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Non-Fiction

Review: Happening by Annie Ernaux (A Narrative Biography on Abortion)

It can be a tall order to expect, or even demand, of someone respect for the past. For example, telling a modern-day British woman that she must vote, must understand parliamentary procedure, must make her voice heard, because her foremothers fought and died for the right to vote a century ago is a rough task. …

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Review: The Collected Schizophrenias (Essays) by Esmé Weijun Wang

In this moving collection of essays on living with schizophrenia, Esmé Weijun Wang looks back at her own life; examines the cultural zeitgeist surrounding mental health, and explores the science and stories surrounding schizophrenia in the 21st century. Mental health has become less and less of a stigma in the West over the past several …

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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 …

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Review: Japan Story by Christopher Harding

For any curious lover of history, searching for an enlightening but comprehensive history of Japan, like what’s found here in Japan Story, 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 …

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Review: China in Ten Words by Yu Hua

One thing that is globally known about China, and is undeniably true, is its strict censorship laws and the control which the government has over its media, stretching as far as its social networks. Censorship in China I remember being in Shanghai in 2015 when a tragic accident occurred in Tianjin as an explosion took …

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Review: Lost Japan by Alex Kerr

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 are from. …

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

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 …

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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 …

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