Outside reading: links to articles and interviews


“The Vietnam war airman who dodged a million bullets”: Don Harten survived more than 300 combat missions during the Vietnam war, one of which ended with a ditching in the South China Sea in a super typhoon. In new book Midair, the flyer’s nephew documents a charmed life and a raid that may have ended hostilities before they had really begun — in the South China Morning Post



“How Jews once ran Shanghai, the ‘wicked old Paris of the East’”: Montreal writer’s new book ‘Shanghai Grand’ spotlights a long and varied list of Jewish characters who helped drive the WWII haven’s dramatic bygone era — in the Times of Israel.


MONTREAL — Sitting in his daily perch in a café on Montreal’s east side, writer Taras Grescoe is a world away — both in place and time — from the focus of his new non-fiction book. In Shanghai Grand, he recreates the long-vanished glamor and opium-fed decadence of the Chinese metropolis in the 1930s. It was a time when it was known as the “wicked old Paris of the East,” and, as he discovered in the course of research, it was also a doomed world in which Jews had a starring role.


Our review of Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue in a Doomed World by Taras Grescoe.



“Reimagining the Dutch colonial era through fiction”: he Dutch colonial era is significant because it left many written records by officials, ship captains and missionaries. These two books are valuable contributions to the understanding of life in Taiwan during the 17th Century — in the Taipei Times:


[I]t is thus quite remarkable that in the Netherlands recently, two writers each published a novel (in Dutch) about events in Taiwan during the period of Dutch rule, from 1624 to 1662. The first is Formosa voorgoed verloren (Formosa lost forever) by Joyce Bergvelt, and the second is Niet zonder tranen; het strijdbare leven van Arnoldus Winsemius (Not without tears, the combative life of Arnoldus Winsemius) by Pieter Winsemius.



“New Penguin Classic ‘The Story of Hong Gildong’, Is More Than ‘Korean Robin Hood’”: NBC News interviews Minsoo Kang, the translator of The Story of Hong Gildong.


Our review of The Story of Hong Gildong.



“11 (translated) Arabic books to read with teens: Time to let children, teens, and young adults engage with Arabic literature in translation” by Marcia Lynx Qualey in Your Middle East:


The importance of having children, teens, and young adults engage with literature in translation — literature from other traditions, that builds on different discussions — is an essay for another day. But it is even more essential with Arabic literature, where books are so often treated as anthropological exercises (so why shouldn’t they be written by any “scientist”?).



“Readers offered glimpse into realities of North Korea via Inspector O” from the AP in the Japan Times:


The hero, a police inspector, prowls a city known more for its political malevolence than its street crime. If you read the local newspapers, you could think it’s a city with almost no crime at all. There have been no murders reported there for years, no bank robberies, no muggings, no rapes.
The city is Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, which has long hidden so many realities beneath layers of propaganda and isolation.


Our reviews of the Inspector O novels A Drop of Chinese Blood and Blood and Bamboo by James Church