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There are over 320 million people in China aged between 15 and 30.

This generation is often derided by their elders as well as the media. Depending on who you ask they’re shallow and materialistic, apathetic or overly patriotic.

Beijing based journalist Alec Ash thought this stereotype might be missing the full picture, so he set out to do some research.

Over four years, he followed the lives of 6 millennials growing up and pursuing their aspirations in new China.

His debut book ‘Wish Lanterns’ chronicles their experience. It was released last month in the UK to widespread acclaim, winning an interview in the New York Times and glowing endorsements by veteran China writers.

I met up with Alec last weekend at the Shanghai launch of his book, and interviewed him for half an hour. Here’s the edited recording where Alec discusses his book, and the challenges and rewards faced by foreigners who write about China.

You can listen here:

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Nathan James Thomas

Alec Ash at Glam, Shanghai. Original Photo by Elyse Ribbons

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Nathan James Thomas

Author Nathan James Thomas

Nathan Thomas founded Intrepid Times in 2014 as a vehicle for sharing stories from the road and as an excuse to meet and interview his favorite writers. It has since grown into a global community of writers and travelers who believe in sharing stories with heart that make you think and make you feel. Originally from New Zealand, Nathan is currently loosely based in Eastern Europe.

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