A few maps put Paul French’s “true crime” story in perspective.
Chungking: China’s heart of darkness
A brief history of travel in China and the challenges of inhospitality.
Out of the squalor and into the light: When the Shanghai wall came down
Glimmers of Shanghai’s modernity in a 19th-century courtesan novel.
The breasts of Bali: An update
Things are grim on the ground but the tradition lives on in pictures.
Confucius and opium
An investigation of intoxicants in the time of Confucius.
Multilingualism and the time travel novel
Writers who play carelessly with time may leave the language in tatters.
The expat and the prostitute: Four classic novels, 1956–62
Reviews of McKenna’s The Sand Pebbles, Mason’s The World of Suzie Wong, Arsan’s Emmanuelle, and Reynolds’ A Woman from Bangkok.
Isham Cook on Twitter
Literary disruptions of an American in China.
After long experience in East and Southeast Asia, the author turns his attention to the massage scene in his home country.
The Kitchens of Canton. A novel
Dystopian satire distilling the worst of our present and future into a strangely seductive maze of a story.
Massage diary: Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam
Wending my way through Mekong River territory to sample some of the world’s most varied massage offerings.
Updating the great Chinese socialist realist novel
Satirical review of the latest addition to Chinese socialist realist fiction.
Facebook, rococo vulvas, and the pornographic imagination
What happens when wayward algorithms are allowed to censor content on social media.
Magic Theater Books on Facebook
Isham Cook’s latest books and blogs and other news on related topics.
American Rococo: Essays on the Edge
Essays on Western culture ranging from the last Ice Age to the Renaissance to contemporary America’s obsessions and hysterias.