Thursday, January 15, 2015

the last book I ever read (Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos, excerpt eight)

from 2014 National Book Award Winner for Nonfiction Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos:

Mao’s touch acquired otherworldly significance: when a Pakistani delegation gave Mao a basket of mangoes in 1968, he regifted them to workers, who wept and placed them on altars; crowds lined up and bowed before the fruit. A mango was flown to Shanghai on a chartered plane, so that workers such as Wang Xiaoping could see it. “What is a ‘mango’? Nobody knew,” she recalled in an essay. “Knowledgeable people said it was a fruit of extreme rarity, like Mushrooms of Immortality.” When the mangoes spoiled, they were preserved in formaldehyde, and plastic replicas were created. A village dentist who observed that one of the mangoes resembled a sweet potato was tried for malicious slander and executed.

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