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 needContinue reading “Review #28: China After Mao”

Review #18: China 1949

A confession: the period 1946-49 is a weak spot in my knowledge of 20th century Chinese history, and I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that. In mainstream English language histories, which tend to take a broad sweep, it often gets summarised as ‘and then the civil war restarted in earnest, and the Communists won’:Continue reading “Review #18: China 1949”

Review #17: Monkey King

Look who’s back! Occasionally I reflect just what an elegant and complementary group the Big Four Classic Novels are. I generally don’t like anything so reductive and it always feels a bit rough on those great works that don’t make the cut, but aren’t they just a perfect little group, covering the breadth of (proto-)genres?Continue reading “Review #17: Monkey King”

Review #16: The Message

Mai Jia’s The Message, which is just out in the UK in paperback through Head of Zeus, has sat very patiently on my to-read pile for much of the year, and finally reached the top just before Christmas which, predictably, added about a dozen new books to that pile. I’d been looking forward to itContinue reading “Review #16: The Message”

Review #14: Fate

Something I love about reading modern Chinese fiction in English now is that, compared to when I first started haunting bookshops, so much genre fiction is available. I have no hard evidence of this – perhaps one for a future deep dive – but browse in a large bookshop or on publishers’ or agents’ websitesContinue reading “Review #14: Fate”


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