Oracle Bones - A Journey Through Time In China
by Peter Hessler
Oracle Bones is Peter Hessler's follow up to River Town where he writes about his time in the Peace Corps teaching English at a college in China. Oracle Bones follows some of the author's students and friends as they try to make their way in the fast changing China of today. There is also the story of an Uighur (Chinese ethnic minority) friend of his that emigrated to the United States right before the September 11th bombings. The book jumps back and forth between these stories and those of the archeologists who studied the Oracle Bones. Oracle Bones are ancient animal bones or turtle shells that were heated until they cracked and the cracks were used to tell the future. It is thought that the writing from these cracks is the oldest written Chinese language. Sadly, many of these artifacts were destroyed during the cultural revolution. If you read River Town the book may seem a bit repetitive as the author recycles some of the stories from his first book. I did enjoy the book but not as much as River Town, Oracle Bones is a bit more fragmented and doesn't really have much of a flow to it. I am sure there many connectiions and parallels that can be made comparing the past and future in the book but most of it wasn't too obvious to me. I am looking forward to Jen reading the book. With her being an English major she may pick up on more than I did.