Maugham spent the winter months of 1919 travelling 1500 miles up the Yangtze river. Always more interested in people than places, he noted down acute and finely crafted sketches of those he met on countless scraps of paper. In the resulting collection we encounter Western missionaries, army officers, and company managers who are culturally out of their depth in the immensity of the Chinese civilisation. Maugham keenly observes, and gently ridicules, their dogged and oblivious persistence with the life they know.
“Evokes the nostalgic China of "old China hands," replete with rickshaws, coolies and singsing girls” (Los Angeles Times)
“Masterly, carefully wrought prose sketches... The magical, mysterious East is richly portrayed” (Newsday)
“A fascinating volume - vivid, thoughtful, full of colour” (New York Times)
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Not Maugham's forte