The best way to gain a deeper understanding of the culture of a foreign country is to read its literature. Chinese literature has a history of thousands of years and is characterized by a long tradition of realism that depicts Chinese society and the values of its people in different epochs.
Moment in Peking is a historical novel set in 20th century China. Written in English by the Chinese American author Lin Yutang, it covers the turbulent events from the Boxer Uprising in 1900 to the Anti-Japanese War of 1938.
The author tries not to be overly judgmental of his characters. There are no absolutely good or bad characters; each holds a piece of the truth as well as illusion.
In the preface, Lin writes that "This novel is merely a story of... how certain habits of living and ways of thinking are formed and how, above all, [men and women] adjust themselves to the circumstances in this earthly life where men strive but gods rule."
When the novel was published in the United States at the end of 1939, it sold 50,000 copies in just six months. TIME magazine said "it may well become the classic background novel of modern China."