Best Asian Books of 2006

1. Oracle Bones
Peter Hessler
Archaeologists call them "oracle bones," the turtle shells and cattle shoulder blades dating from the 13th and 14th centuries B.C. that bear China's first known writing—mostly prophecies. Hessler, who writes about China for the New Yorker, has fashioned his own oracle bone: a lyrical, sharply observed meditation on the country's rich past, frantic present and uncertain future. We meet obtuse bureaucrats, idealistic scholars and young people on the make. Mostly, Hessler focuses on four people: Emily, who gives up her well-paid factory job to train as a teacher of...

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