On Brittle Ground: My China Journey – S$25.00

‘When Souchou Yao returns in middle age to the Chinese market town he left as a child, he finds that he is both a stranger and a kinsman; at once a tourist and a native son. His encounters with family members who suffered the terror and persecution of Mao’s Land Reforms, and his intimate observations of how the new China is still haunted by its past, are interleaved with personal reflections and mixed emotions. Can one justify the sacrifice of millions of lives in building a brave new world? Is destruction the inevitable price of progress? Can an exile ever go home again? On Brittle Ground is a moving chronicle of a journey home and a poignant reminder that new life may spring from catastrophic events, and new fires flicker among the ashes of the old. In Souchou Yao’s beautiful prose narrative, unresolved paradoxes give way to the wisdom of acceptance. Though some things change, other things never change — ‘You need a home to feel the ecstasy of restlessness’. Michael Jackson Distinguished Professor of World Religion, Harvard University

Souchou Yao is a cultural anthropologist and writer. He is the author of several books: House of Glass: Culture, Modernity, and the State in Southeast Asia (2001); Confucian Capitalism: Discourse, Practice and the Myth of Chinese Enterprise (2002); Singapore: The State and the Culture of Excess (2007); The Malayan Emergency: Essays on a Small, Distant War (2016); and numerous articles. He and his wife, the artist Simryn Gill, live and work in Port Dickson, Malaysia and Sydney, Australia.

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  • Title: On Brittle Ground: My China Journey
  • Author: Souchou Yao
  • ISBN: 978-9670960760
  • Book Size: 142.8mm x 215.9mm
  • Weight: 353g
  • No. of pages: 230pp
  • Price: S$25.00 (before tax)
  • Year: 2017
  • Finish: Paperback
  • Published by: SIRD
  • Printing: B/W
  • Genre: History, Philosophy, Travel, Politics, Memoir

Additional information

Weight 353 g
Dimensions 14.3 × 21.6 cm


Established in 2000, and nominated for 2020’s Prix Voltaire, Gerakbudaya is a publisher and distributor of books that embody social awareness, critical and alternative perspectives, and the hidden histories of Malaysia, Southeast Asia and the wider world we live in.

Gerakbudaya is dedicated to the circulation of timely and important books, to breaking down artificial barriers between writers/thinkers and between institutions and the outside world, and generating informed discussions on important issues in Malaysian life by providing different views and fresh insights.

As a publisher, alongside our academic imprint Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD), we are committed to publishing original and thought provoking books which produce a critical awareness of Malaysian politics, history, culture and society.

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