Jonathan Chatwin

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Latest from Jonathan Chatwin

How autocrats weaponise history to create parallel realities, and why nationalist mythmaking didn’t work for Trump or Johnson

Flag-waving appeals to historical greatness are countered in Western democracies by other voices, but what happens when the state’s fantasy version of history is ‘the only story you can tell’?

Flag-waving appeals to historical greatness are countered in Western democracies by other voices, but what happens when the state’s fantasy version of history is ‘the only story you can tell’?

29 Apr 2022 - 10:37PM
Review | Novel gives voice to the girls Mao Zedong had sex with, in the powerful form of a confessional

Vanessa Hua’s Forbidden City cleverly frames its subject matter in the form of a confessional by the fictional Mei Xiang, whisked off the dance floor at China’s Zhongnanhai leadership compound and into a notorious side room.

Vanessa Hua’s Forbidden City cleverly frames its subject matter in the form of a confessional by the fictional Mei Xiang, whisked off the dance floor at China’s Zhongnanhai leadership compound and into a notorious side room.

22 Apr 2022 - 7:15PM
Review | Will Cantonese struggle to survive like Welsh, Hawaiian and Tibetan languages? Author predicts a rough road ahead

Putonghua - the common tongue of northern Chinese - established a ‘dictatorship’ in China under Communist rule, writes James Griffiths, threatening Cantonese with the same fate as other suppressed languages.

Putonghua - the common tongue of northern Chinese - established a ‘dictatorship’ in China under Communist rule, writes James Griffiths, threatening Cantonese with the same fate as other suppressed languages.

4 Dec 2021 - 4:15PM
The Shortest History of China author Linda Jaivin on her goal: to tell ‘the whole story of China in a super readable way for normal people’

Writer set out to tell ‘the whole story of China in a super readable way for normal people’, and her 250-page book The Shortest History of China does so by focusing on individual stories.

Writer set out to tell ‘the whole story of China in a super readable way for normal people’, and her 250-page book The Shortest History of China does so by focusing on individual stories.

11 Sep 2021 - 6:15PM
Living in the US, ‘operating in Chinese’: a bitter childhood recalled without judgment in Anna Qu’s memoir Made in China

Summoned from China, neglected, then put to work in a sweatshop at 15, Anna Qu had a traumatic childhood. Was it abuse, she wonders in a memoir that notably avoids passing judgment on her mother.

Summoned from China, neglected, then put to work in a sweatshop at 15, Anna Qu had a traumatic childhood. Was it abuse, she wonders in a memoir that notably avoids passing judgment on her mother.

24 Jul 2021 - 7:45PM
Review | Liang Hong’s bestseller on rural Chinese life is a lucid account of those left behind by China’s modernisation

China in One Village, Liang Hong’s 2010 bestseller on rural Chinese life that pioneered a trend of non-fiction exploring identity and place in China, receives the translation it deserves.

China in One Village, Liang Hong’s 2010 bestseller on rural Chinese life that pioneered a trend of non-fiction exploring identity and place in China, receives the translation it deserves.

19 Jun 2021 - 7:15PM
Review | In My Old Home, academic Orville Schell turns to fiction to make sense of China’s Cultural Revolution

Academic Orville Schell turns to fiction with new novel because ‘so much of what animates [China] is almost impossible to convey in non-fiction.

Academic Orville Schell turns to fiction with new novel because ‘so much of what animates [China] is almost impossible to convey in non-fiction.

3 Apr 2021 - 11:45AM
Review | Monkey King brought vibrantly to life for 21st century readers by translator Julia Lovell

Julia Lovell’s accessible new English translation of the Chinese classic novel, Journey to the West, brings its irrepressible hero, Monkey, vibrantly to life for 21st century readers. 

Julia Lovell’s accessible new English translation of the Chinese classic novel, Journey to the West, brings its irrepressible hero, Monkey, vibrantly to life for 21st century readers. 

27 Feb 2021 - 6:41AM
Review | The Story of China: historian Michael Woods presents a sweeping tale in fewer than 600 pages

Telling the history of China in fewer than 600 pages inevitably involves compromises, but Michael Wood’s evocative and readable book swoops through the dynasties with both broad strokes and personal stories.

Telling the history of China in fewer than 600 pages inevitably involves compromises, but Michael Wood’s evocative and readable book swoops through the dynasties with both broad strokes and personal stories.

7 Dec 2020 - 5:58PM
Review | Himalaya: A Human History looks beyond the stereotypes harboured by the West

In a chronologically and geographically ambitious book, Ed Douglas explores the the vast, rich and often misunderstood region.

In a chronologically and geographically ambitious book, Ed Douglas explores the the vast, rich and often misunderstood region.

31 Aug 2020 - 4:20PM
Review | The real rise of Shenzhen: how people, not just policies, shaped China’s ‘fishing village turned megalopolis’ explained in new book

The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story of China’s Instant City by Juan Du details how the real story of Shenzhen is not simply one of reforms and policies, but a collection of stories of personal struggles and redemptions.

The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story of China’s Instant City by Juan Du details how the real story of Shenzhen is not simply one of reforms and policies, but a collection of stories of personal struggles and redemptions.

12 Jan 2020 - 6:34PM
What Beijing’s most important street, Changan Avenue, reveals about the Chinese capital’s past and present

A stroll along Long Peace Street – where old and new collide – offers a glimpse into China’s fascinating history.

A stroll along Long Peace Street – where old and new collide – offers a glimpse into China’s fascinating history.

3 Aug 2019 - 11:01AM