River Town

  • by Peter Hessler
  • Narrated by Peter Berkrot
  • 14 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the heart of China's Sichuan province, amid the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, lies the remote town of Fuling. Like many other small cities in this ever-evolving country, Fuling is heading down a new path of change and growth, which came into remarkably sharp focus when Peter Hessler arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer, marking the first time in more than half a century that the city had an American resident. Hessler taught English and American literature at the local college, but it was his students who taught him about the complex processes of understanding that take place when one is immersed in a radically different society.
Poignant, thoughtful, funny, and enormously compelling, River Town is an unforgettable portrait of a city that is seeking to understand both what it was and what it someday will be.

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What the Critics Say

"Hessler's writing is lovely. His observations are evocative, insightful, and often poignant--and just as often, funny. It's a pleasure to read of his (mis)adventures. Hessler returned to the U.S. with a new perspective on modern China and its people. After reading River Town, you'll have one, too." (Amazon.com review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great insight into rural China

What made the experience of listening to River Town the most enjoyable?

Really great personal anecdotes from the author


What did you like best about this story?

Listening to the interactions between the author and his students and how their relationship developed.


How did the narrator detract from the book?

I don't personally like the Chinese accent used when reading out the lines from the Chinese characters and I think it would've been better to have someone who had better Mandarin tones for the Chinese names/words (but appreciate that's asking quite a lot)


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Listening to him recount Chinese students with names like "Mo' Money" act out Don Quixote


Any additional comments?

A great easy listen.

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- lebelette

Absorbing book ruined by narrator

This is an engrossing, accessible but nonetheless perspicacious book, one of several on China written by Hessler. However, this recording is ruined by the narrator's lack of knowledge of the Chinese language. Although in English, the book includes references to many Chinese terms and sayings which are hopelessly mispronounced by Peter Berkrot. To anyone with even a superficial knowledge of how Chinese should sound, this is distracting and detracting. This may not be a problem for those with absolutely no knowledge of Chinese (Berkrot cannot even pronounce the most fundamental and basic of words), although it would nonetheless give such listeners a false impression of how Chinese is supposed to sound. While it is understandable that it would have been difficult to get a narrator who also spoke fluent Mandarin, it surely could not have been that difficult to find someone who had at least some familiarity with the language. A shame.
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- Pete Millwood

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-05-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios