A washed up TV reporter stumbles onto a corruption scandal in Western China. Pursued through the desert by a psychotic spin-doctor and a world-weary cop, he discovers the real China: illegal metal mines, a fashion-crazed gang of girl bikers, a whole commune of Tiananmen Square survivors and the up-market sleaze-joints of Beijing.
En route, he clashes with a stellar cast of people-traffickers, prostitutes and TV execs. But then the unquiet dead begin to intervene: ghosts from his own past and the past of Chinese Communism; the “spirits that hover three feet above our heads” of Chinese folklore.
Rare Earth is a story about love, journalism, ghosts, metallurgy, vintage militaria and large motorcycles set in the badlands of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia. It is about the west’s inability to understand the East; one man’s epic journey across a dying landscape, where “thousands of pairs of eyes peer beyond grimy windowpanes into the moonless sky, looking for something better.”