Charlie Reads China

Books about China

Reviews, articles, thoughts about recent fiction and other works


Review #31: The House of Doors

Five years or so ago, I decided to read all of Somerset Maugham’s novels and short stories. It started with a chance encounter – I was attracted to a discounted copy of Of Human Bondage in the Waterloo Foyles after reading something (a Twitter thread perhaps?) about the film adaptation. The little I knew of…

Review #29-30: The Amur River / Black Dragon River

Readers of Chinese history are used to the idea of it as a civilisation shaped by water – not least thanks to Philip Ball’s The Water Kingdom – and dominated by two great rivers in particular. But there is a third to the far north which – currently – forms part of the border with…

Review #28: China After Mao

This review appeared in the November 2022 edition of the Critic magazine Dutch historian Frank Dikötter’s works on Mao, the “People’s Trilogy”, have rightly garnered superlative praise. Through painstaking work in increasingly inaccessible provincial archives, he has documented the horrors of Mao’s rule, made only more chilling through Dikötter’s calm, clear prose and methodical process.  Readers need…