Peter Hessler, a low-key New Yorker journalist. Based in China until 2007, he later wrote on the American West and now lives in Egypt. Hessler has written three books on China and a collection of essays, all published in the US, and been recognized with a MacArthur fellowship.
In China, however, he has been transformed into a writer of cult-figure proportions whose fans analyze his love life, his translator’s finances, and his children’s education. An enthusiast has written a book imitating his prose style and retracing his career, while a men’s fashion magazine flew a team from London to his summer home in Colorado to shoot a three-page photo spread. China has had celebrity authors before, but never a foreigner who writes on its most sensitive subject: itself.