Other Writing

Linda Jaivin is a writer of some discipline but minimal bondage. In other words, she wants it both ways – serious and funny. And who could blame her? She can do it both ways.

Canberra Times

Articles and essays

China’s reunification goal the loser in Taiwan’s elections

Taiwan has again voted to re-elect the Democratic Progressive Party, further inflaming cross-strait tensions with Beijing.

China’s underground historians

A veteran China watcher uncovers a network of counter-historians.

Stolen moments

Caught between their home villages and the city, a generation of Chinese migrant workers struggles for intimacy.

Slapped by reality

A fascinating examination of the Chinese economy leaves one big question unanswered.

The silence that makes sense of modern China

Two new books excavate everyday experiences of the Cultural Revolution.

Prison and the Poet – Linda Jaivin on Ravi Shankar (review)

Correctional is a migrant family story, prison memoir, record of a spiritual journey, love story, and morality tale. It is also an examination of race and policing in America and a critique of class on two continents. It is the record of an imperfect life closely and critically examined… 

Little Pinks and their achy breaky hearts

China’s army of easily offended young internet-watchers is attracting its own critics.

How understanding Chinese history can help your business in China

Britain’s trade with China during the Qing Dynasty and the UK’s current obsession with Huawei may have more in common than you think. Sinologist Linda Jaivin’s ‘The Shortest History of China’ attempts to condense the country’s ‘unruly complexity’ into a genuinely useful book…

Last call for China’s drinking culture?

China is waking up to the downside of its world-beating level of alcohol consumption.

Shooting down the “girlie guns”

Beijing’s crackdown on niangpao reflects anxieties dating back to Europe’s nineteenth-century incursions.

Shanghai, July 1921

When communist delegates met secretly in Shanghai in July 1921, their individual fates — as well as their party’s — were impossible to foresee.

Inside the Wuhan lab leak conspiracy theory

While a laboratory leak may never be ruled out as the origin of Covid-19, the sources of that theory remain highly questionable.

Yang Hengjun and China’s rule of law

As Australian writer Yang Hengjun awaits a verdict after being tried in China on charges of espionage, a conviction seems likely. Harder to predict is the sentence he will be given.

Caught Mapping

As I write this, Sydney, the city where I’ve set my life and much of my fiction over the past 27 years, is ringed by fire and choked by smoke. A combination fan and air purifier hums in the corner of my study. Seretide and Ventolin inhalers sit within reach on my desk…

Author Linda Jaivin on travelling with books

It is the 1980s in LA. Party time. Everyone is young, rich and beautiful and has too many drugs and too much time on their hands. Things quickly go bad, turn nihilistic: other people’s suffering becomes just another night’s entertainment. My nose fills with the smell of leeks…

Tower of Strength: Ponte City, Johannesburg

The Ponte City apartment tower in Johannesburg was built for high-flyers before becoming a violent slum ruled by gangsters. Its rebirth as respectable, affordable housing is a model of community renewal.

Borneo’s Gomantong Caves

Within Borneo’s Gomantong Caves – slippery with teeming insects, bird droppings and guano from two million bats – fine dining is likely far from the mind. But overhead a perilous harvest ensues for the key ingredient of Chinese bird’s nest soup.

The New Era: Ready or not, China is here

When I lecture at mainland Chinese universities in film and television subtitling, discussions tend to be lively, with students asking about everything from problems of cultural specificity to the challenges of rhyming text…

The Museum of Ice Cream

Los Angeles’ pop-up Museum of Ice Cream has visitors shuffling from one branded photo op to another, stretching the idea of a museum until it has no meaning.

The Island (catalogue essay)

When tectonic plates collide, they create heat and pressure. The violence of earthquakes and volcanoes shakes and shocks us. If we are close, we run. If we are far, we either look, or look away. Beneath the surface, meanwhile, the heat and pressure acts on limestone to create the metamorphic stone we call marble…  

What happened to privacy?

Privacy, like its opposite, Kim Kardashian, is often in the news these days, and not usually for the best reasons…

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo’s streets bear the scars of the Bosnian War siege, but people are pursuing a relaxed approach to life.

A day in North Korea

Big statues, high swings and a ‘Sound of Music’ sing-along.

Dining out with Michelle Garnaut

Her kitchen rules.

The Baiwan Zhuang Speakeasy

When Geremie Barmé first took me to visit Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang at their home in the Foreign Languages Press in Baiwan Zhuang 百万庄 in 1981, it felt like I’d been given the keys to an enchanted land.

Wistaria Teahouse 紫藤盧

In Taipei in the late 1970s, when people wanted to meet and talk about books, politics and philosophy, they tended to go to coffee shops.