Praise for Beijing Bastard

“Val Wang has given us a memoir perfectly suited to the Beijing that she brings to life so well: heedless, pungent, and proudly insubordinate. She is both American and Chinese, fascinated by her ancestors’ history and desperate to escape it. Like contemporary China itself, Wang is torn between the aspirations for success, idiosyncrasy, and belonging. A vivid and evocative read.”

—Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition

“A humorous coming-of-age memoir. Wang is… at her best when describing the characters who inhabit Beijing’s periphery.”

The New York Times, Sunday Book Review

“A fortune teller in Beijing once told Wang that she’s inclined to zixun fannao, or to seek trouble for herself. But if she set out looking for trouble when she moved to China, it seems she also found her voice along the way.”

Chicago Tribune, Printers Row Journal

“A distinctive memoir: at once a pioneer coming-of-age tale and a discovery of family roots, set in a China that is quickly shedding the old century and dramatically donning the new… Wang’s dry wit and sense of history can make a mundane activity glint with the promise of a hidden, bigger tale.”

—WBUR’s ARTery

“Wang’s Beijing is gritty and bleak but also hopeful and exciting, and her affection for the city is palpable… A deftly written and entertaining memoir that offers a fresh perspective on contemporary China and the people caught in its rapid transformation.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“In her drifter memoir of leaving home in order to find it, Chinese American author Val Wang struggles between head and heart as she tries to make a living—and a life—in Beijing, burdened by the expectations of her forebears yet buoyed by the spirit of youth. In the process, she shows us a China full of contradictions: at once glamorous and grungy, ancient and modern, ambitious and loafing.”

—Mother Jones

“As the daughter of immigrants who fled China decades earlier (and the recipient of “a nearly lethal dose of ‘Chinese’ culture” during childhood), Wang, chasing Chinese counterculture, surprised her relatives with plans to relocate to Beijing. She recounts her growth as an artist against the backdrop of a rapidly changing global city.”

—The New York Times, Sunday Book Review Paperback Row 

“Val Wang spins a rollicking tale of misadventure in Beijing, wonderfully engaging, filled with astute observations of modern China, and edged by a sharp wit that left me laughing out loud on the subway even as I concealed a tear at the last page.”

—Ann Mah, author of Kitchen Chinese and Mastering the Art of French Eating

“A spectacular debut by a writer with the most enviable gift a storyteller can have: timing. Like Arthur Phillips’ Prague and other generation-defining works that capture a fleeting, golden moment in both the lives of a group of expatriates and a larger-than-life place, Val Wang’s memoir of Beijing is shot through with insight, beauty, humor and sadness.”

—Ben Ryder Howe, author of My Korean Deli

Profiles & Interviews

“A Chinese-American Leaves Home in Search for Freedom, In Communist China,” The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC

“Val Wang on her memoir, ‘Beijing Bastard’,” The Boston Globe, First Person

“Washington-bred writer Val Wang’s search for herself in a changing China,” The Washington Post, She the People

The Late Night Interview: Val Wang

“Beijing Bastard: Into the Wilds of a Changing China,” Shelf Awareness

“In Val Wang’s memoir, an intimate portrait of Beijing’s transformation,” The Johns Hopkins Magazine


A video of Val’s appearance at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C..

Val is featured in “Selected Memoir Readings at Politics & Prose,” from the “Live at Politics & Prose” podcast, a co-production of Slate Radio and Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C..

A 15-second tour of Beijing Bastard via #bookpoppy, a project of writer and director Nick Poppy.

The Booklist Reader features the Beijing Bastard trailer.