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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 [...]

Maritime Ryukyu, 1050-1650 • Gregory Smits

I’ve always taken Napoleon’s side when it comes to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. No, his ambitions never extended that far east. I’m referring to an 1817 conversation Napoleon – then a captive on the lonely island of Saint Helena – had with British naval officer Captain Basil Hall. As [...]

The Front Lines of the War, and other poems • Scott Ezell

I don’t review poetry. Well, until now. I’m breaking that commandment in posting this review of Scott Ezell’s outstanding poetry chapbook, The Front Lines of the War. The problem with reviewing poetry is I lack the knowledge and ability to appreciate and describe it, and I’m not a big fan of [...]