By Li Sha
On her third visit to Xinjiang in the summer of 2007, Lisa Carducci, a Canadian writer who has been living in Beijing for almost two decades, traveled the Uyghur autonomous Region "from the most northern point, which is the Friendship Peak on the Sino-Russian border, to the most western, on the Sino-Kirgiz border, and went to the most eastern and most southern cities, Hami and Hotan."
She interviewed more than 20 people representing the varied aspects of Xinjiang where 55 of the 56 Chinese ethnic groups are present (the Jino missing). In her 276 pages These Wonderful People of Xinjiang, printed on high quality paper, and copiously illustrated, the readers will come to meet Yilari Chunguang, an ethnic Xibe bows and arrows maker, the melon expert Wu Mingzhu, the Uyghur 6th generation embroider Ajiahan Sahmet, the "Russian Old Lady"Jina who brews kvas, the Kazak gynecologist Jiang'er Rehati, the Uyghur Imam Abdurakip Damullah, the Mongolian artist Lindai, and so on.
Lisa will introduce her "Kirkiz Family", and tell stories on how she was constantly mistook for a Uyghur.
The style is light and the tone familiar, making the reading a good choice for non-native English speakers also. Lisa has her own way of interviewing people – a writer's vision. Interviewees are amazed by the aspects she considers, different from those of Chinese journalists and TV reporters, and making this book unique.
Xinjiang is rich with ethnic traditions, fruits, ways of cooking mutton meat, breathtaking landscapes, types of arts and crafts, and so many other rich practices that the author shares with the readers.
Lisa Carducci's peculiar vision of the Chinese reality leaves unforgettable impressions. Readers will mentally be transported to Xinjiang and those who will decide to go and see with their own eyes will be well prepared by this reading full of detailed information about customs, religion, culture, music, education, daily life, work, art, etc.
"Xinjiang is a region of extremes in China,"Lisa Carducci wrote in her conclusion, "the country's lowest depression, the warmest place, the most distant point from the ocean, and the region bordering the greatest number of countries. Xinjiang wonders are too numerous to be all mentioned but one must start somewhere, and These Wonderful People of Xinjiang puts the reader on the right way.
A French edition titled Ces gens merveilleux du Xinjiang, is also available.
(China.org.cn April 10, 2008)