The Green Phoenix • Alice Poon

By |October 4th, 2017|

Taking us from the Mongolian steppes to China’s imperial court, The Green Phoenix is an epic historical novel chronicling the life of a remarkable woman who shaped the founding decades of the Qing dynasty. In 1625 twelve-year-old Mongol Princess Bumbutai becomes a consort of Hong Taiji, soon to be the […]

A Taipei Mutt • Eric Mader

By |October 3rd, 2017|

I started the book with the question “What the hell is this?” and finished it with the question “What the hell have I just read?” To describe Eric Mader’s engrossing, fearless novel as extremely unusual doesn’t come close. A Taipei Mutt is a difficult book to make sense of, to […]

Dateline Mongolia: An American Journalist in Nomad’s Land • Michael Kohn

By |October 2nd, 2017|

“I hated Mongolia!” a seasoned traveller and fellow long-time resident of Taiwan once admitted to me. A person not liking a particular country might seem unremarkable, but this was veteran Lonely Planet guidebook writer Robert Storey, the author of the first ever LP Mongolia guide. His controversial 1993 book was […]

Katsuren: An Okinawan love story • Celine Nisaragi

By |October 2nd, 2017|

In this charming low-key romance between a young American woman archaeologist and a Japanese journalist, the Okinawan settings come to life as characters in their own right. There are the ruins of Katsuren Castle, giving the novel its title, and the remote island of Yonaguni, especially fascinating to a Taiwan […]

The Unquiet Daughter • Danielle Flood   

By |September 23rd, 2017|

My favourite book of the year, The Unquiet Daughter is a beautifully written, big-hearted memoir of a daughter’s search for her biological father.

Danielle Flood was born in Saigon in 1951 but grew up in the United States, where her parents divorced when she was eight. Four years later her mother […]

Author Interview: Brian Burke-Gaffney

By |September 22nd, 2017|

Brian Burke-Gaffney is the leading Western expert on the history of Nagasaki and one of the most prolific foreign writers in Japan. A second-generation Canadian from Winnipeg, Burke-Gaffney first came to Japan in 1972 and trained for nine years as a Zen monk. A resident of Nagasaki since 1982, he has […]

Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow • Ben Bland

By |August 15th, 2017|

Generation HK is a fantastic read for anyone interested in contemporary Hong Kong or Taiwan. The former British colony is a weathervane – or supposed showcase – for Taiwan’s prospective future under the loving embrace of Motherland China’s “one country, two systems” principle. Unfortunate then that the PRC is like […]

Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day • Paul French

By |August 7th, 2017|

When did the Second World War begin? The conventional date is September 1, 1939, with Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland and the subsequent declarations of war by France and the United Kingdom on the third of the month. However, with a growing appreciation for China’s important wartime role, historians are increasingly looking to the Second Sino-Japanese […]

The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the birth of globalisation 1565–1815 • Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales 

By |July 12th, 2017|

 

 This small book – a Penguin Special weighing in at a hundred pages – packs a punch, and though no more than an afternoon’s easy reading, it may well alter the way you think about the history of China and globalization.

The “Silver Way” in the title refers to the “Ruta […]

Through the Looking Glass: China’s Foreign Journalists from Opium Wars to Mao • Paul French

By |July 12th, 2017|

Late at night and deep into research – i.e. drinking heavily while trawling the Internet – I was becoming increasingly convinced that my idea for a book was a brilliant one. Yes, I would retrace Peter Fleming’s journey from Peking to Kashmir described in his 1936 travel classic News From […]