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Non-Fiction

Review: The New Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

‘All roads used to lead to Rome. Today, they lead to Beijing.’ The subject of history is one that concerns politics, economics, and philosophy. Lessons from the past teach us how to proceed into the future. And yet, for so long, books on history have been simply that. Recently, however, a trend has emerged amongst historians: experts in world events of the past have...

japan story geisha

Review: Japan Story (1850-present)

Japan Story by Christopher Harding For any curious lover of history, searching for an enlightening but comprehensive history of Japan, there are many places to look. Just last year, Jonathan Clements published his excellent A Brief History of Japan, which does exactly as it says on the tin. Another book to capture the hearts of many a Japanophile is David Pilling’s...

Kabuki Masks Japan

Review: Lost Japan by Alex Kerr

Written by Alex Kerr | Translated by Bodhi Fishman Japan Today Wherever you were born and raised, you know that World War II changed everything. You may not have been alive before WWII to know this first hand, but you studied history and you spoke to your grandparents who likely lived through a recession, and possibly a subsequent economic boom depending on where you...

Review: Yiyun Li’s ‘Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life’

  In an interview with fivebooks.com, Yiyun Li discussed the concept of the ‘anti-memoir’. This term came around because, as Li put it in the interview, “[…] there has to be a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ – an epiphany. But to me, all these things are artificial. Life is lived in a much messier way.” This rather perfectly encapsulates the issue that Li, and many...

Review: How Jung Chang’s Wild Swans Made Me A Better Laowai

Before I lived in Tokyo and Seoul, I lived in Shanghai. Expats and locals alike in Tokyo and Seoul have joked with me more than once about the harshness of Chinese culture and the unpleasantness of life there; jokes such as: ‘On the Seoul subway, keep your voice down. You don’t want to be a Chinese tourist!’ and ‘I know I could save more money living in China, but...