Sunday 15 September 2019

Ryuko by Eldo Yoshimizu: Femme Fatales, International Intrigue, Organized Crime, and Lots of Guns

As this is my first blog post as a regular contributor, I thought I’d change it up from my other articles – Researching Historical Japan & Researching Old Shanghai. I will continue to write about Asian history, but for now, I’d like to talk about a piece of contemporary Japanese fiction.

Friday 13 September 2019

Guest post: Jonathan Chatwin

Jonathan Chatwin writes on travel, culture and history with a particular focus on China. His first book, Anywhere Out of the World, was a literary biography of the travel writer and novelist Bruce Chatwin. His essays and articles have been published by the British Film Institute, the South China Morning Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Caixin, Studies in Travel Writing and the Asian Review of Books amongst others, and he now writes regularly on Chinese history and culture for a range of publications.

Jonathan's new book, Long Peace Street, intertwines travel and history to tell the story along the so-called Number One Street of China, Chang'an Jie, or the eponymous Long Peace Street, which bisects China's capital, Beijing, and which he walked from end to end.

Here, Jonathan introduces both his book and the street, and explains what inspired his walk.

Thursday 12 September 2019

Leland Cheuk talks to Elaine Chiew about No Good Very Bad Asian, doing stand-up, and why he started 7.13 Books

Courtesy Leland Cheuk

Reading a book that hits hard but also keeps you rolling around in laughter is, to quote Seneca, a res severa est verum gaudium, a "serious joy." I'm delighted to host Leland Cheuk in the Contemporary Voices column. He's funny in his interview, just as he is in his book, and (writing a funny book is no easy peasy lemon squeezy, lemme tell you)...damn, he's just naturally funny!

Welcome Leland Cheuk.

Bio: Leland Cheuk is the author of three books of fiction, including the novels THE MISADVENTURES OF SULLIVER PONG and most recently, NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN, forthcoming from C&R Press in November 2019. His work has appeared in SalonCatapultJoyland MagazineLiterary Hub, among other outlets. He has been awarded fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, Hawthornden Castle, Djerassi, and elsewhere. He runs the indie press 7.13 Books and lives in Brooklyn.You can follow him on Twitter @lcheuk and at   

Courtesy Leland Cheuk

Meet Sirius Lee, a fictive famous Chinese American comedian. He is a no good, very bad Asian. He is not good at math (or any other subject, really). He has no interest in finding a “good Chinese girlfriend.” And he refuses to put any effort into becoming the CEO/Lawyer/Doctor his parents so desperately want him to be. All he wants to do is make people laugh. 

A cross between Paul Beatty's The Sellout and Jade Chang's The Wangs Vs. The World, NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN follows Sirius’s life from his poor, suffocating upbringing in the immigrant enclaves of Los Angeles to the loftiest heights of stardom as he struggles with substance abuse and the prejudice he faces despite his fame. Ultimately, when he becomes a father himself, he must come to terms with who he is, where he came from, and the legacy he'll leave behind.

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Tsundoku #7 - September 2019

Hope your summer went well and you got your tsundoku pile down a little at least? Back to work now, and rebuilding that pile. And so issue #7 of Tsundoku – a column by me, Paul French. This is a kind of ‘back to school’ issue covering both some books that came out over the summer. So, let’s start with some new fiction...

Saturday 7 September 2019

Lion City Lit by Ken Hickson

As Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore, our regular column Lion City Lit explores in-depth what’s going on in the City-State, lit-wise. Here’s what Ken Hickson has for us……

Love’s Labour’s Lost. Literally.

There are so many books to read, review and rifle through these days. And be impressed by  - quite frankly – with the amount and quality of Singapore published authors and the products of the Lion City’s thriving book business. From publisher, printer, distributor and retailer. Plus authors and illustrators of course!

Here’s my selection and a few short ‘review-like’ assessments of each one.  Literature, definitely. Variety, yes. Not necessarily to everyone’s taste, but all worth reading. Or at least flicking through. For many different reasons.  Read on…..

Friday 6 September 2019

Looking ahead: Singapore Writers Festival 2019

The 22nd annual Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) returns this November with the theme A Language of Our Own. This edition seeks to examine the role of languages in the formation of identities and communities at a time when the world is becoming increasingly globalised, yet fractured. The theme invites authors and audiences to reflect on how they talk about different types of language, including non-standard ones such as emojis and Singlish, the local blend of English with words taken from Malay, Tamil and various Chinese dialects. Sessions will explore how, as systems of communication, languages have both the power to create a sense of belonging and also to cause displacement.

Friday 26 July 2019

Summer reading

Asian Books Blog is taking a break until Friday September 6. In the meantime, what will you read if you're visiting Thailand, Taiwan or Vietnam? Cecile Collineau, an independent book consultant based in Singapore, recommends novels you could pack wherever you're going.