“Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside” by Quincy Carroll – An Interview | Speaking of China

7 Responses

  1. Madison Plantier
    Madison Plantier April 29, 2016 at 4:21 pm | | Reply

    I know I probably won’t be the first to say this, but what Quincy Carroll has said really touched a nerve with me. I worked as a teacher in China for 2 years (also in Hunan province!) and, like Carroll, I met with the same kind of unsavoury characters.

    I’m so glad that someone sane and unprejudiced is finally voicing the opinions that we’ve all been thinking! Too often I came across foreigners who would get angry if people didn’t speak English, too often I met men well into their 50s and 60s looking to find 20-year-old Chinese girlfirends, too often I experienced the shocking level of vitriol poured onto Chinese people simply for cultural differences. It made me so angry!

    I shall definitely be picking up a copy of “Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside” when my paycheck comes through this month!

    1. Quincy Carroll
      Quincy Carroll May 9, 2016 at 1:50 am | | Reply

      That means so much to me, Madison. Thanks for your support! I hope that the book delivers on its promise and resonates with your own experience of teaching in China.

  2. Alice Chen
    Alice Chen April 30, 2016 at 11:20 pm | | Reply

    I have no idea why a white guy has to lie to get an English teaching job in East Asia. I have seen Russians with limited English teach English to Chinese. The only qualification for teaching in China is…


    And you are disqualified if….


    1. S
      S May 1, 2016 at 6:58 pm | | Reply

      Many Chinese schools don’t want a professional teacher, but a ‘white face edutainer’ to attract in students, hence the abundance of unqualified, many illegal, ‘English teachers’.

      As a teaching professional sent by a home university my work has been undermined by the local staff, much to the frustration of myself and my home university who are attempting to raise standards.
      But this is a whole other thread.

      If there is a preponderance of unqualified inexperienced ‘English teachers’, the blame must lie with the employers who knowingly employ them, as they have failed to attract and retain good professional teachers.

  3. S
    S May 1, 2016 at 12:29 am | | Reply

    I am always ambivalent about blogs/books who paint such a stereotypical picture of the ‘bad foreigner’ who is only after easy sex and BS’ing the local Chinese they teach and work with.

    This to my mind plays into the more xenophobic attitudes of Chinese guys (particularly) who use the behaviour of the minority of ex-pats as a stick to beat the rest of us, and as an excuse to justify their behaviour and attitudes.

    Granted there are those who arrive in China who are “arrogant, lewd and racist”, but certainly not to the extent that is implied by this article. Over my time in China, which has been in a variety of locations, I have only met one guy who could be classed was the ‘over 50’s sexpat’, and found himself quickly isolated and ignored by the local ex-pat community for his disrespectful behaviour (he did not confine his behaviour to Chinese women). Not surprisingly he did not last long in the area by himself as he found he could not survive.

    For the most part I found my foreign colleagues and friends polite, respectful and interested in local life and culture.
    Whereas if I happen to comment on the lack of respect and offensive comments I have been subjected to by local (male) colleagues, I am labelled as ‘not understanding’ or ‘not trying to assimilate’ and a ‘bad foreigner’.
    As I was working in conjunction with a home university there are certain minimum levels of courtesy and behaviour I would expect, regardless of country, as I would give in return.

    Life is not, as we know, black and white.
    But painting such broad strokes gives a very unrealistic impression of living and working in China, although I can see the necessity for dramatic effect in a work of fiction.
    The danger is that too many people see this as the reality of living and working in China.

    It is not.

  4. Quincy Carroll
    Quincy Carroll May 9, 2016 at 2:11 am | | Reply

    I appreciate your comment, S. One thing I should have mentioned is that Guillard is not the only “bad” foreigner in the book; Daniel definitely has his moments too. The attitudes I noticed among other expats in China arose in my own mind occasionally, so catharsis aside, writing this novel was also an exercise in “exorcising the demon,” I guess you could say. Again, I really didn’t want to come off as judgmental in either this interview or the novel itself, but these types of characters definitely stood out to me during my three years in China, and that’s why I tried to imbue the story with as much ambiguity as possible. The novel has a pretty inconclusive ending, which I did on purpose in the hopes of making the story less black and white, but you are totally right, the contrast between Guillard and Daniel was a huge force in terms of moving the narrative forward. I think that UMDC is one of the more honest novels out there about foreigners living in China, but I understand it’s not going to reflect everyone’s experience. It makes me happy to hear that yours was so different!

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