Australia scraps its carbon tax because the weather isn’t getting hotter there or something

July 18, 2014 § Leave a comment


More here. By me.

What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘the Uyghurs’

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Back street in Urumqi, September 2013

Back street in Urumqi, September 2013

Firstly, apologies to Raymond Carver for being yet another desecrator of his great title.

Secondly- this is the title of my latest piece on Xinjiang, which is in the Summer issue of Dissent mag.

The Death of Old Kashgar

January 17, 2014 § 2 Comments


I went back to Kashgar, in southern Xinjiang, in September last year for the first time in 13 years. In 2000 it was a place that I was sorry to leave; I didn’t feel the same this time. More words and pictures about that can be found at Unmapped, a new travel magazine that’s publishing the kinds of pieces that are in short supply: well-written, insightful reports from places that the news agenda doesn’t seem concerned about.

To tweet or not to tweet?

November 7, 2013 § Leave a comment


My piece on being a politically engaged writer (or not) is now up at

In Balykchy

October 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

My first dispatch from Kyrgyzstan is now up on the London Review of Books Blog

Here are some other photos of the town:






Afghan War memorial







The many trials of Mr Horse

September 23, 2013 § Leave a comment


My new essay on knowing a Chinese James Bond is in the new issue of The Dublin Review

This is how it starts:

Everyone in Shaoyang Teachers’ College said Mr Ma had been a spy. If this was supposed to be a secret, it was badly kept. When I first met him, in 1999, Mr Ma was in his mid thirties. He wore black glasses with thick lenses; his hair was in retreat; there was frequently a look of astonishment on his face. He was bashful, polite, prone to excessive laughter. But the fact that he didn’t look or act like a spy only made the rumours more plausible. It meant that he had been a good spy.

Bo Xilai and ‘seeking truth from facts’

September 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

The nicest looking picture of Bo Xilai I could find

The nicest looking picture of Bo Xilai I could find

My take on the Bo Xilai trial, the biggest political trial in China for decades, now up at the LRB blog

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