Scott Tong on his surprising family history


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NOTE: If you haven’t read the book and are allergic to spoilers, please be aware that the interesting surprises of Scott’s story are discussed in this podcast.

Scott Tong is a reporter for American Public Media’s Marketplace, and from 2006 to 2010, he helped found and run the radio program’s Shanghai bureau. During that time, he also experienced a lot of culture shock — his Chinese-American upbringing in the U.S., Hong Kong, and Taiwan didn’t prepare him for mainland China as much as he had expected, and while in Shanghai, he uncovered some surprising truths about his family, which has roots in nearby Jiangsu Province.

A Village With My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World is Scott’s deeply personal reporting and reflection on what he learned about his family, and China’s history, by visiting distant relatives in a forlorn part of Jiangsu Province. It is a highly engaging, eye-opening story that sheds light on how Chinese people engage with their past — and their present.


Jeremy: McKay Books, a huge used books store in Nashville, Tennessee. And Congo Cables: The Cold War in Africa—From Eisenhower to Kennedy, by Madeleine Kalb.

Scott: Resigned Activism: Living With Pollution in Rural China, by Anna Lora-Wainwright. And Rough Translation, an NPR podcast about how foreigners see America.

Kaiser: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, by Kurt Andersen.