Thank You, Mr Nixon, Gish Jen’s latest work of fiction, comprises eleven loosely linked short stories essentially about people in the flow of a modern Chinese diaspora.
The question of how a state committed to Communism became the world’s biggest trading nation in markets dominated largely by capitalist countries, controlling industries and setting prices, has long been puzzling. Author Jason M Kelly, in Market Maoists, provides a sober, detailed account of the way modern China came to see that global trade could be a way to “fortify socialism … rather than degrade it.”
A novel set in capitalist Hong Kong in the 1960s and steeped in alcohol, prostitution and stream-of-consciousness narration might not suggest a controlled work of fiction. Yet Liu Yichang’s classic The Drunkard, in Charlotte Chun-lam Yiu’s new translation, is measured, uninhibited and very good.
Made in Hong Kong seeks to reframe the city’s role in the modern history of US foreign policy and globalization by focusing on a group of “mobile, pragmatic, and adaptive” Chinese elites author Peter E Hamilton calls kuashang, or “straddling merchants”. An academic study of families whose profitable relationships straddled the US, colonial Hong Kong and China, the book provides another perspective on how this small, crowded city’s economy grew so strong so fast in the decades before the handover.
In Crime, Justice and Punishment in Colonial Hong Kong, authors May Holdsworth and Christopher Munn use the intersection of the city’s former main police station, magistracy and jail—now the photogenic and commercial Tai Kwun—to tell a unique history of the city under British rule.
Jeong You-jeong’s Seven Years of Darkness opens in 2011 with young Choi Sowon living in Lighthouse Village, South Korea. The place is so remote GPS can’t locate it and so out of date that the president of its youth-club is sixty-one years old.
The name Taikoo—or Taigu in Mandarin—means “great and ancient” and was adopted by John Swire & Sons in China in the 19th century when the UK company was relatively new and still minor. Historian Robert Bickers’s latest book tells the story of how this Liverpool trading house that initially dealt in cotton, apples and turpentine from America became an international conglomerate centered in Asia.