April 17, 2008
"The week before, when I'd arrived in Shanghai, my first impression of China had been that it was one of the most advanced places I'd ever seen. The scale of Shanghai, which from the sky had presented a dead-flat vista of tens of thousands of neatly arrayed oblong houses—each of which, a closer look revealed, was in fact a large apartment block—and then, on the ground, the brutally new skyscrapers and the pedestrian-hostile streets and the artificial dusk of the smoke-filled winter sky: it was all thrilling. It was as if the gods of world history had asked, 'Does somebody want to get into some really unprecedentedly deep shit?' and this place had raised its hands and said 'Yeah!'"-Jonathan Franzen in the April 21, 2008 New Yorker
More on Franzen's trip to China here (audio link).