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.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. judging from the author’s name and “bian-zhu”, the book is a collection of materials from other sources, not written but only edited by the author. in many cases, the “author” are 20-something college students who search raw materials on the web with the guidance of an editor from a publishing house. if a “marketing guru” is involved, the book will be credited with good remarks from various celebrities, or even appears in the “top 20 bestsellers of NY book review”. such books are called “fake books” and are banned by the government, recently about 20 “fake books” are banned.

  2. bingfeng,

    I’m pretty sure the book is mostly written by °ÍÒå. I’m guessing the term “editor” is used because there are some interviews and a few sections written by other people. The back flap has a picture and bio of °ÍÒå only.

  3. oooooh. dont like the pictures for the message they convey. its kind of like saying “drop your good girl act – be a hostess girl! foreigners like that!”

    and that chinese girls should get breast enlargement. what are those pictures??

  4. Thanks for posting this, John. I like the illustrations, but I think the lips in the last picture don’t convey “cosmopolitan sophisticate” like the rest of them.

    The book is interesting to leaf through, though I too wouldn’t want to sit and read it cover to cover. It’d be like every awful Q&A session and language corner I’ve ever had all rolled into one 22 yuan package.

    It’s ironic that you were misled by the title when the author protests in her introduction that it’s entirely appropriate and the product of careful calculation…

  5. I think you are being very unfair. Look at the first pic. The message there is clearly ‘I am a strong woman’. You can see this from the fact she is single-handedly bending an iron bar (painted blue, to match her fake contacts).

    The woman in the second picture only looks so curvy because she’s just been elbowed in the side.

    In the third picture – fair cop. They do look like complete bints.

    Final picture – they’re drinking glowy radioactive drinks. That’s cool, in any culture.

  6. I have always heard rumors about such book existed, but I am very surprised to actually seeing it:

    http://www.datingasians.net/sample.pdf

    here is the Tania Wang’s websites:

    http://www.datingasians.net/home.html

    I also find it interesting about author’s bio:

    “Tania Wang is a Los Angeles-based multi-talented content provider.

    She was born and raised in Taiwan and has a background in cultural anthropology. She moved to Los Angeles in 1994 as an aspiring actress.
    She soon discovered that there was virtually no market for Asian actors.”

    I wonder how she collected data for her book…

  7. ÍÐµÄ Says: May 24, 2005 at 1:04 am

    This gives me an idea for a new book, “»ªÈËÒ²»áϲ»¶Äã¡°. It could include chapters like, “Where are Chinese?”, “Chinese have nothing to say,” “Dealing with Chinese parents who think foreigners smell,” “Bribing local officials,” and “Yes! I do look like Da Shan!”

  8. Da Xiangchang Says: May 24, 2005 at 3:33 am

    I can write a better book for cheap Chinese women than that broad. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a book. All any Chinese broad needs to know in hooking up with a rich laowai is in the following suggestions. I’ll call it “HOW TO BE A CHINESE HO ON ONLY 100 YUAN A DAY.”

    Here are the suggestions:

    1. Look in the mirror. Honestly ask, “Am I good-looking enough to be a ho?” If no, do not continue; get an education or failing that, work at Auchan. If yes, proceed to suggestion 2.
    2. Forget nice clothes. Laowais don’t care about your clothes, but rather how LESS of clothes you’re wearing. Shorts, skirts, and sleeveless blouses are always a plus.
    3. Brush your teeth with whitening toothpaste for 3 months. If your teeth are still nasty, smile with your lips closed AT ALL TIMES.
    4. Learn basic English by going to the English corners in your city. Most laowais can’t speak Chinese worth crap so you have to learn English. Absolute musts: “Hello,” “How are you?,” “I love you, boyfriend–you take me to your country?” If laowai says yes to last question, end of the lessons. If laowai says no, proceed to last step:
    5. Always bring the condoms. Carefully perforate condoms with pins before use. Get pregnant and say, “Oooohhh, boyfriend, I’m with child,” in a pitiful whine. (Watch Gong Li’s weepy performances in “Raise the Red Lantern” and “To Live” for inspiration.) If laowai still does not take you to his country, threaten to cause MAJOR scene at his place of work. I’m sure he’ll give in then.

    So there you go–all you need to be a Chinese ho!!!

  9. HEE HEE HEE! Where can I get a copy???

    And don’t be knocking “Raise the Red Lantern,” Xiangchang…

  10. Anonymous Says: May 25, 2005 at 1:56 am

    John
    Reduce your commode reading. I was told by a bottom doctor that it is not recommended. Apparently it can cause bottom related medical conditions.

  11. commenter #10:

    I don’t see anything wrong with reading for 5-10 minutes. I don’t like to sit on the pot any longer than I have to.

  12. So, John – what are you going to do with the book now that you have the pictures scanned? Would you consider it too “dangerous” to pass of to anyone with your implicit endorsement?

    Or, if you ever have someone pestering you with questions about foreigner’s lifestyles and behavior, it might be useful to say, “Here, read this first, and come back with some more substative questions.”

  13. zhwj,

    I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I thought my girlfriend might be willing to read it, to see if it jives with her experience of dating a foreigner. After skimming through it, however, she wasn’t willing to read it.

    I guess it’ll just rot on my bookshelf for a while.

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