Everybody wants to think they're the only foreigner living in China.
Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside tells the story of two American English teachers in rural China. Daniel, a young college graduate, is enjoying his seemingly idyllic life in the small town of Ningyuan when Thomas, an entitled deadbeat content to pass the rest of his days in Asia skating by on the fact that he's white, arrives at his high school. The two men take an instant dislike to each other, and in the ensuing battle of wills tensions build to a showdown, with one of their more zealous female students caught in the middle.
Author Quincy Carroll draws on his own years as a teacher in Hunan province to present a realistic portrait of the lives of foreigners outside of China's more Westernized cities. The novel has been acclaimed for its beautiful prose and thought-provoking examination of the expatriate experience, and was a Kirkus Reviews Indie Book of the Month for January 2016.
Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside questions what we take and what we leave behind when we move abroad, our motivations - real and imagined - and how living overseas, away from everything we know, changes us. This is a novel that stays with you long after you finish reading it.
"Probably as close to [the China equivalent to The Sun Also Rises] as we're likely to get, or want... Evoke[s] a fictionalized version of Peter Hessler's River Town." Robert Foyle Hunwick, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Gracefully contrasts idealism and cynicism... The novel has a clear mission it fulfills admirably while recalling W.G. Sebald and Ben Lerner... [An] insightful reflection on the expatriate experience." Kirkus Reviews
"Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside is a poignant, elegant debut that superbly explores cynicism and idealism but doesn't fall into either." Asian Review of Books
"[Carroll] paints an intriguing portrait of Americans abroad." San Jose Mercury News
"Carroll's book is a delightfully poignant read about individuals adapting (or not adapting) to their surroundings, sprinkled with Chinese customs and traditions throughout." Global Living Magazine
"The Catcher in the Rye for international educators.... A must-read if you are considering working abroad especially as a teacher, and especially in China." James Rector, Teach Abroad Network
"A driving, heartfelt story, told with insight and elegance. Carroll is a writer to watch." Kim McLarin, author of Meeting of the Waters
"The two narrators [of Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside] are less dueling archetypes of foreignness in contemporary China than they are representative of the fractured psyches of almost all of us who make China our home for any extended period of time." Jeremiah Jenne, Here! Dongguan
"We've been waiting a long time for the novel that captures the foreign-teacher-in-China experience, and Quincy Carroll has written it... I recommend it to both new arrivals in China and jaded cynics." Alec Ash, author of Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China
"A riveting story of cultures and generations colliding on a backwater Chinese campus, evoking the stillness and suspense of Paul Bowles and Graham Greene. Here is a welcome, novel take on China, and the Peace Corps." Michael Meyer, author of In Manchuria and The Last Days of Old Beijing