The Invisible Wall: Dispatches From My Failed Attempt at Becoming Chinese

ORIGINAL TITLE: Den osynliga muren. Rapport från mitt misslyckade försök att bli kines


AUTHOR: Hanna Sahlberg


GENRE: Current Books, Non-fiction

In this critically acclaimed memoir, reminiscent of Lea Ypi’s Free, Hanna Sahlberg chronicles her move to southern China. In her twenties, she aspired to learn the language and to integrate into society – even to the point of becoming Chinese. An experiment as simple as it is doomed.

Hanna eventually serves as Beijing correspondent for Swedish Public Radio, covering the economic boom of the early 2000s and the contentious period around the 2008 Olympics. She becomes part of a close-knit circle of free- spirited journalists in Beijing, joining a young generation of Chinese intellectuals and artists. In their minds, the old system is destined to be transformed into something new any day. But was that dream – as well as her own goal to build a life for herself in China – ever within reach?

Hanna Sahlberg captures modern China with clarity and sensitivity. Much more than a run-of-the-mill book on modern China, hers is an extraordinary story from an insider who experienced the Xi Jinping era up close. Additionally, it’s a stunning historical account that reads like a novel.


”We get very close to the [Chinese] people, in mini-portraits that together form a rich tapestry. Sahlberg’s prose dances along...”
Dagens Nyheter

”Truly brave journalism... a fascinating read.”
Svenska Dagbladet

”With acuity and flow, Hanna Sahlberg reports from her travels through a changing country.” Bibliotekstjänst



”Sahlberg started out as a young woman who wanted to become Chinese and ended up the best reporter Swedish media ever had in Beijing. This is her story – an account that grows increasingly mournful as she and her Chinese colleagues feel the Party’s grip tighten. The book’s somber trajectory speaks volumes about the Chinese tragedy.”
Svante Weyler