Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Tom Scocca, the author of Beijing Welcomes You, and his wife moved to China follower her job transfer and experienced living in Beijing first hand. Scocca’s descriptions of the city are accurate and intoxicating: he includes information on what the city is like, – ancient city sections juxtaposed with the new sections – the food, the traffic, the polluted air and the amazing mass of native people. He covers real life dilemmas with landlords, the cultural differences (such as the Chinese habit of openly spitting on the sidewalk) and how someone from the states can manage and acclimate to these differences.

Beijing Welcomes You is a real life glimpse into the world of an expat living in Beijing and the extent of a culture shock that awaits anyone moving to this part of the world.

I enjoyed Beijing Welcomes You very much, however, I was expecting a book that discussed the economic and social changes happening in China – and specifically in Beijing. Beijing Welcomes You did deliver some of this information, but all within the context of the changes that China made before the 2008 Olympics.

The information about what it is like to live in China was fascinating, but there were large sections devoted solely to descriptions of the Olympic Games. To me, Beijing Welcomes You would have been more interesting if the Olympics were more in the background, instead of the main focus,  but I enjoyed reading it either way. However, if the reader is not interested in a detailed behind the scenes look at the Olympics, they might be better of grabbing a travel diary of the area instead.

Rating: 4/5

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Riverhead. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.