It has now been about half a year since Maura Cunningham started a new position with the Association for Asian Studies and switched from being a co-editor of to an occasional contributor to this blog, so this seemed a good time to check in with her about her new job. It is also an apt moment to check in with her about her activities as a writer, since she has an article in the latest issue of the World Policy Journal. Continue reading
By Sam Metz
Abdellah Taïa was born in a public library and grew up in Salé, the poorer, twin city that sits across the Bou Regreg River from Rabat. Though he now resides in France and hasn’t lived in Morocco for almost 20 years, it still figures largely in his fiction, which is often about “that specific time at the beginning of adolescence when […] you see what they want you to be, and how you are going to escape it.” Continue reading
By Pamela Avila
On November 9th, 2016 we woke up to sexism, racism, bigotry, and hate. We woke up a divided country.
While some of us woke up with a bitter taste on our tongues, in denial, and scared — others woke up safe, with a newfound sense of hope in our country, and a determination to “Make America Great Again.” Others woke up to a call to action. Continue reading
In last week’s post, three regular contributors to the China Blog gave suggestions for books dealing with Chinese themes that would make good holiday gifts. Next week’s post will take the form of a sequel, offering recommendations for last minute present shopping. So, it seems fitting that this post, which falls between, is an interview with the author of a very appealing book on China that would also be good to give to someone on your to-buy-for list. Published in other markets by Penguin last year but only recently available in the U.S., it is titled Dragons in Diamond Village: And Other Tales from the Back Alleys of Urbanising China, and it is by the versatile David Bandurski, an independent journalist, documentary filmmaker, and now book author as well. Bandurski joins me here to discuss recent developments in rural-urban unrest and the state of the Chinese media. Continue reading
By Sam Ribakoff
Sometimes you have to wait for the weight of a novel to hit you. Other times, you read a novel set 44 years in the future that’s about fake news, citizens having no trust in the media or government institutions, a refugee crisis, and an authoritarian police department, and those 44 years don’t feel so far away. Continue reading
I’ve been a fan of Pallavi Aiyar’s writing since 2008. Back then, she was based in Beijing, reporting for the Hindu as its first Mandarin-speaking correspondent, and had just published her debut book, Smoke and Mirrors: An Experience of China, a prizewinning work that received many positive reviews — including one that I wrote for Foreign Policy. I have continued to read her regularly since she has moved on from China to first Brussels, then Jakarta, and now Tokyo, publishing a novel and several new non-fiction books along the way. I managed to catch up by email recently with the peripatetic and prolific Pallavi, who was incidentally among the first journalists that China Beat interviewed after that precursor to this blog was launched in 2008, and asked her to tell us more about her most recent books, Babies and Bylines and Choked, both 2016 publications. Continue reading
Love and Radio is a podcast with episodes that, like good art films, you can return to again and again and always find details you missed. It’s the opposite of the radio documentary that assumes listeners are only half there; every bit of the story structure and every bit of the sound design is meticulously crafted, so you don’t want to miss a single detail. The show covers a broad range of people: a “humiliatrix”; a former bicycle racer and reformed bank robber; a black pianist who befriended and convinced KKK members to give up their robes; a writer with poetic voyeurism. Continue reading
By Sean McCoy
When I found Doug McGray after the Pop-Up Magazine show in Los Angeles on November 3, he was surrounded by a queue of eager attendees. They approached and he shook hands in bunches, chatting and fielding questions. His voice was hoarse by the time I pulled him aside, but what he lacked in his vocal cords he made up for with enthusiasm, seeming to channel the energy around us — the throng pressing close, vibrating with cheer, while people threaded the lobby in search of friends, performers, another drink from the bar.
“My bite is much worse than my bark,” says Helen Ellis, whose sweet voice, bubbly personality, and gracious manners, make her seem like your typical book club-hosting Upper East Side housewife. But once you read Ellis’s short story collection American Housewife, you learn that Ellis has a sharp tongue and a dark side. Speaking with her, I learned that she also has a penchant for gambling and a soft spot for reality TV, and that most of her villians (and heroes) are inspired by her own personality. Continue reading
April Ayers Lawson’s first collection of stories, Virgin and Other Stories (out November 1st from Farar, Straus and Giroux), embodies anew the Southern Gothic, with its twisted, oft-hackneyed Christian traditions, sexual hunger, and isolated yearning. In today’s secular literary climate, transgressive and unnerving fiction from a Christian Southern author is a rare find — and rarer still is the quality of subjects and craft in these stories. Virgin and Other Stories emerges from a brilliant young mind, living open-eyed through transgression. Continue reading