Peter Hessler: Strange Stones


A Conversation and Book Signing

Missed this program? Watch the complete video.

ChinaFile Presents: Peter Hessler, author of the recently published Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West, a collection of essays and writing on China and the United States over the past decade. He will be in discussion with author Michael Meyer and Susan Jakes, Editor of ChinaFile.

Strange Stones is a far-ranging, thought-provoking collection of Hessler’s best reportage from The New Yorker over the past decade. During this time, Hessler lived in both Asia and the United States, writing as both native and knowledgeable outsider in these two very different regions. This unusual perspective distinguishes Strange Stones, which showcases Hessler’s unmatched range as a storyteller. “Wild Flavor” invites readers along on a taste test between two rat restaurants in South China. One story profiles Yao Ming, basketball star and China’s most beloved export, another David Spindler, an obsessive and passionate historian of the Great Wall. In “Dr. Don,” Hessler writes movingly about a small-town pharmacist and his relationship with the people he serves. While Hessler’s subjects and locations vary, subtle but deeply important thematic links bind these pieces — the strength of local traditions, the surprising overlap between apparently opposing cultures, the powerful lessons drawn from individuals who straddle different worlds.

Peter Hessler is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as Beijing correspondent from 2000 to 2007, and is also a contributing writer for National Geographic. He is the author of River Town, which won the Kiriyama Book Prize; Oracle Bones, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and, most recently, Country Driving. He won the 2008 National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting, and he was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011. He lives in Cairo, Egypt.

Michael Meyer is the author of the acclaimed nonfiction book The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Time, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Chicago Tribune. He has represented the National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations. He is the recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and residencies at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, and the American Academy of Berlin. His next book, In Manchuria: Life on a Rice Farm in China’s Northeast, will be published in 2013 and was excerpted on This American Life. His essays on Manchuria, “The Lesser Wall” and “Desperately Seeking City,” were published by ChinaFile. He teaches English at the University of Pittsburgh and literary journalism at Hong Kong University.

Susan Jakes is the Editor of ChinaFile, a new online magazine published by Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. She reported for Time from 2000-2007, first as a reporter and editor based in Hong Kong and then as the magazine’s Beijing Correspondent.


Can't make it to the event? Tune in to or at 6:30 pm ET for a free live webcast. Online viewers are encouraged to submit their questions to

Event Details

Tue 21 May 2013
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
725 Park Avenue (at East 70th Street), New York, NY
Buy Tickets
$10 Members, $12 students and seniors, $15 non-members
Add to Calendar 20130521T223000 20130522T003000 UTC Asia Society: Peter Hessler: Strange Stones 725 Park Avenue (at East 70th Street), New York, NY
If you bought tickets tell your friends on Facebook!