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Rod Mackenzie

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Cracking China

Definitions of Cracking: to survive, to make a success, excellent (British Slang), to understand a code, to joke.

There are three good reasons I can think of to read Rod MacKenzie’s book. Firstly, he writes beautifully. Secondly, you’ll understand more about the fastest-growing economic powerhouse in the world and thirdly, it will give you something other than crime or racism to talk about at dinner parties. – David Bullard

Travelling home by train one day, Rod MacKenzie closed his eyes and suddenly had a vision of red lanterns and himself teaching Chinese children English. “Go to China,” something told him – and just like that, he did.

Cracking China is an interesting, funny and thought provoking memoir of a South African who teaches English in China. It’s an off-the-wall account of the author’s discovery of Chinese Culture, from a largely western point of view, and manages to ‘crack’ open the not-so-subtle nuances of Chinese culture, exposing the in-your-face squalor and intrusiveness, while demonstrating the easy-going and childlike nature of its people.

Written in the witty style typical of Rod’s popular blogs, this memoir takes a candid look at China through the eyes of a Westerner, using humour to enlighten and enrich readers on the world’s most rapidly developing country that is still feeling the effects of Mao’s cultural revolution. This book is invaluable for anyone who wants to travel to or conduct business in China.

Rod MacKenzie’s insight into the human psyche engages you on a level that is deep and true. – Aliki Karasaridis, Mail & Guardian

ISBN-13: 9780620451079
Purchase now

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Gathering LightEnglish Lesson, Langa High

- for Theo Kenke, Standard Nine student, stabbed to death

At funerals rain knots soil into mud.
It thickens to hemp the unworded belief
Spaded earth cures, covering everything.
Rain declares redundant the weeping,
Helps open a narrow, six-foot trapdoor
So a rope can twang taut.
                          That much is certain
In today’s class. The rope of memory, grief,
The tight, throttling bewilderment in the faces
Of the mourning family, the feel of the shaken bodies,
Which the schoolchildren suddenly recall
Because of my lesson: Abstract Nouns. “Remember
They’re word you can’t touch or see, like sympathy.
For example, ‘We have sympathy for Theo’s family’.
The noun is not like wood, which we can touch.”