Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams along a Shanghai Road by Rob Schmitz

Barb Faasse

3.5 Stars

June 8, 2017

Journalist and NPR correspondent, Rob Schmitz, has written a fascinating firsthand tale of life on a busy road called the Street of Eternal Happiness in Shanghai, China. He, his wife and children live there and have befriended many people on the street. Schmitz tells the story of Uncle Feng, who cooks and sells scallion pancakes to passersby on the street.  Feng's wife, Auntie Fu, is constantly making poor investments in get-rich-quick schemes and drags Rob to sales meetings. Uncle and Auntie bicker constantly and have 2 TVs in their bedroom so they can each watch their own shows.

Schmitz also gives us a portrait of the lives of other business owners and residents on the street.  CK owns a cafe called Your Sandwich and sells accordions on the side.  Zhao owns a flower shop and spends her spare time trying to find wives for her sons, Big Sun and Little Sun. Mayor Chen's home was seized and destroyed by the government and he pored over law books by the hour, looking for ways to petition for compensation and resettlement.

Rob Schmitz also takes the reader along on visits to a secret Buddhist monastery, a rural wedding, and a service at an underground Christian church. The book is a blend of these personal tales and interesting historical details about the history of China.  It is a book that almost anyone who wonders about China and what really goes on there, would find telling.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for my honest review.