To the West, China may appear an unstoppable economic unity, a single high-performing whole, but for the inhabitants of this vast, complex and contradictory nation, it is the cities that hold the secret to such economic success.
From the affluent, Westernised Hong Kong to the ice-cold Harbin in the north, from the Islamic quarters of Xi an to the manufacturing powerhouse of Guangzhou - China's cities thrum with promise and aspiration, playing host to the myriad hopes, frustrations and tensions that define China today.
The stories in this anthology offer snapshots of ten such cities, taking in as many different types of inhabitant. Here we meet the lowly Beijing mechanic lovingly piecing together his first car from scrap metal, somnambulant commuters at a Nanjing bus-stop refusing to acknowledge the presence of a dead body just metres away, or Shenyang intellectuals conducting a letter-writing campaign on the moral welfare of their city. The challenges depicted in these stories are uniquely Chinese, but the energy and ingenuity with which their authors approach them is something readers everywhere can marvel at.