The Last Gods of Indochine • Samuel Ferrer

By |January 7th, 2017|

The ruins of Angkor are Southeast Asia’s most spectacular historical attraction. Still awe-inspiring despite the tourist hordes, they have inspired surprisingly few novels.

Angkor is the main setting for Samuel Ferrer’s The Last Gods of Indochine, a historical drama combining two storylines separated by six centuries; one story is set in […]

In Search of Japan’s Hidden Christians: A Story of Suppression, Secrecy and Survival • John Dougill

By |December 30th, 2016|

I read so many excellent books that it’s hard to name a favourite, but seeing as I so often ask people to recommend a book they’ve read recently and to also choose an all-time favourite, it’s only fair I answer these questions myself. My all-time pick is Nostromo, Joseph Conrad’s […]

Intruder in Mao’s Realm: An Englishman’s eyewitness account of 1970s China • Richard Kirkby

By |December 28th, 2016|

Ever visited places on your overseas travels and felt that you were ten or twenty years too late? I have, often, but not with China. I first went there in 1995 and it was bad enough; a decade or two earlier would have meant even dirtier toilets, even worse transportation, […]

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil • Tim Symonds

By |December 24th, 2016|

Late at night and easing your way through a bottle, have you ever been blessed by a flash of literary genius? Perhaps an idea for a novel, let’s say, a Sherlock Holmes story set in Asia? Alas, you’re hardly halfway through the celebratory follow-up bottle when a few cursory internet […]

China and the New Maoists • Kerry Brown and Simone van Nieuwenhuizen

By |December 21st, 2016|

We’ve all seen pictures featuring the giant portrait of Mao Zedong in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace overlooking Tiananmen Square. But this kind of imagery is surprisingly rare; one of the reasons that particular portrait is so overused is the lack of alternatives to photograph. Forty years after […]

A Very Late Gap Year in Taiwan • P.R. Travis

By |December 20th, 2016|

On Amazon (but not the book itself) this self-published teaching memoir has the subtitle: “I spent one year teaching ESL in Asia, so you don’t have to.” Similarly, a black-hearted reviewer might be tempted to write that he read the book so you don’t have to. However, my policy on […]

Lama of the Gobi: How Mongolia’s Mystic Monk Spread Tibetan Buddhism in the World’s Harshest Desert • Michael Kohn

By |December 18th, 2016|

Name three famous Mongolians. The first two are easy enough: Genghis Khan – arguably the most important man of the last millennium – and then his grandson Kublai Khan, but who else? Into this biographical void comes American journalist Michael Kohn’s Lama of the Gobi, bringing to life an extraordinary […]

Live at the Forbidden City: Musical Encounters in China and Taiwan • Dennis Rea

By |December 17th, 2016|

Between the time when the Maoist stranglehold loosened and the rise of the globalized Internet-connected China, there was an age of undreamed-of possibilities. And unto this came American musician Dennis Rea like a time traveller from the future, guitar in hand, bearing the dubious gifts of progressive rock and free […]

Trickle-Down Censorship: An Outsider’s Account of Working Inside China’s Censorship Regime • JFK Miller

By |December 13th, 2016|

China’s censors can be a sensitive bunch.

Once upon a time, I worked as an “Editorial Assistant” on a tier-2 city expat rag. Though little more than a glorified copy writer and far removed from the forefront of cutting journalism (my biggest scoop was tracking down the reservation number of a […]

Taiwanese Grammar: A Concise Reference • Philip T. Lin

By |December 2nd, 2016|

At some point back in the mists of time (2009ish), when I was actively learning Taiwanese, my most frequently repeated complaint was the lack of a decent Taiwanese reference grammar (in any language). This lack has now been comprehensively remedied by the release of Philip T. Lin’s Taiwanese Grammar: A […]