Category Archives: books

Journal Jottings on a Coup d’état

  I have stacks of steno notebooks, a.k.a., my journals. Writing in them has been my way of paying attention to the world around me and saving my observations for the future. In recent years I haven’t been journaling much. … Continue reading

books, expatriate life, Philippines, Tiger Tail Soup, writing , , , , , , ,

An Assassination, Martial Law, and a Revolution, Part 2

  The phone call came at five in the morning. It was my husband’s secretary. “Turn on the radio,” she said. “Marcos just declared martial law.” That’s how it happens, without warning. For the next two hours, my husband sat … Continue reading

book reviews, books, expatriate life, family, Philippines , , , , , , ,

An Assassination, Martial Law, and a Revolution, Part 1

  In 1983, when Senator Benigno Aquino was assassinated, we were there—not at the Manila International Airport where thousands of supporters waited to welcome their hero back from exile in the United States, but at our home in Manila, watching … Continue reading

book reviews, books, expatriate life, historical fiction, Philippines , , , , , ,

What Writers Can Learn from a Carpenter’s Workshop.

Writers like to show pictures of their work spaces–their shiny or messy desks, comfy or straight chairs, desktop or laptop computers, bookshelves filled with books, plants, and personally meaningful knickknacks. According to Virginia Woolfe every writer’s room ought to have … Continue reading

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Meet John Kang, my Online Chinese-American Friend.

After publishing Tiger Tail Soup, my novel about WWII China, I’ve made quite a few online connections with writers with a focus on China. John Kang is one of them. Born in the US, John had to grow  into his … Continue reading

books, China, Culture, Xiamen , , , , ,

Privacy Is a Moving Target.

  From public phone books to hummingbird drones. For most of my life, my phone number and address could be found in the fat public phone book everyone received once a year. When I was a kid, we even had … Continue reading

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Elena Ferrante Isn’t Who I Thought She Was.

  And I’m glad she’s not. Elena Ferrante is the pseudonym for Italy’s most famous author. For twenty years her true identity has remained a carefully guarded secret. Then, on October 2nd, the New York Review of Books published an … Continue reading

book reviews, books, historical fiction, writing , , , , , , , , , ,

Translation: Is That What I Wrote?

My novel looks so different in translation. I look at all those Chinese characters and I wonder, is this really my novel? If only I could read Chinese! I did study it for a while. But that was years ago, … Continue reading

books, China, historical fiction, Second Sino-Japanese War casualties, Tiger Tail Soup, WWII in China , , , , , ,

The Empress of China

We tell our sons they can grow up to be president. But do we assure our daughters that they, too, have a chance to be the leader their country? It’s a hard case to make in the United States since … Continue reading

book reviews, books, China, historical fiction , , , , , , ,

My Translators Live in China.

 They show up on my computer screen every day or two with a question or a series of questions, and I answer them. But I’ve never met my translators. I picture them as three young Chinese men, but I could … Continue reading

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