top of page

The Early Arrival of Dreams; A Year in China


One year before the protests in Tiananmen Square, Rosemary Mahoney participated in a teaching exchange between Harvard College and Hangzhou University.  At Hangzhou she was able to overcome her students' usual rigidity and achieve a rare and intimate glimpse of their culture and their attitudes. This remarkable memoir captures both the dreams and the grim realities her Chinese students faced within the confines of an oppressive political regime.

A New York Times Notable Book.




New York Times Book Review:  “What marks Ms. Mahoney’s writing as special is her ability to see, feel and describe in simple but evocative prose…her choice of language is so right and so graphic that one almost has the sensation of watching a film.” -- Orville Schell


Times Literary Supplement:  “Her eye is compassionate, her style succinct. The Early Arrival of Dreams must be compulsory reading for anyone at all interested in modern China.”-- Deborah Singmaster

The Washington Post Book World: “Although Mahoney taught at Hangzhou University before [the] massive student-led demonstrations and massacre of protesters…her chronicle will nonetheless complement and probably surpass in depth many of the books written about the massacre and its aftermath.”

Publisher’s Weekly: “With novelistic gifts and an eye for the telling detail, she captures the texture of daily life in a memorable odyssey.”

Kirkus Reviews: “Engaging and splendidly written chronicle of a Radcliffe student’s year as an English teacher in China.  Her luminous style and her sympathy for China and its people make for a fine account.”

Chicago Tribune (J.D. Brown): “The people Mahoney befriended…are as vivid as characters in a novel, and readers of this memoir can feel what daily life in China really entails.”

The Baltimore Sun: “Beautifully written, with a novelist’s eye for the telling detail. . ." --Alice Steinbach

ALA Booklist Review: “An invaluable analysis of student life just prior to the massacre in Tiananmen Square, written with verve, care, and affection.” -- Donna Seaman


The Korea Times:  “It is a beautifully written memoir of the people she met, the places she visited.” -- Mathias Adelhoefer

Minnesota Public Radio: “The Arrival of Dreams is a gracefully written book, at times lyrical, at times mesmerizing and always lucid.” -- Leonard Lang

The San Diego Union-Tribune: “…it is an insightful and well-written chronicle of Mahoney’s odyssey in the academic life of Hangzhou.” -- Vyvian Tenorio

The Times Record (Bernie Monegain): “The beauty comes from Mahoney’s skill with the English language, her clear-eyed observations and her apparent love for the people she writes about.”

Library Journal: “Her Chinese characters have the intensity of a medieval miniature, incised with short, taut strokes of saturated color, while the deployment of incident, rhythm of character revelation, and development of the narrator are those of a crafty novelist.” -- Charles W. Hayford

The Times Record: “..the reader is drawn further into the intrigue of the country; patterns and characters emerge amid Mahoney’s delight in details.” -- Barbara Bartels

bottom of page