Paul Mason has had a busy year. As well as the day job as economics editor for Newsnight, he brought out not one but two books, Why its Kicking Off Everywhere (Verso 2012) and this, his first novel. Compared to the highly-topical book about the upheavals of 2011, from the revolutions of the Arab Spring to the English riots, Rare Earth risks being known as ‘the other Paul Mason’, but this is not entirely fair to it. It is unlikely to persuade anyone that Mason is a better novelist than he is a journalist, but it has its fascinating moments.

The story starts with a group of British journalists trying to film a report on the Chinese government’s ‘fight against environmental depredation’. Destined for a short slot in a programme sponsored by the government, it is not supposed to be critical. All their employers want is something pointing out the ‘new China’ for their coverage of the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square. The journalists are being carefully escorted by their Chinese minder, Chun-Li, and everything is going to plan, until they end up by accident in the desert town of Tang Lu and get some film of residents complaining about the appalling environmental conditions. From there, it all starts to spiral out of control.

Read the full review on Counterfire

Verified by MonsterInsights