chairs lining a street; first newsletters
 Shanghai street scene. Photo credit: Karen Kao

My first blog post appeared on this website on 22.10.2016. It took me a while to figure it out, but soon thereafter I started sending out weekly newsletters to subscribers and fans on Facebook. My first newsletter went into the world on 24.11.2016 and I’ve been going strong ever since.

But some of you who visit my website may not know about these newsletters. And a handful of you might care to read them. So starting today, 26.01.2018, I’m putting all my newsletters online for you to peruse at your leisure.

To help you find your way, I’ve listed the topics discussed, the famous and the not so famous people quoted. I’ve added any place that moved me from the theater to music, dance to film.

I’ve highlighted one search term per newsletter. If you click on it, you’ll go to the newsletter itself and whatever goodies I might have linked to it. For sure, you’ll find my blog post for the week and maybe a book review, too.

Check it out. And if you decide that you cannot bear the idea of missing another one, you can sign up for my newsletters here.

Shelter in place

A series — hopefully brief — on life in lockdown:

Lockdown Larks | At the Zoo | Little Old Ladies 29.06.2020

Food! | Private Dining | Food book reviews 22.06.2020

The Bund 1930s | Emily Hahn | Reviews of literary journals 15.06.2020

Protests and pandemics: Insta-politics | Reviews of books by Black authors 08.06.2020

A belated welcome home: Serendipity | Nonfiction book reviews from around the world 01.06.2020

On families and distance: All for One | Short fiction book reviews 25.05.2020

Green Amsterdam: Chaos gardens and feeding the Heartland | Book reviews – Japan 18.05.2020

On navigating without a map: The Street Where You Live | Book reviews – Australia 11.05.2020

The art of travel is knowing when to sit still: Creature Comforts 04.05.2020

Lateral thinking: King’s Day | Listening Pleasures 27.04.2020

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop: Home Project | Whacko 20.04.2020

A sociological experiment: A Covid Conversation | How to Write Historical Fiction 13.04.2020

Shelter in place: Writing on the Road 06.04.2020

The Curious Monkey Goes To …

A quiet Amsterdam 30.03.2020

The end of the road in Australia 19.03.2020

Recycle on the South Island of New Zealand 15.02.2020

The isolation ward in New Zealand 28.01.2020

Hawaii 18.01.2020

Los Angeles 25.12.2019

Kyoto 10.12.2019

The countryside of Japan 18.11.2019

Eat Korea 4.11.2019

Korea 23.10.2019

Hanoi 13.10.2019

The Beach 03.10.2019

Angkor Wat 25.09.2019

Saigon 16.09.2019

Taiwan 12.09.2019


The Curious Monkey Goes To …

Hortus Botanicus Leiden | In the Chinese Garden | Master class Caoilinn Hughes | The Cleaver Quarterly

The Black Hands | Vortex Part 2

The Mapmaker | The Masters Review | In the vortex

July 2019

Caoilinn Hughes | Gardens | My Favorite Things | Submission strategies | Word-painting

Cha | Michelle Elvy | Master class Caoilinn Hughes | The Mapmaker | The Royal We

Democrats Abroad | The Common | The Devil’s Bargain

Banned Books | Ocean | Possessed | Talent on the Move

June 2019

Ghost City | Lights for Liberty | Millet

Bookish Asia | Expanded Field Journal | Master class Caoilinn Hughes | Novel Navigation

A Day of Writing and Publishing | Quiet Desperation | Talk to Me

#Tiananmen 30 | A Boot in the Face | Friendly Faces

MAY 2019

Dead Men Walking | Queen of Spring | Stone the Crows

Backlog | NUNUM Anthology 2019 | Torschlusspanik

Cultural Revolution 2.0 | Master Class Caoilinn Hughes | VERA

The Accidental Reviewer | Ingrid Mertens | Red Stick Festival

Have You Eaten Rice Today? | Science | Sweet Cheeks

April 2019

Amsterdam | Deaths in Venice | Writings on the Wall

Hecomi | Mass: Formulae | Me, Asian?!

Biters | Mouthfeel | You Know You Want This | VERSO

Bookish Asia | Fever & Famine | Han Kang | Kristen Roupenian

March 2019

Female Language | Han Kang |Mythical Saloon | Sheila Heti

Spring | The Smell of Memory | Vegetables of China

BreedReady | Fun in the Dark | VERSO / mass

Homeward Bound | Robert Macfarlane | VERSO | Witness

February 2019

Chinese Constitution | Prodigal Son | Uncle Xi Wants You!

Circus Animals | On Revision | Synchronicity


Chinese New Year | Lucky Strikes | Year of the Pig

Bearded Lady | ICAS 11 | Made in China

Feeding the Homies | How to Get Lost | Travel Fair | Winter Reading

Dragon Ball Z | Food Fight | Original Sin | Republican Fever

2018 | 2019 | Food | Flowers

December 2018

End in Sight – Favorite Foods – Lantern Festival

Christmas Prep – It’s All About Me – Wicked Witches

Cold – Head for the Hills – Lady Bankers

Fork & Knife – German Fairy Tales – Holidays – Ribbons

November 2018

the gift economy – Prize – The Slowdown

Maps of China – Ruben Terlou – sea serpents

Antwerp – Chain Reaction – US midterms – Zurich

100th blog post – Batting Average – Global Voices – Sentinel Tree

Blue Wave – Little by Little – Teaching

October 2018

Empty Pasture in Afternoon – Henny van der Meer – Richard Powers – The Cop and the Showgirl

Limbo – Numbers Game – The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Best of the Net – Frogs – Global Voices – Iron Horse – Treasure

September 2018

A Chinese Banquet – Chinese Cooking – Harvest

Amsterdam University College – International Writers’ Collective – Rules – Uighur

August 2018

Blue wave – Crazy Rich Asians – Lucky number 8

Chairman Mao – Cityscapes – Manu Joseph – Rewriting History

Annotated Alice – M50 – Shanghai Minds – social media – Tianzifang

Canoe – Mother Tongues – The Putz

July 2018

Blood moon – International Writers’ Collective – Violent Femmes

Bergen – Graffiti – Travel writing

Hope – Master Class – Reading with Your Ears – US Voter Assistance

Accommodation – Finding Nemo – Fourth of July

June 2018

Angel Island – Palm-of-the-Hand Stories – US Supreme Court

Bonsai – Master Class – More voter registration

Mindfulness – US voter registration – VERSO/

Gulag with Chinese Characteristics – Sacrificial Acts – Tank Man

May 2018

Modern Couples – Van Gogh in Japan – Who am I?

#bookstagram -Oedipus Rex – Truth or Consequences – Vacation

Body Parts – craft meetings – Skin in the Game

Family  Photos – Joodse Huizen – Women in China

April 2018

Green Dutch – Pollinators – Sweet Dream

Mirror, Mirror – Sloth – Spring Reading

Authors Electric – Global Voices – Ons moeder is dood – #RiceBunny – Spring Reading

Fact vs Fiction – My green thumb – More book reviews?

March 2018

Easter – Father Jacquinot – Jesuits in China

Dutch elections – FRIA Photo ’18 –  Global Voices – Low Countries – Mata Hari – Vivek Shanbhag

Francisco Cantú – Curve of the Land – Granta – Narrative Magazine

Authors Electric – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Janan Ganesh – Prisoner #24816 – Ward Road Jail

Bubble Life – Francisco Cantú – Jennifer Egan

February 2018

#VoteThemOut – Magazine Mashup – Orient Express

Afternoon of Readings – AM Homes – – POV – VERSO/ Uprising Seat at the Table

Coco – El Dia de los Muertos – The Impossible Voyage – Propaganda

January 2018

book clubs – book reviews – Migrant Writing

Bakery Institute – bread – Late Bloomers – poetry

Cory Booker – International Writers’ Collective – Model Minority – Shanghai Literary Review – Tracy K. Smith – Zadie Smith

Ai Weiwei – Geometry – Madeleine Thien – Madame Mao – Socialism Is Great! – Socialist Realism

2017 in Words and Pictures – bee hotels – Georgetown Law – Gustave Flaubert

December 2017

Kristen Roupenian – sushi – The Smell of Opium

Arts Council England – Francine Prose – Tim O’Brien – To Teach or Not to Teach – Will Self

Peace Court – snow – Speaking in Dialects

chiles Mexicanos – Facebook – House of Books – Mohsin Hamid

November 2017

Jiaozi – Laila’s Levain – short stories

Al Franken – John Lassiter – Say It Ain’t So, Joe

East LA – JRR Tolkien – Mind Map – Ramona Magazine – teaching

Bishop Robert C. Wright – Chinese Historical Society of Southern California – Day of the Dead

Devil’s Bargain – Laogai – plus ca change – San Diego Chinese Historical Museum – We Chinese

October 2017

By now, I’ve figured out how to post blogs wherever I am in the world. As a result, you’ll find no gaps in my October newsletters. All sent from sunny Southern California during my second book tour!

birthday cake – long life noodles – Phoenix Bakery – Shanghai Noir

#metoo – China Daily – Harvey Weinstein – Peace Court – Volkenkunde Museum

California book tour – Dipika Mukherjee – Ghost Month – Pages Bookstore Cafe Amsterdam

Afternoon of Readings – book blog tour – Genesis of a Quartet – Hugh Hefner

September 2017

Book Club Questions – newspapers – Pope Francis

A Book Blog Tour – Jeanette Winterson – London attacks – Narrative Magazine – William Carlos Williams

dance hall hostess
dance hall hostess Image source: Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center

Until 21.09.2017, my newsletters went out under the name Shanghai Lady. That was, of course, a reference to Song Anyi, the main character of The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, but also to myself. Going forward, you’ll see my newsletters come in under the name Shanghai Noir, the genre in which I write.

Mao Zedong – Martial Arts – Mohsin Hamid

Authors Electric – Forum van Rossum – Frank Dikotter – Fujianhua – Reverend William C. Barber – Sea Prayer

August 2017

#FreeRightsDefenders – Dudok Quartet – Hortus Ensemble – Nicole Krauss – The Art of War

Labels and Charlottesville – Kunstmuseum Kloster under lieben Frauen – Lucas Foglia

kokeshi dolls – McTyeire’s School for Girls – SieboldHuis

Britta Marakatt-Labba – documenta 14 – Richard Flanagan – Wanderlust

July 2017

Once in a while, I need a break from blogging. Recharge the creative juices with a little wandering. This summer, my holiday was in Germany: documenta 14 and the Skulptur Projekt, West and East and places in between.

Instagram – Lost in Translation – Not the Booker Prize – Summer reading list

Frankfurt Book Fair – Ginkaku-ji – Grandma – Natsume Soseki

Electric Literature – Fiftiness – foot fetish – Kitten Heels

June 2017

critique groups – Custom House – gardening – John Green

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag – Mine mine mine – Peace Court – Shanghai Quartet

Gong Ho – Hollywood Boulevard – Twitter etiquette

activist fatigue – Marianne Boruch – Glimmer Train – Lawyers for Good Government – The Five Stages of Trump

Fear of Failure

May 2017

Andres Barba – Holland Times – Qipao – vlog

Expatica – Fish – Jean Genet – Goodreads – Hendrik Ibsen – Simon Stone

California Dreaming – Historical Novel Society – LA Review of Books – On the Road – South China Morning Post

April 2017

This was a big month for me. First, the standing-room-only launch of my debut novel here in Amsterdam. Then, just a few days later, a whirlwind book tour through California: from Los Angeles to San Francisco, through Silicon Valley and ending in San Diego.

jetlag – playlist – SFMOMA – Show Don’t Tell

All That Jazz – Paul Beatty – jazz – In the Mood

March 2017

Leo van Gestel – Jackie Hatton – Korea – launch preparations – Singer Laren Museum

Amah – author events – countdown

ACLU – Dutch elections gone wrong – Politically Correct – For  Books’ Sake podcast – International Women’s Day – Kunisada – Rhiannon Jenkins-Tsang – Shame Is a Useless Emotion

family ghosts – Old House – Shanghai longtang

February 2017

book promotion – Bugs Bunny Show – The Sense of an Ending

A Death in the Family – book reviews – The Handmaiden – Park Chan-Wook – Sarah Waters

book promotion – War Without End

activism – galley proofs – The Language of Blood – Yiyun Li

January 2017

Beyond the Bestseller – book review section – – Pig Knuckle Soup – Women’s March

#writersresist – activism – The Good Immigrant

book cover – Labor Pains – Through the Looking Glass: An Asian-American Identity

A New Progressive Narrative – Book by Book – happy new year

December 2016

Christmas Chinese-American Style – Holiday wishes

A Reading List – Du Yuesheng – Suzhou

Slowly but surely, the coin drops. This week’s blog is about the family ghost who inspired The Dancing Girl and the Turtle and the Shikumen House Museum that helped me create that world.

Here’s my second newsletter. Still haven’t got the knack of providing content but at least I managed to link my post for the week: Origami for Authors.

November 2016

This was my very first newsletter. Before I knew what to say or how to attach my latest blog post Chicken Shit. At this point, all I could figure out to say was Welcome to Shanghai.