Kosher Chinese by Michael Levy
Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion

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Synopsis

An irreverent tale of an American Jew serving in the Peace Corps in rural China, which reveals the absurdities, joys, and pathos of a traditional society in flux



In September of 2005, the Peace Corps sent Michael Levy to teach English in the heart of China's heartland. His hosts in the city of Guiyang found additional uses for him: resident expert on Judaism, romantic adviser, and provincial basketball star, to name a few. His account of overcoming vast cultural differences to befriend his students and fellow teachers is by turns poignant and laugh-out-loud funny.



While reveling in the peculiarities of life in China's interior, the author also discovered that the "other billion" (people living far from the coastal cities covered by the American media) have a complex relationship with both their own traditions and the rapid changes of modernization. Lagging behind in China's economic boom, they experience the darker side of "capitalism with Chinese characteristics," daily facing the schizophrenia of conflicting ideologies.



Kosher Chinese is an illuminating account of the lives of the residents of Guiyang, particularly the young people who will soon control the fate of the world.


 

About Michael Levy

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Michael Levy is an educator, writer, and traveler, who currently teaches in Brooklyn, New York, at Saint Ann's School. Levy returns frequently to Guiyang to check in on his students and visit the basketball courts where he momentarily attained stardom. While in the United States, he keeps strictly kosher. While in China, he eats anything with four legs except the table.
 
Published July 5, 2011 by Holt Paperbacks. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Kosher Chinese

Kirkus Reviews

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Like these men and women, the students “lived in a world that seemed unmoored from traditional values.” Knowing that he could change neither the world in which he found himself nor the fate of those whom he befriended, Levy found unexpected comfort in the pop-culture wisdom of a teen singing sens...

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Publishers Weekly

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But Levy turns his perceived otherness to his advantage, earning the nickname "Friendship Jew" and being tapped to lead a student organization, the Guizhou University Jewish Friday Night English and Cooking Corner Club, a rare extracurricular activity in a culture Levy finds devoid of such opport...

Feb 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Kosher Chinese: Living, Teach...

Kirkus Reviews

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But it is nice getting back to the U.S. Our kids are taught critical thinking and not taught to fill in a bubble, which is essentially what the Chinese system is teaching its students.

Jul 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Kosher Chinese: Living, Teach...

Star Tribune

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Lively and hilarious, Levy's account of living in China will also give you great insights to the country and its young people.

Aug 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Kosher Chinese: Living, Teach...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

But Levy's narrative truly shines not when he's chronicling culture clashes, but rather in the moments -- coaching his school's basketball team, making Shabbat dinner for his students -- where he feels the bonds of shared human experience.

Mar 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Kosher Chinese: Living, Teach...

Bookmarks Magazine

His account of overcoming vast cultural differences to befriend his students and fellow teachers is by turns poignant and laugh-out-loud funny.While reveling in the peculiarities of life in China's interior, the author also discovered that the "other billion" (people living far from the co...

Aug 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Kosher Chinese: Living, Teach...

David G. Schwartz

IN KOSHER CHINESE, Michael Levy shares insights into “China’s other billion” gleaned during a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English at Guizhou University, an undistinguished university in a glamourless city smack dab in the middle of the Chinese version of the Great Flyover.

Jul 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Kosher Chinese: Living, Teach...

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