Smith’s second book is described by Arja Salafranca as taking “South African travel writing to new heights”. Salafranca ends her review saying, “You’re sorry to close the book.”
The carrot from reviewer Natalie Bosman is equally delicious: she describes Drinking from the Dragon’s Well as Smith’s “pearl” – read the book to find out just what that means – and asks, “if the tale of a marvellous journey of extreme loneliness countered by cultural experiences that enrich the soul isn’t such a treasure, then what is?”
This led us, at BOOK SA, to ask the following: Is the carrot mightier than the dragon? Or: are two carrots in the hand worth one dragon in the bush?
South African travel writing comes of age in this delightful, witty travel memoir by Alex Smith. Her highly successful novel, Algeria’s Way, was published last year and this makes a wonderful follow-up, as it were.
In 2006, Smith spent a year teaching English in China, in the city of Wuhan, a grey, dusty city distinguished by nothing more than the fact that for yonks Smith couldn’t find a map of the place, for love or money … and forget about finding a map in English, as you would if you were in China’s happening cities such as Beijing.
As you navigate the streets of Wuhan with author Alex Smith, where all the street signs are in Chinese characters and the bus routes lead to the absolute unknown, you’ve never been more grateful for the simple act of being able to read about these goings-on.Because more than anything else, Smith’s latest book, Drinking From The Dragon’s Well, is a glimpse into the world of the illiterate; a humbling experience lived through the eyes of a South African bravely conquering China in search of that special story; that “great Chinese novel-in-the-waiting” she calls her “pearl”.
“Being in China taught me how terrifying life must be for the illiterate,” Smith explains, “and for that alone I am glad that I went to China – it was a great opportunity.
- Drinking from the Dragon’s Well by Alex Smith
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