The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China

The Exact Unknown book coverCook’s erotic-grotesque collection of encounters can’t be beat for its look into the absurdist funhouse mirror of expatriate existence in China“—James Farrer, Opening Up: Youth Sex Culture and Market Reform in Shanghai

Strips away the literary decorum of the old guard of China writers and presents us with an intoxicating, and at times toxic, Chinese cocktail of freshly fashioned creations of flesh and fantasy”—Tom Carter, Unsavory Elements

[A] leading figure in the Mainland expat literary canon“—That’s Shanghai

The writer…has amassed a vault of knowledge, mostly anatomical, making him less China hand and more Chynecologist“—City Weekend

Breaks all taboos…reminiscent of Sing-song Girls of Shanghai“—Susan Blumberg-Kason, Good Chinese Wife

A surreal compilation of tales about sex, love, and money in the Far East“—Kirkus Reviews

Goodreads reviews:

“Full of grotesque universal truths, strange depictions of Eastern modernity, and the proverbial expats caught in the middle…The book is erotic, funny, and sometimes profound.”

“[Cook’s] writing is articulate, unfussy and refreshingly unsentimental, befitting this exploration of many of the surreal and darker daily realities of this fascinating, frenetic country.”

“Cook is not just a very distinctive voice in Asia-based fiction and journalism. In his treatment of sex he is a pioneer, and China writing in English would be much poorer without him.”

“I enjoyed every minute of The Exact Unknown….Not many authors write with such truth, wit and honesty, especially when it comes to writing about China.”

“A collection of [stories] about the idiosyncrasies and idiocies of everyday life in China as seen by a rapt and bemused outsider….All are enjoyable whether you’ve been there or not.”

“Delightful portraits of China and her inner people, hidden beneath the full frontal sexual accomplishments and witty negotiations our author so lovingly shares, along with clear depictions of cultural insight.”

“An honest and intimate look of people meeting and having casual sex. Wow! Intriguing, raw, a bit of humor and drama from the short stories of sexual experiences.”

Amazon reviews:

“Warning, if you are an uptight, born-again Puritan, then this sexy and honest book of short stories might offend you.”

“Every story is engrossing. The author’s insight into Chinese culture and lively rhetorical style make the book hard to put down.”

“How to describe the book, besides mind-blowing: hilarious, fast-paced, unique, honest and erotic.”

“Belongs to the honored tradition that from Catullus reaches Villon and Rabelais to Roald Dahl….Cook is satyrical, cynical, outrageous, brave and knave at the same time, and he has the literary skill to afford it.”

“My favorite stories are those where he describes the gray area between right and wrong in student/teacher relationships….It’s extremely addictive and I read right through in a couple of days. Well worth the read.”

“[Cook’s] sharp eye for detail and his ability to capture the color and sounds of China make his work exceptionally unique and valuable.”

Book description:

A foreign teacher struggles with proper whipping technique on his female student, while another gives his student a mysterious substance known as LSD. In other stories, a sex robot rapes its owner, a female professor trolls cafés minus her underwear, a store clerk softens up a stingy customer with his fist, and a foreigner comprehends all too slowly the home he is visiting is not a family but a scam.

Whether it’s locals colliding with foreigners or with each other on the big chessboard with no rules called China, this pioneering collection of delightfully disturbing tales by one unruly foreigner dredges up comedy blacker than a black hole.

Table of Contents

By Way of Introduction (book only)

The Persistent
When one gets involved with women of the obsessive variety

The Exact Unknown
A casual affair with a student engenders inexplicable difficulties

The Apology
Communication problems at a gift shop spiral out of control

iProstitution: the granting of romantic or sexual favors in exchange for the latest Apple product

Incident at Dongwuyuan Fuzhuang Shichang
The nuisance of the uncooperative customer

There She Blows!
A seductress accumulates victims in the cafés of Beijing and Shanghai

The Mistress
The joys of commanding more than one woman

The Mean and the Angry
A provocation on the Beijing subway

What You Know, You Know
When we must resort to the whip

A Little Accident
The Chinese art of “pulling noodles”

A class of female university students are featured in a nude painting exhibition for which they never posed

Restaurant Time Warp
A distressing experience in a Beijing restaurant which keeps slipping back in time

Good Teacher, Bad Teacher
A Chinese English department grows ever more dependent on a foreign teacher found not to its liking

The Catch
The more is known about a Shandong woman, the more unknowable she becomes

The Curious Benefits of Neurosis
A sex addict sets out to visit every massage parlor in China

Jia (Home)
A visit to a Chinese home boggles the imagination

Let the Sunshine In
A foreigner turns a Chinese girl on, a bit hastily, to LSD

The Hickey
An orally induced tattoo has consequences for the woman administering it

A sexbot needs returning to the shop for recalibration

A hermaphrodite explains the Tao

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