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Download The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China Audiobook, by Huan Hsu Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Huan Hsu Narrator: Huan Hsu Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2015 ISBN: 9780804192187
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Huan Hsu, a journalist and first-generation Chinese American, returns to China to make his fortune and, in the process, discovers his great-great-grandfather’s long-buried porcelain—and with it, the key to his family’s history over the past one hundred years. The Porcelain Thief recounts Huan’s journey through the old and new worlds of China to find hidden treasure, reconnect with his ancestry, and come to terms with his identity.

In 1938, with the Japanese army approaching from Nanking, Hsu’s great-great grandfather, Liu, and his five granddaughters, were forced to flee their hometown on the banks of the Yangtze River. But before they left, a hole as deep as a man, and as wide as a bedroom, was dug to entomb the family heirlooms. Among them was Liu’s prized and priceless porcelain collection, one he had amassed over many years. The vault was filled to its brim before being covered with a false floor and replanted with vegetation. The family’s flight across war-torn China, and the arrival of the Communists, would scatter them across the globe, and Grandfather Liu’s treasure would become family myth.

To separate the layers of fact and fiction that have grown up around his family, Hsu, born and raised in the United States, moves to China and sets out to discover the truth. His investigations take him through China’s cultural past and present, gathering memories of another age, uncovering the story of his family’s flight from the Japanese, and confronting the contradictions of contemporary China.

Melding memoir, travelogue, ethnography, and social and political history, The Porcelain Thief offers a unique and unforgettable window onto the dramatic narrative of China’s past and present.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An ambitious family saga that marries the intimacy of memoir, the sweep of political history, and the suspense of an adventure novel…[Hsu’s] thoroughness leads to a rich, welcome discussion of porcelain, making the book a valuable introduction to this artistic tradition.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “[A] standout book.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A tantalizing mystery—will he find the treasure or will it be a wild goose chase?—told through the lens of an ABC, or an American Born Chinese. And not just any old ABC but one with attitude.”

    Washington Independent Book Review

  • “In addition to documentary and family history, Hsu explores China’s social and political history, as well as his personal feelings about China and the value of documenting and sharing Chinese family stories. Hsu’s fluid writing helps to synthesize these threads into a coherent story well worth reading.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[Hsu] offers plenty of intriguing information about Chinese history and culture…[and] some first-rate detective work.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “The author’s narration of his search for the porcelain grows more compelling as he journeys back to the places of his family’s history…His daily experiences are blended with Chinese history and a general exploration of porcelain, but what sets Hsu’s story apart is his fascinating family history.”


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About the Author

Huan Hsu is a former staff writer for the Washington City Paper in Washington, DC, and the Seattle Weekly, and is the recipient of two Society of Professional Journalists awards as well as of recognition from the Casey Foundation for Meritorious Journalism. His essays and fiction have also appeared in Slate, The Literary Review, and Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts. He lives in New York.