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Bury What We Cannot Take • Kirstin Chen

Kirstin Chen’s novel Bury What We Cannot Take unfolds like a dream sequence, following the fictional fortunes of a southern Chinese family torn apart in 1957, eight years after the Communists’ victory and on the cusp of the Great Leap Forward. The violence and trauma visited upon millions of innocent Chinese […]

By |May 24th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island • Cathy Erway

The standout successful English-language book about Taiwan in recent years – well, other than the perennial chart-topping Lonely Planet travel guide – has been Cathy Erway’s The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island. Normally I would read such a bestseller right away, if not from interest, then at […]

By |April 25th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Ghost Month: A Taipei Night Market Novel • Ed Lin

 

Ed Lin’s Ghost Month (2014) incorporates several quintessential Taiwanese elements – religious superstitions, gangsters, night markets, and betel-nut girls – into a murder mystery. It’s set during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar (typically falling in August), a time when the dead roam the world of the living. The spirits […]

By |April 23rd, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Flight to Formosa • Frank Clune

In the years after China’s “Liberation” (as an aside, China’s “liberation” should always be used with quotation marks) a steady stream of leftist visitors paid court to Mao Zedong’s PRC and came away enthusiastically repeating CCP propaganda. Likewise, there were many “useful idiots” on the right who returned from stage-managed […]

By |April 23rd, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Taiwan: A Travel Guide for Vegans • Jesse Duffield

Taiwanese Nazis? That’s sometimes the initial confused impression visitors get when seeing a shop sign swastika. The visitor soon reads or is told that it’s an ancient Buddhist symbol (which Hitler reversed) and it is associated with vegetarian restaurants: find a reversed swastika and you’ve found yourself vegetarian food. However, […]

By |April 21st, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir • Paul French

City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir is a masterpiece, one that could probably only have been written by Paul French. This narrative non-fiction account of Western gangsters in 1930s Shanghai is I think his best work – even better than Midnight in Peking, which was an investigation into the unsolved […]

By |April 9th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

The Accidental Citizen-Soldier: The Story of an American in the Korean Army • Young Chun

For many of us expats, a trip to the immigration office can be stressful. Apart from the hassle of paperwork, there’s always the possibility of some nasty little surprise – a new regulation, a bureaucratic screw-up, an obscure regulation unknowingly violated – which results in you rushing off to get […]

By |April 4th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Shanghai Lawyer • Norwood F. Allman

Shanghai Lawyer. It’s an uninspiring title and even the author’s name – Norwood F. Allman – has the dullness of an accountant about it. But Allman was very much more than just a lawyer, and his memoir is one of my all-time favourites. For breadth and depth of experience during […]

By |March 9th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Hong Kong on the Brink: An American Diplomat Relives 1967’s Darkest Days • Syd Goldsmith

Perhaps I’ve just been unlucky in the books I’ve read, but, heavens above, diplomats are among the very dullest of writers. They have a tendency to self-importance, unnecessary detail, and verbosity, and, although their professional life calls for a certain mastery of language, too often their skill for saying a […]

By |March 5th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Ulaanbaatar beyond Water and Grass: A Guide to the Capital of Mongolia • M. A. Aldrich

One of the world’s most distinctive cities, Ulaanbaatar finally has the book it deserves. Although Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar are bywords for remoteness, the city has for centuries been an important regional center, resulting in a fascinating mix of traditional and modern, local and foreign influences.

Aldrich, an American lawyer and writer […]

By |February 28th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments