Ma Jian

Is this just a Chinese stream of consciousness or is it more?

In 1983, aspiring artist Ma Jian works as a photographer for the propaganda department in Beijing. His life is becoming difficult, and he decides to leave it all behind and go on a trip through the country…


Richard Halliburton

This author has been called the “grandfather of travel writing” – but is he really that good?

In the early 1920s, young American graduate Richard Halliburton feels bored. He decides to go traveling on a shoestring budget, so he hops on a ship to Europe and takes it from there…


Nadine Hudson

Why does too much often mean too little?

In the early 1990s, Nadine Hudson from Switzerland is struggling with mental health issues, most notably an eating disorder. She decides to embark on a backpacking trip through Asia…

Alec Ash "Wish Lanterns"

Alec Ash

What went wrong when a book can’t exist by itself?

In the late 2000s, young British journalist Alec Ash arrives in Beijing. He makes friends with several young people (all of whom were born around the end of the 1980s) and decides to write about their life stories…

Ding Haixiao - "Ten Years Of Hitchhiking"

Ding Haixiao

What happens to a travel story when you get caught up in old books and theories?

in 2003, twenty-something Chinese travel writer Ding Haixiao embarks on a trip to the Chinese Northwest. He hitches rides most of the way, sometimes alone and sometimes together with different travel companions whom he either already knows or gets to know on the road…

Huang Nubo - "Herr Huang in Deutschland"

Huang Nubo

Can this be a new way to write travel literature, or will it always turn out terrible?

in the early 2010s, Huang Nubo, a Chinese billionaire who climbs mountains and writes poetry, gives to charity, and supposedly tries to protect cultural relics in China, decides to embark on a mission that is supposed to last him ten years: a visit to each and every World Heritage Site on the face of the earth…

Stephen Spender's "China Diary"

Stephen Spender

Is this a coffeetable book or a regular travelogue, and is it worth a read?

at the beginning of the 1980s, ageing English writer Stephen Spender decides to visit China. He takes two friends along, one of whom is a painter (co-author David Hockney). They start their tour from Hongkong, and they get to see Beijing, Xi’an, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Shanghai, Guilin and Guangzhou, then they return via Hongkong…

Evan Osnos' "Age Of Ambition"

Evan Osnos

Is there a better book to get to know modern China?

it’s 2005, and American journalist Evan Osnos arrives in Beijing. He is well educated, knows a bit of Chinese, and he takes his job seriously…

Rob Lilwall's "Walking Home From Mongolia"

Rob Lilwall

What’s wrong with adventure travel writing if we get bored by it?

in 2011, British adventurer Rob Lilwall has just finished a bike ride from Siberia to the UK. This time, he decides to take a buddy along (Irish adventurer Leon McCarron) and walk from Mongolia to Hongkong, which is his new home…

Mitch Moxley's "Apologies To My Censor"

Mitch Moxley

Does the expat experience really keep people from ever growing old?

in the mid-2000s, young Canadian Mitch Moxley decides to go to China. This seems be a rather spontaneous decision. He arrives in Beijing, takes a job at an English-language newspaper…

Erwin Wickert's "China Seen From Within"

Erwin Wickert

What’s wrong with the diplomatic approach to writing about a foreign culture?

in the mid-70s, German diplomat Erwin Wickert gets transferred from Romania to China. He has been there before (as a tourist in the 1930s), and he seems excited about it…

Hans Ulrich Kempski's "Red Sun Over Yellow Earth"

Hans Ulrich Kempski

Are these just some minor slip-ups or are we looking at an expert exposing himself?

we’re in the mid-1950s, and the world has just entered the Cold War. Hans Ulrich Kempski is one of the best known journalists in West Germany. He visits Japan and China, both of which are on the periphery of the two main political blocks. He talks to politicians there, wanders about, and comes up with a bunch of articles describing and analysing the things he has seen. This book is a collection of those articles…

Heinrich Schliemann's "China And Japan In The Present Age"

Heinrich Schliemann

Is this guy more than just a worthy rival to Albert von Le Coq?

We’re in the mid-19th century. Heinrich Schliemann is a German businessman with a gift for languages and a passion for history who will later go on to discover the ruins of Troy. But first, he decides to go on a journey to China and Japan, both of which are currently struggling with the challenges of modernity and western imperialism. This book is about his journey…

Xiao Peng's "Ten Years Of Backpacking"


If this guy writes so well and goes to so many cool places, then just why is this book he wrote so bad?

in the early 2000s, Xiaopeng is a young Chinese white-collar worker who decides to see the world. He travels around China, then ends up as an exchange student in the Netherlands. From there, he sets out to do the Grand Tour of Europe…

Stuart Stevens' "Night Train to Turkistan"

Stuart Stevens

Does this book do anything right except exposing Mark Salzman’s attitude towards China?

in the mid-1980s, aspiring American travel writer Stuart Stevens, who is a huge fan of Peter Fleming, sets out to retrace Fleming’s and Ella Maillart’s route from Beijing to the Northwest of China. And he doesn’t go alone…