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Harriet Sergeant rss

Japanese soldiers salute after filling a channel with coffins during a mass burial of tsunami victims Photo: AFP/Getty

Is there a way to live without economic growth? 

18 January 2014
Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival David Pilling

Allen Lane, pp.385, £20, ISBN: 9781846145469

During Japan’s lost decade in the 1990s I found myself handing out rice balls to Tokyo’s homeless on the banks of the Sumida river. The former salary men — it… Read more

Out on the town

28 July 2012
Riot City: Protest and Rebellion in the Capital Clive Bloom

Palgrave Macmillan, pp.162, 9.99, ISBN: 9781137029355

In the middle of last summer’s riots, Mash, a member of a South London gang I have befriended, phoned me. He was standing outside a shop that was being looted.… Read more

WEB EXCLUSIVE: These rioters are Tony Blair’s children

13 August 2011

Nihilism and disorder have been fostered by the state On the third day of the London riots I received a telephone call from Mash, a member of a Brixton gang… Read more

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Reverting to type

17 July 2010
Butterfly’s Shadow Lee Langley

Chatto & Windus, pp.340, 12.99

While I was living in Tokyo, a Japanese girl friend of mine fell in love with a British investment banker. After promising marriage, he abandoned her for an English wife… Read more

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The lady from Shanghai

24 February 2010
The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China Hannah Pakula

Weidenfeld, pp.787, 27.50

By the middle of the second world war, May-ling Soong was the world’s most powerful woman, at the centre of events in China’s history and its relationship with the USA.… Read more

Three men and a singer

19 November 2008
The China Lover Ian Buruma

Atlantic Books, pp.392, 15.99

Ian Buruma’s latest book, The China Lover, is a fictionalised take on themes previously examined in his impressive body of non-fictional work. His views on Japan, its history, films and… Read more

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No mean feat

31 October 2007
Shanghai Tango: A Memoir Jin Xing, with Catherine Texier

Atlantic Books, pp.195, 10.99

Rows of black suits filled the China Airlines flight from Beijing to Paris in September 1984. The People’s Liberation Army had ordered its entire delegation of dancers and musicians to… Read more

Much possessed by death

4 March 2006
Mishima’s Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend Christopher Ross

4th Estate,, pp.262, 14.99

On the 25 November, 1970 after a failed coup d’état, the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima stuck a knife into his belly, then had his head cut off with his own… Read more

With not much help from Freud

16 July 2005
Mr Muo’s Travelling Couch Dai Sijie

Chatto, pp.264, 12.99

Shortly after the end of the Cultural Revolution, I found myself in a girls’ dormitory of Beijing university. It was a small drab room of eight wooden bunks. The students… Read more