Chinese immigrants of the recent past and unfolding twenty-first century are in search of the African dream. So explains indefatigable traveler Howard W. French, prize-winning investigative journalist and former New York Times bureau chief in Africa and China, in the definitive account of this seismic geopolitical development.
China’s burgeoning presence in Africa is already shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people. From Liberia to Senegal to Mozambique, in creaky trucks and by back roads, French introduces us to the characters who make up China’s dogged emigrant population: entrepreneurs single-handedly reshaping African infrastructure, and less-lucky migrants barely scraping by but still convinced of Africa’s opportunities.
French’s acute observations offer illuminating insight into the most pressing unknowns of modern Sino-African relations: Why China is making these cultural and economic incursions into the continent; what Africa’s role is in this equation; and what the ramifications for both parties and their people—and the watching world—will be in the foreseeable future.
Howard W. French is an associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he has taught both journalism and photography since 2008.
For many years, he was a Senior Writer for The New York Times, where he spent most of a nearly 23 year career as a foreign correspondent, working in and traveling to over 100 countries on five continents.
Until July 2008, he was the chief of the newspaper’s Shanghai bureau. Prior to this assignment, he headed bureaus in Japan, West and Central Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. Mr. French’s work for the newspaper in both Africa and in China has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
He has won numerous other awards, including the Overseas Press Club award and the Grantham Prize. French speaks English, Chinese, Japanese, French, and Spanish.
From 1979 to 1986, he lived in West Africa, where he worked as a translator, taught English literature at the University of Ivory Coast, and lived as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post and other publications.
French is the author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa (Knopf 2004), which was named non-fiction book of the year by several newspapers. “Continent” won the 2005 American Library Association Black Caucus Award for Non-Fiction, and was a finalist for both the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage and for the Hurston-Wright Foundation’s non-fiction prize.
“Disappearing Shanghai,” French’s documentary photography of the last remnants of Shanghai’s historic old neighborhoods has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Asia, and reprinted in numerous magazines. Prints from Disappearing Shanghai have been acquired by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, as part of its permanent collection, and shown in solo exhibition there.
“Disappearing Shanghai” was published in book form by Homa and Sekey in August 2012. The work is a collaboration with the author, Qiu Xiaolong, a Shanghai native, who contributed original poetry.
French’s third book, China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa, was published by Knopf in May 2014. It was selected by The New York Times, The Economist and The Guardian as one of the most noteworthy books of the year. He is now at work on a new non-fiction book, also under contract with Knopf, about the history of Chinese power and the geopolitics of East Asia.
French contributes often to a variety of publications, including The Atlantic and The New York Review of Books, and occasionally reviews books for The Wall Street Journal. He is also a frequent public speaker.
French was a 2010-’11 fellow of the Open Society Foundations. He is also a board member of the Columbia Journalism Review, and he currently resides in New York City.
For more information, please contact Howard French at firstname.lastname@example.org