When I first saw the title of the book, Foreign Babes in Beijing, I didn’t know what to expect. Its cover was racy but facetious. I was confused about the title. Was it implying local Chinese women weren’t babes?
The first few chapters cleared up the confusion. This non fiction book is about the author, Rachel, and her first few years as an expatriate in China. Foreign Babes in Beijing is actually the title of a Chinese soap opera she acted in.
I had read and grown tired of the usual books I read about China. Mostly written by Chinese Americans, the stories they shared were good and usually touching, but after reading so many of them, they soon started melting together in my mind. Foreign Babes, written by a western hand offered a different perspective of China. Sometimes I identified with Rachel, since I’ve lived in the US for most of my life, and sometimes I identified with the Chinese locals.
Rachel’s view of China shows Chinese perception of foreigners and their treatment of them. It’s something that I had an inkling of, but not the full details. Each chapter contains an excerpt for the script from the soap opera. Some of them are amusing because of the Chinese stereotype of how foreign women are like.
Foreign Babes in Beijing is an entertaining and eye-opening read and is a nice change of pace from the usual books on China written by Chinese Americans. It made me think about moving back there, but not living the typical expatriate life — I’d rather live like a local.