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Know China With These 10 Expat Memoirs

Dive into literature by expats living in the Middle Kingdom


Know China With These 10 Expat Memoirs

Dive into literature by expats living in the Middle Kingdom


To understand or know more about the Middle Kingdom, where cultures, social circumstances, and collective and regional memories all significantly differ, literature is a great medium. These 10 novels on modern China, along with many other well-known works,  provide great widows into the society of contemporary China. In addition to the list, some others worth mentioning include; “River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze”, “Beijing Coma”, “A Time of Ghosts”,  “How to Cook a Dragon: Living, Loving, and Eating in China”, “Peking Story: The Last Days of Old China”, “Beijing for Beginners: An Irishman in the People’s Republic”, “Fortress Besieged”, “A Dictionary of Maqiao”, “Dream of the Walled City”, and “Border Town”.

We hope you enjoy reading your way through these modern literary delights.

Via China Whisper.

“1. Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel DeWoskin


Countless westerners have arrived in China over the centuries searching for all varieties of fortune and fame, but Rachel DeWoskin was the PRC’s very first foreign soap opera star!

2. American Shaolin by Matthew Polly


Nothing says China more than kung fu, and Matthew Polly holds the claim as Shaolin Temple’s first-ever American disciple.

3. Mr. China by Tim Clissold


Doing business with the Chinese is nothing new, but where Tim Clissold failed at his first venture he succeeds with the popular memoir about his bungled wheelings and dealings.

4) Monkey House Blues by Dominic Stevenson


Who knows how many laowai are locked up in China’s notorious prison system? Fortunately for drug dealer Dominic Stevenson, he got out – and wrote this poignant memoir about it.

5) Big in China by Alan Paul


Becoming a rock star in China…now that’s something to write home about! Alan Paul was a Mr. Mom in Beijing. But while the wife worked and the kids were at school, he picked up the guitar and played his way to stardom.

6) Pretty Woman Spitting by Leanna Adams


New to China, Leanna Adams recounts all her funny and disgusting encounters with the Chinese during her brief career as an English teacher.

7) Silent Tears by Kay Bratt


Kay Bratt, an American humanitarian working at a Chinese orphanage, shares her touching and heartbreaking first-hand observations of China’s flawed adoption process.

8) Eating Smoke by Chris Thrall


Set primarily in Hong Kong, Eating Smoke is a true story about a young Brit who gets hooked on crystal meth, winds up working for the Triad gangs, and goes mad.

9) Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones


A novelized account of the authors own lusty days partying, boozing and having sex with Chinese men in 1990s Beijing.

10) Unsavory Elements by various authors


Many of the authors on this list recently got together to share new stories from their time in China in an anthology called Unsavory Elements. It’s a fine companion piece, encompassing every imaginable expatriate scenario.”


Also check out Kaitlin Solimine’s “The China Expat in Exile“, a sophisticated and frank piece on being an expat in the Middle Kingdom.