Laowai Will Like You Too!
23 May 2005
I bought this book a while back solely because of its title: 老外也会喜欢你 (“Foreigners Will Like You Too”). The author was a twenty-something Chinese woman and, judging from the book’s cover (oops), the intended audience was Chinese women. It seemed likely that the laowai referred to in the title were male ones. Like me. This was going to be entertaining, I thought.
I was very wrong. Every time I tried to read the book, it failed completely to hold my interest. I demoted it to “bathroom book” status, figuring I’ll read anything on an extended visit to the commode. But even as a bathroom book, and even read in the “open to a random page” fashion, the book was utterly uninteresting. I was intensely disappointed. Of the few sections I did read, I remember virtually nothing. I vaguely recall a few ridiculous generalizations.
Please keep in mind that this is not a book review, because I didn’t read the book. I did, however, look at the pictures. Thoroughly. They were pretty.
In keeping with an incomplete treatment of the book, I will loosely translate the table of contents:
1. Where there’s a will, there’s a way
2. Where are the laowai?
3. No barriers to communication
4. Using charm in communication
5. Etiquette when getting to know each other
6. Communication’s visual etiquette
7. Dealing with a foreign boss
8. Foreigners’ taboos and customs
9. A beautiful mood
10. Foreigners have something to say
11. My view of foreigners
OK, now for the pictures. As I said, I found them the most interesting part of the book. I like the style. The question, however, is: what do these illustrations communicate to the reader?
I’m not sure what the illustrations* convey to you, but I’m getting a “you, too, can be a rich laowai‘s pretty plaything” message. I can’t tell you if the content of the book is along those lines at all. You know why.
老外也会喜欢你 is by 巴义. It is published by 中国青年出版社, 2004. ￥22. ISBN 7-5006-5589-4/C·352
* This style of illustration is very popular in Shanghai these days. Pizza Hut, for example, has just started a new ad campaign using a very similar style.