As read on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.
This is the generation that will change China. The youth, over 320 million of them in their teens and twenties, more than the population of the USA. Born after Mao, with no memory of Tiananmen, they are destined to transform both their nation and the world.
These millennials, offspring of the one-child policy, face fierce competition to succeed. Pressure starts young, and their road isn't easy. Their stories are also like those of young people all over the world: moving out of home, starting a career, falling in love.
Wish Lanterns follows the lives of six young Chinese. Dahai is a military child and netizen; 'Fred' is a daughter of the Party. Lucifer is an aspiring superstar; Snail a country migrant addicted to online games. Xiaoxiao is a hipster from the freezing north; Mia a rebel from Xinjiang in the far west.
Alec Ash, a writer in Beijing of the same generation, has given us a vivid, gripping account of young China as it comes of age. Through individual stories, Wish Lanterns shows with empathy and insight the challenges and dreams that will define China's future global impact.
Alec Ash is a writer and journalist in Beijing. He studied English literature at Oxford University. After graduating he taught in a Tibetan village in western China for a summer, before moving to Beijing in 2008. His articles have been published in The Economist, Prospect, Dissent and Foreign Policy among others. He is a correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books, a contributing author to the book of reportage Chinese Characters, the author of Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China and founder of the Anthill, a writers' colony of stories from China.