Chinese writer Jia Pingwa is rooted in his own origin story. He says in the Afterword to his most recent novel in English translation, Broken Wings, “Your birthplace has determined who you are,” and that here, “I have written about myself, and only myself.” Jia is from Shaanxi Province, which has places so remote that they can barely even be said to be forgotten, as they exist suspended in their own time and space.
Political scientists who study international relations often seek to discern patterns of state behavior from history and to formulate theories or typologies to explain that behavior. Such an approach can contribute to our understanding of why states behave as they do, but human action never wholly conforms to neat formulas.
Andrew Shaw was for many years a “trouble shooter” television journalist in the employ of the BBC. His job required him to pick up and fly to wherever whatever piece of news was breaking. After what many would regard as an enviable pursuit of exhaustive and widely varied paid foreign travel, he tired of it largely because his calling denied him the underlying exotica of his destinations.
Under Red Skies is being plugged as the first English-language memoir by a Chinese millennial, which already sets it apart from other books about China’s younger generation. Books like Alec Ash’s Wish Lanterns or Zak Dychtwald’s Young China, for all of their merits, were written by expats. In contrast, Chinese-born Karoline Kan tells the story of her life from its beginning in her own words.
Kerry Brown has earned a reputation as one of the most prolific and yet reasonable commentators on China. In The Future of UK-China Relations, he turns his eye on his home country.
In 2006, the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman penned a now-notorious column titled “The Taxi Driver”. In it, Friedman recounts a cab ride from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in which, to Friedman’s disappointment, the driver neglects to engage in conversation with his eminent passenger.
Bertil Lintner, in his enlightening new book The Costliest Pearl, describes today’s struggle for supremacy in the Indian Ocean as a new Great Game, or alternatively, a new Cold War. The major contestants are China, the United States and India, but subsidiary powers such as Australia, France, and Japan are also involved.