Linda Jaivin


31 ENTRIES Linda Jaivin is an author and translator of Chinese. Her books include Eat Me, The Infernal Optimist and A Most Immoral Woman. Her most recent works are the novel The Empress Lover and the Quarterly Essay ‘Found in Translation’.


Illustration by Jeff Fisher.


Fairweather mates

Forty years of Australian–Chinese diplomacy

'Echo and Narcissus' (detail), 1903, John William Waterhouse


Echo Chamber

Confessions of a graphomaniac

'The Hall of Uselessness', By Simon Leys, Black Inc, 512pp; $49.95


‘The Hall of Uselessness’ by Simon Leys

The Hall of Uselessness, a compendium of Simon Leys’s cultural and political commentary, is an elegant mansion of many rooms, connected by ingenious pathways, carpeted with wit and perfumed with what the Chinese call shuxiang – the …

A Siberian tiger feeds on a live chicken in the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, 2011. © How Hwee Young/EPA/Corbis


Holiday on ice

Harbin, China

Protestors march in Hong Kong in support of Liu Xiaobo, January 2010. © Tyrone Siu / Reuters


A nobel affair

Liu Xiaobo

'How to Make Gravy' by Paul Kelly, Penguin, 576pp; $49.95


‘How to Make Gravy’ by Paul Kelly

From little things, big things grow: asked to perform four nights in a row at The Famous Spiegeltent in Melbourne in 2004, singer–songwriter Paul Kelly came up with a novel idea. Over the four nights, he would play 100 of his songs in alphabetical order …

'Ilustrado' by Miguel Syjuco, Random House, 306pp; $32.95


‘Ilustrado’ by Miguel Syjuco

The body of Crispin Salvador, a somewhat passé Filipino writer living in America, is discovered floating down the Hudson River. His student and biographer, Miguel, searches among Salvador’s effects for the manuscript of a muckraking novel that had …


‘The Family Law’ by Benjamin Law

Tolstoy was wrong: not all happy families are alike. As portrayed in this very funny collection of personal essays by Benjamin Law, the family Law has found a truly original and unusual brand of happiness. It’s one that – more or less cheerfully – …


‘Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism’ by Natasha Walter

Swaddled in princess pink, tottering towards adolescence on their training heels, many young girls today are growing up in the plastic, not so fantastic monoculture of what Natasha Walter calls “living dolls”. This is a world in which, for women, …


‘The Pregnant Widow’ by Martin Amis

“It sometimes seemed to Keith that the English novel … asked only one question. Will she fall? Will she fall, this woman?” But in Martin Amis’ new novel, The Pregnant Widow, it is the man, Keith, who falls, time and again – …

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.


Haiku hikers

We've come to the Telegraph Station, four kilometres north of Alice Springs, for a welcome to country by Marie, an Arrernte elder and traditional owner. Marie informs us that she writes and teaches, leads a dance troupe and artists' group among other …


Levelling with China

“Is there a bin?” I asked, holding my empty plastic lunchbox. “Just throw it anywhere,” suggested Xiao Zhang amiably. It was my first visit to Beijing, some 28 years ago. Chairman Mao had died in 1976; two years later, the new Communist leadership …


Embracing the inner bunny

Recent books about raunch culture

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.


Detainee DON 94

“I am so frustrated,” says Morteza Poorvadi. Life is pretty good these days for the hardworking 24-year-old Iranian with the idiomatic English and irrepressible sense of humour. He runs a small business doing home decoration while …

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.


Writer gets leg up

A slip, for once not of the tongue or pen but the foot. Then it was Christmas night in the emergency unit and Boxing Day in the operating theatre. Finally, a bed in a ward, a drip in the arm and a big hunk of plaster where 24 hours before had been a …