I first heard of Rachel DeWoskin a few weeks ago, when I picked up her one of her works of fiction, Big Girl Small, which I loved. I immediately looked up other books by DeWoskin and discovered that she had written a memoir about her time living in China in the mid-90's. The title of her memoir Foreign Babes In Beijing refers to the title of the very popular Chinese soap opera that DeWoskin found herself cast in as Jiexi, an all American girl and temptress to one of the married Chinese male characters.
This memoir is just plain crazy and impossible to put down. DeWoskin did not move to China with any interest in acting, but went to the audition on a lark and was cast in as a lead. She just seems to go with the flow with regard to experiences and people that come her way. She probably embraces a foreign culture in the best possible way, making many friends that lead her multiple opportunities.
She has interesting things to report regarding stereotypes ( both through her TV show and in the general public) and how they can perpetuate false ideas. The stereotypes on the soap opera are often completely ridiculous, but shine a light on how even minor perpetuated falsehoods can cause damage when trying to break down cultural barriers. Sometimes people want to believe what they have been told, rather than listen to the person in front of them and form a real relationship. This is not to say that DeWoskin doesn't form many real relationships with Chinese friends, but she is often finding herself having tread lightly and defend her culture and misrepresentations. This theme is rampant throughout the book.
This book was endlessly interesting and a great read if you love memoirs or travel journals.