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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 [...]

Western Queers in China: Flight to the Land of Oz • D.E. Mungello

I was recently working on a book chapter about Western authors who had lived in pre-communist Peking – the likes of Edmund Backhouse, George Kates, Harold Acton, David Kidd – and I was struggling to come up with an interesting frame. Rather than a straightforward series of  chronological biographies, I [...]

Nonlocal: Youth and Night • Christophe Bolduc

Nonlocal, an intense, quirky work of literary fiction, is the story of two men a generation apart in age, and how their lives interact and their stories overlap and echo. There is Korean American Kohlhaas, who I assume is about eighteen years old, straddling two identities (American and Korean), at [...]