What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Made in China?
Quite early on in my wife’s pregnancy, I realized that being “pregnant” in China was very different from what I had learned from friends in any other country I can think of. And why, of course, wouldn’t it be? I had thought, obviously, naively, that cultural differences wouldn’t be a cause for concern. It was “just” a pregnancy, something millions of fathers all around the world go through every year. But the questions quickly piled up: “Where can you go and who can you visit during the pregnancy?”, “Can you take your wife seriously if she starts to wear overalls with teddy bears or oversized dresses looking like an X-ray apron from the local hospital?”, “Do I have to eat the placenta?”, “Can you live with your wife if she has not showered for a month after the delivery?” I tried to find information for foreigners in China both online and in books but found it pretty much absent altogether. Since I hadn’t seen anyone else write about their experience of becoming a father in China, I thought to myself: why not try it? Apart from anything else, it would be fun for our children to read one day. So that’s exactly what I did. After many friends and acquaintances asked me to share my personal experiences, I collated them into a book for the benefit of many more people both in China and around the world. And here it is.
If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?
In China, red chili peppers are everywhere, and most people couldn’t imagine Chinese cuisine without the beautifully colored and pungent potent fruits. However, to the surprise to even many Chinese the chili is a “foreigner” with only really a few hundred years as a (more and more welcome) guest in the Chinese kitchen. The Chili Pepper in China finally makes the story of how an unknown visitor eventually becomes omnipresent – known to the world. The book puts both the spice in its right historic and cultural place and for me, it captures my love affair with Sichuan Province and one of its lovely spice girls.
Where did you write Made in China?
I started writing soon after my wife became pregnant with our oldest son, Luka, and he turns 12 this October, so it has taken quite a while and maybe a little too long. I have been working full time at the same time, so I wrote Made in China whenever I had extra time on my hands, but mostly weekends and holidays. I prefer to write at my desk either at home or at work, not in a café, but always with a good strong cup of coffee.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading Made in China what would it be?
It’s important for me that readers of Made in China remember that China and its amazing people and diverse cultures should be experienced firsthand and that no matter what cultural challenges you might experience in your love life, patience and love conquers all.
Pretend you qualified for the Olympics this year. What sport would you compete in?
When talking about China, I know it sounds almost like a cliché, but I would definitely compete in table tennis. I played a lot of table tennis as a boy in Denmark and a young student in China, and I believe I became reasonably good.
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The post Interview with Simon Gjeroe, Author of Made in China appeared first on NewInBooks.