I'm not very familiar with the essay genre, so I was a little concerned that this wouldn't be the right fit for me. After the first few pages, however, I was hooked on the story and the author's writing style!
The handful of stories/essays in this book take place in China, the most populated country in the world. Because there are so many living there, Chinese are often thought of as a number and not as individual people. The author, however, tells the fictional, but seemingly realistic stories of individual men and women in this country. From the "Hotline Girl" to the woman who sells flowers, the reader is given a perspective into the every day lives of ordinary citizens.
I loved the short stories and felt that the characters were well-developed by the first few pages of the story. There is just enough irony and satire in the essays to make the reader smile and able to relate to the protagonist's flaws. This is a quick read, but that doesn't mean the stories won't stay with you long after you turn the last page.
Engaging, beautifully written, and haunting, I recommend this book to anyone looking for a diverse essay collection.