Michael Meyer first went to China in 1995 with the Peace Corps. As the author of the acclaimed The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, he received a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has also won a Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers. Meyer’s stories have appeared in The New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Slate, the Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, and on This American Life. Meyer teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh and spends the off-season in Singapore. His newest book, In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, will be published on February 17, 2015.

Last Updated: January 28, 2015



Nearly Dead on Arrival

Michael Meyer
I was a six-foot-two-inch rake whose strongest muscle was my mouth: at college I once talked down a mugger pressing a knife against my gut, and twice lost fistfights after telling off racists. I never felt big, but in China my size usually made me...



What Happened to the Settlers the Japanese Army Abandoned in China

Michael Meyer
Seventy years ago today, thousands of Japanese settlers—mostly women and children—found themselves trapped in an area then known as Manchuria, or Manchukuo, the name of the puppet state the Japanese military established in 1931. Abandoned by their...

Sinica Podcast


In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are joined by Michael Meyer, the author of The Last Days of Old Beijing and now In Manchuria, a part literary travelogue and part journalistic account of three years spent living with family in rural Jilin.{...



The Other China

Michael Meyer & Ian Buruma
Writers Michael Meyer and Ian Buruma engage in a discussion co-sponsored by The New York Review of Books centered on Meyer’s new book, In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, which combines immersion...



‘This is not that China Story’

James Carter & Michael Meyer
James Carter spent much of the 1990s researching the modern history of Harbin, China’s northernmost major city, in the region that is today known as dongbei, the northeast. That region is the subject of Michael Meyer’s forthcoming book, In Manchuria...



The View from Wasteland

Michael Meyer
In winter the land is frozen and still. A cloudless sky shines off snow-covered rice paddies, reflecting light so bright, you have to shield your eyes. I lean into a stinging wind and trudge north up Red Flag Road, to a village named Wasteland.The...



On “Strange Stones,” a Discussion with Peter Hessler

Peter Hessler, Michael Meyer & more
On May 21st at the Asia Society in New York City, Peter Hessler, author of the recently published Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West, discussed his book and a decade of writing about China and elsewhere with author, Michael Meyer and...



Desperately Seeking City

Michael Meyer
At the world’s only International Sister City Museum, located in far northeast China, a guide leads a group of Harbin middle school students past displays for each of their hometown’s twenty-seven “twins.” “Our government’s friendship with these...



The Lesser Wall

Michael Meyer
There is no such place as Manchuria, but the word still resonates like a bell struck a century before. The region is now more prosaically called dongbei—the northeast—yet its contemporary toponyms sing of its imperial past, when it was the homeland...

Recommended Links

Foreign Policy

Beijing, as most Chinese know it, was a neglected relic after the Japanese occupation of World War II and the Chinese Civil War. In 1949, when the victorious communists moved the capital back there from Nanjing, it was a bankrupt town of 1.4 million people; almost nothing of any consequence was made or manufactured there. But the path to the...