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The Shikoku Pilgrimage: Japan’s Sacred Trail • John Lander

This illustrated book of Japan’s most famous pilgrimage, which connects 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi (774–835), is like a serene stroll around a beautiful Japanese garden, and one in the company of a genial host. John Lander's images are – as befits the subject manner – [...]

China’s Leaders: From Mao to Now • David Shambaugh

“Compared to…?” It’s a useful retort, a shorthand way of asking for context. “The world today is so unstable!” “Compared to when?“ “Is your mother-in-law nice?” “Compared to what?” And when it comes to an assessment of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his era, a comparative approach is an efficient [...]

The Eunuch • Jonathan Kos-Read 

An ambitious debut novel from a handsome actor turned aspiring novelist? I must admit I started reading The Eunuch wondering if it would prove a triumph of fan sales expectations over the quality of writing. After an initial hook of interest from the set-up, it took a little time to get [...]

Our Home in Myanmar: Four Years in Yangon • Jessica Mudditt

Our Home in Myanmar: Four Years in Yangon is a delightful read, both an accessible introduction to Myanmar and a candid behind-the-scenes look at journalism in a developing country. The “our” in the title refers to the author, Jessica Mudditt, a young Australian, and Sherpa, her Bangladeshi husband, whom she met [...]

The Horses of China • Yin Hung Young

China is not usually associated with horses – well, other than being an agrarian civilisation long in opposition to the nomadic horse peoples of Central Asia – and yet it has a rich equestrian history and culture, as detailed in breadth and depth in Yin Hung Young’s The Horses of [...]

Pearl City: Stories from Japan and Elsewhere • Simon Rowe

There are good reasons why publishers’ submission guidelines often include a warning that short story collections are unwanted. The literary form is seldom bought, little read, and usually badly written. While I wouldn’t go as far to say that a writer’s preference for short stories is a sign of moral [...]

Tales of Ming Courtesans • Alice Poon

Tales of Ming Courtesans is a moving story about the strength of female friendships. The novel, set in the tumultuous last years of the Ming dynasty, follows the fortunes of three girls, all victims of the flesh trade, who, through their beauty and talents, become celebrated courtesans. They form a sworn sisterhood [...]

I Beheld the Mountains • Joseph and Wilhelmina Payne

On a bitterly cold December morning in 1932, in the frontier city of Kalgan (Zhangjiakou), which lies about two hundred kilometers northwest of Peking, a young protestant missionary couple passed through the chaotic city streets and gates. In two horse-drawn carts, they joined a caravan of camels and carts wending [...]