Hong Kong is a surprisingly green place: the skyscrapers that form the stunning cityscapes that are the territory’s most common and iconic images hug the coast. Some three-quarters of Hong Kong is in varying degree countryside and 40 percent set aside as parkland.
How is China organized politically? What are the issues that young people face in today’s China? What is China doing about its problem with pollution? Is the Chinese internet like our internet? What’s China’s role in the world today? And how much do you know about China’s great woman emperor or the Chinese explorer whose voyages may have inspired the legend of Sinbad the Sailor? What are the major Chinese holidays, their superstitions regarding numbers, and the true nature of the Chinese written language?
Before I read this wonderfully quirky book of stories, I had never given much thought to such things as trainer bras or lucky dry fruit, both of which feature in two of May-Lee Chai’s stories about Chinese immigrants and their reactions to their experiences in new countries.
“I certainly was not born to history,” Paul Cohen tells us at the very beginning of his book; indeed he wasn’t. He didn’t want to follow his father’s men’s clothing trade, and gave up engineering after one year in university to study the humanities, and even then he did not concentrate on any one part of it. He thought about architecture, then psychiatry and finally the army. None of these, on consideration, were very satisfying, and involved long hours of what seemed to Cohen very boring work.
Despite the not-entirely-rare memoirs, novels, and narratives about Jewish refugees in Shanghai during World War II, it remains a little-known corner of history. Juliet Conlin’s new novel tells a story of two of them.
For those who wring their hands over unpredictable voting results—for a nation’s president or a potential split from a political and economic union—the fixed expectations of Chinese elections may be oddly calming. Joshua Hill’s new book, Voting as a Rite: A History of Elections in Modern China, offers a tour of Chinese elections going back over a century, arguing that influential policy makers have favored the notion that voters should be unencumbered by real choices and, armed with an understanding of their political station, essentially head to polls in a “rite” that serves the state’s interests.
Brian Eyler isn’t a fan of dams, perhaps any of them, but at least not those that are, or may be, on the Mekong.