India Ink (NYT) spoke with the author at the Tata Literature Live festival in Mumbai, which ended Sunday, about contemporary China, societies in transformation and capitalism in Asia.
Q. “Five Star Billionaire” chronicles the rapid changes taking place in modern Chinese society. How would you describe the outlook of the young Chinese who are leaving behind old attitudes and embracing capitalism?
A. My experience of China is limited to the big cities on the Eastern coast – Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou. The young people I meet there were born in the ’80s, and so they have really not known the extreme hardships that all their parents went through during the Cultural Revolution. I think there is a sense in which their parents want to shelter them from that and want to really move on. I think that is one of the reasons why things have changed so much in China. Obviously, a lot of the economic changes have been organized by the government, but I think on a personal level people just want to leave it all behind. It’s a savagely, brutally pragmatic outlook.