing his own songs based on what he sees and hears. He has just received the Great Wall Friendship award, the highest award given to foreign experts by the Beijing Municipal Government. The China Society of People’s Friendship Studies has also appointed him as one of its council members.
Levine didn’t plan to write the book to start with. He sent letters to his friends back in the US, talking about his stories and experiences in China. His friends found the experiences interesting and encouraged him to turn them into a book. “Not all foreigners who come to China have the same experiences so I feel I need to share with them,” Levine said.
The book starts with his stories in Huai’an, Jiangsu province. Then it tells the story about Levine and his Chinese partner in music Fu Han, who is the first person he met after arriving in Beijing. Their interesting encounter started in front of the gate of Minzu University of China. Levine asked her for the way to the Office of International Relations of the university. She wasn’t a student of the university, so her directions led him to a female graduate’s dorm. They exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch with each other. Their interest in music made them form a band called In Side Out (秀外慧中) in 2013. Levine plays guitar and Fu erhu (二胡). She has helped him a lot in his career and become the most important person to him in China. “Different from other travelogues, Mark’s book focuses on Chinese people, including peasants, officials, actors, students, office workers and celebrities," she said.
The editor of the book Stephanie Tansey said she was pleased that her company, New World Press, had the opportunity to publish the interesting book. “This book serves as an important bridge of understanding between the East and West and his voice deserves to be heard,” she said.
Chairman Mao’s niece Mao Xiaoqing (毛小青) congratulated him on the publication of the book. She said, “Mark Levine is a modern-day Norman Bethune. Both of them have made contributions to the development of China. The only difference is that Bethune used a scalpel and Levine is using his guitar and pen.”
The director of the School of Foreign Languages of the Minzu University of China, Guo Yingjian, highly recommends the book to readers. “American readers will see what the real China is through Levine’s experiences, and Chinese readers can see how an American writer perceives China,” he said.
Lei Fengyun, deputy director general of the Department of Cultural and Educational Experts of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, said that he could feel Levine’s love for China after finishing the first pages of the book. “Foreign experts are always an indispensible force for the development of China and the book just plays an important role in introducing Westerners to the beautiful country.”
Thomas Manson, a friend of Levine’s from Canada, describes Levine as a foreigner with a Chinese heart. “He is someone who really cares for China and can tell me a lot about China. When I opened the book, I found a story immediately that spoke to my experience in China.”