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 […]

Lust & Philosophy • Isham Cook

By |November 3rd, 2016|

Lust & Philosophy is Isham Cook’s first novel and radically different from his other books. Isham’s previously published works were anthologies of either short stories or critical essays, but this time he has attempted to create a full-length semi-autobiographical novel with academic references so deep you’ll need an excavator to […]

Massage and the Writer • Isham Cook

By |November 2nd, 2016|

Whether you’ll enjoy Isham’s Massage and the Writer depends on how open-minded you are. If you’re conservative – either of the traditional “thou shall not covet thy neighbour” type, or the more malignant PC liberal type that views any intimate encounters between white men and foreigners as some kind of […]

Japan and America: A Contrast • Carl Crow

By |October 9th, 2016|

Japan and America (1916) is a forceful warning about Japan’s diplomatic duplicity and its expansionist plans. Carl Crow (1883–1945), an American newspaperman based in Shanghai, was vehemently anti-Japan, but his strident tone seems justified given how subsequent events unfolded. He ends the book with a prophetic prediction:
In their hearts the […]

Author Interview • Ken Berglund

By |September 18th, 2016|

Californian Ken Berglund spent four and a half years in Taiwan working as an English teacher, the subject of his first book, An American Teacher in Taiwan (read my review of the book here). He married a local lass, had two kids, and then moved back to America with his […]

An American Teacher in Taiwan • Ken Berglund

By |September 18th, 2016|

It’s easy to forget how overwhelming the first days of your new life in Asia can be; the crushing language barrier makes simple things like ordering a meal an ordeal; learning to navigate the public transportation system happens one mistake at a time; and that “easy to find” job can […]

Watching Big Brother: Political Cartoons by Badiucao • China Digital Times

By |September 13th, 2016|

In the lead-up to the fortieth anniversary of Mao Zedong’s death (September 9, 1976), controversy raged in an unlikely place. Among the Chinese community in Australia there was a divisive argument about two Mao tribute concerts planned for Sydney and Melbourne. Australia-based Chinese cartoonist Badiucao expressed his disgust:

Badiucao is one of […]

The Gunners of Shenyang • Yu Jihui

By |September 8th, 2016|

How best to capture in print the madness of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution? Should a writer focus on a village, or zoom in on an individual’s plight? How about a multi-generation family saga for an epic sweep? Perhaps a detached analytical approach drawing heavily on statistics […]

A Decent Bottle of Wine in China • Chris Ruffle

By |September 7th, 2016|

Establishing a winery in an exotic locale is the kind of project we might daydream about, but one we have the good sense not to actually pursue. Englishman Chris Ruffle didn’t have such sense. Rather, he made his mission even harder by doing it in China, and from scratch, and, […]

Nemesis: The First Iron Warship and her World • Adrian G. Marshall

By |August 30th, 2016|

Among the ranks of history’s most iconic warships – the likes of HMS Victory, the USS Missouri, and the German dreadnought Bismarck – stands proudly the immortal Nemesis. The first iron-hulled warship in the East, it was employed with devastating effect in the First Opium War (1839–1841). Its debut was […]