[Alan Paul](http://www.alanpaulinchina.com/2011/05/big-in-china-recommended-reading.html) was playing suburban dad in the US when his wife Rebecca was offered the position of Wall Street Journal Beijing bureau chief. In August 2005, the couple and their three kids, then aged 22 months, 5 and 7, moved to China, diving headfirst into the wilds of pre-Olympics Beijing.
Big in China is divided into two parts: the first follows our hero and his family as they experience the awe and wonder of expat life, and in the second, Paul and guitar repairman Woodie Wu form a blues band. They call themselves Woodie Alan and begin playing around Beijing and in Changsha and Xiamen, eventually winning our Beijing mag’s Readers’ Choice Award for 2008 Band of the Year and putting out a CD.
Though most people don’t move here, form bands and get China-famous, readers will resonate with the family’s myriad of emotions: excitement during a trip to Guizhou over their first Chinese New Year and empathy when they return the States for the first time and feel lost. Moist poignant is the “who’s left and who’s leaving” pain of living abroad, which is omnipresent throughout the book and wisely summed up by Paul’s then-7-year-old son Eli. “We were fine before,” he says, “but now we’ll always feel sad about someone not being close to us.”
What: Big in China
Author: Alan Paul
Where: Available at [Charterhouse](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/books-film/bookstores/has/shanghai-centre/)
How much: RMB260