Rob Schmitz discusses "Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road"

“This beautifully conceived and written book conveys the joys, the tragedies, the comedy, and the vivid humanity of modern China.... Years from now people will turn to this book to understand the China of this era.”--James Fallows, author of China Airborne and Postcards from Tomorrow Square

When two-time Edward R. Murrow Award–winning journalist Rob Schmitz moved to Shanghai in 2010, he immersed himself in his neighborhood, forging deep relationships with the ordinary people who lived and worked around him. As he got to know his fellow inhabitants on the auspiciously named Street of Eternal Happiness, their moving stories fueled his curiosity and revealed the remarkable complexities of the city and country he now calls home. Through conversations with his neighbors, and using his skills and insight as a foreign correspondent, Schmitz finds a window into China’s new reality that examines the recent economic and cultural shifts on a personal level—while dispensing with the tired stereotypes of a country we think we know.

Along the way, Schmitz makes surprising discoveries that further untangle the intricacies of modern China: a mysterious box of letters that serve as a portal to a family’s dark past, and an  abandoned neighborhood where fates have been violently altered by unchecked power and greed. Schmitz’s friendships take him to a remote Buddhist temple, a country wedding, a pyramid scheme meeting involving herbal underwear pads, and beyond. His ability to deftly connect the personal to the political, and the contemporary to the historical, adds layers of humanity and empathy to our understanding of China today.

“Rob Schmitz has given us a treasure: a patient portrait of an impatient country, a China that is utterly true to life in its beauty and heartache, tenderness, and greed.”--Evan Osnos, National Book Award–winning author of Age of Ambition

This event is cosponsored by the University of Minnesota China Center. The China Center was established in 1979 to manage the University of Minnesota's exchanges with the Greater China area (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan). For more than three decades, the China Center has reflected the firm and long-standing commitment of the University to international research, teaching and outreach. Learn more at


Rob Schmitz is the China correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace. He has reported on a range of topics illustrating China’s role in the global economy, including trade, politics, the environment, education, and labor. His work was a finalist for the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. He has won two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and an award from the Education Writers Association.

Event date: 
Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
38 S Snelling Ave
St Paul, MN 55105