If your view of youth in China involves drab clothing and groupthink, it’s time to come into the 21st century. And it would take quite a long march to find a better guide than Zak Dychtwald’s Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World. Dychtwald, in his 20s himself, has lived and traveled extensively in China, and his first book is an entertaining and instructive exploration of the Chinese generation born after 1990.
Want to immerse yourself in a foreign culture? Take a cue from Dychtwald, who first leaves Hong Kong for “the real China” speaking “no meaningful Chinese” and brimming with garnered advice such as, “Don’t let the prostitutes steal your internal organs.” With admirable determination, he learns to speak fluent Mandarin, lives with Chinese roommates and survives multiple awkward situations.
Along the way, Dychtwald develops insights about everything from the obscure (the hugely popular “double-eyelid” cosmetic surgery, which creates a more “Western-shaped” eye) to the well known (China’s now abolished one-child policy) to the inevitable (sex). He discovers that contemporary young people in China and the United States have essentially identical dreams. But the journey to this point is a fascinating story, and Young China tells it well.