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The Ivy Bookshop welcomes Frank Langfitt to discuss his new book The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys With the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China.
“A cleverly conceived, well executed book by an engaging and empathetic storyteller. Langfitt offers up an appealing mix of humorous and poignant tales featuring individuals from different backgrounds who share just one common trait: all are struggling to find their places in and make sense of an era when their city, their country and the world at large have been undergoing complex and often confounding transformations.”—Jeffrey Wasserstrom, coauthor of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know
A new era is dawning for America’s most important competitor. With economic growth slowing and Xi Jinping asserting power, Chinese people face inequality and uncertainty that in some ways resembles our own.
In this adventurous, original book, NPR correspondent Frank Langfitt used his taxi—free rides in exchange for good conversation—to get to know a wide range of colorful, compelling characters representative of the new China: folks like “Beer,” a slippery salesman who tries to sell Langfitt a used car; Rocky, a farm boy turned Shanghai lawyer; and Chen, who runs an underground Christian church and moves his family to America in search of a better, freer life.
Along the way, Langfitt observes as Chinese citizens grapple with the rapidly increasing inequality of the megacity; balance the opposing pulls of making money and maintaining ties to ancestral homelands; live under the growing and often chafing surveillance of the Chinese state; and sound off about America’s new, outspoken leader.
Blending unforgettable characters, evocative travel writing, and insightful political analysis, The Shanghai Free Taxi is a sharply observed and endlessly surprising book about a rapidly changing country.
Frank Langfitt is NPR’s London correspondent, covering Brexit, terrorism and other stories in Western Europe. Before coming to the UK, he spent a decade as a reporter in China, most recently as NPR’s correspondent in Shanghai, where he drove a free taxi around the city for a series on a changing China as seen through the eyes of ordinary people. Langfitt got the idea for the series from his experience decades earlier driving taxis in Philadelphia during summers home from college.
In 2008, Langfitt covered the Beijing Olympics as a member of NPR’s team, which won an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. From 1997 to 2002, he was the Baltimore Sun’s Beijing correspondent, covering a swath of Asia from the Khyber Pass to East Timor. Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He lives outside London with his wife, Julie, a veterinarian, and their two children.
TIME & DATE
Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 7:00pm