By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated April 26, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

You don’t necessarily need an interest in China to get caught up in Peter Hessler’s Oracle Bones, the follow-up to his 2001 best-seller, River Town. An interest in storytelling should do the trick. The New Yorker‘s Beijing correspondent for the better part of a decade, Hessler explores the cultural texture of modern-day China, weaving disparate narratives of his experiences and those of Chinese acquaintances into a portrait of a country in the midst of enormous change. A brilliant observer with a novelist’s ear for character and dialogue, Hessler is both fascinating and funny, whether talking to the dove keeper at a Nanjing monument or chasing a would-be robber down a Dandong hotel hallway in his underwear.

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