The list author says: "There are nearly 600,000 foreigners presently living and working in the Chinese mainland. They teach English, they study Putonghua, they facilitate global trade and investment, they report on current events, and some are even celebrities.
Expats have been keeping diaries and writing memoirs of their exciting experiences in China for time immemorial, though not until the 1980s, beginning with one Mark Salzman, followed by the omnipresent Peter Hessler, have their careers as published authors launched a few fortunate foreigners in China into superstar status.
Here is a list of memoirs written within the past 2 decades by 40 fabulous foreigners in China. Some are sorely dated, some are eternal, some are clichéd, some are groundbreaking; but, when read a as collective work, all offer a very revealing, and entertaining, observation of life in the oldest (and arguably mysterious) civilization in the world."
"Alan Paul, China's latest "it-pat," stormed the Beijing scene as an expat blogger for the Wall Street Journal, the frontman for an infectiously-enjoyable bar band, and father of three. His entertaining memoir explains how he became so Big in China."
""Perpetually Publicized Peter," as expat expert Peter Hessler is known in literary circles due to his high name recognition, has authored 3 acclaimed books on his experiences in China. River Town, about teaching English, is his most popular."
"Photojournalist Tom Carter has lived in China for nearly a decade - and spent a quarter of that time traveling over 56,000 kilometers across all 33 provinces in China. His book CHINA: Portrait of a People is a photographic record of his record-breaking odyssey."
"Deborah Fallows’ diary/dictionary Dreaming in Chinese is the latest "must-read" book for expat students learning Chinese. Combining language translation with her own personal cultural observations, Fallows teaches as much as she entertains."
"Mark Salzman was teaching English in China while the rest of us were still in Key Stage 2. His Bible-status memoir (and the movie based on it) is renowned for "opening the door" for future expats the world-over."
"Along with Salzman and Hessler, Theroux is another 80's-era "Old China Hand" whose books have become a staple in the literary diet of foreigners and backpackers across Asia. Severely dated, but considered essential expat reading."
"Simon Winchester is one of the UK's most prolific authors. His novels about China are best-sellers, but it is in his memoir about his own journeys meandering along the Yangtze River where we REALLY get to know Mr. Winchester - and China."
"Journalist Michael Meyer intertwines his diary about living in China with a historical retrospective of Beijing's fast-disappearing "hutong" - ancient neighborhoods that are being destroyed so the Communist government can build skyscrapers."
"Chris Thrall has been a bad bloke. Leaving our Royal Marines to "find his fortune" in Hong Kong, Thrall instead gets mixed up the red-light dealings of Wan Chai and soon finds himself working as a triad soldier for the Chinese mafia."
"Chris Taylor, who is responsible for (or should we say guilty of) writing all those Lonely Planet China guidebooks, returns to his own private Shangrila in Yunnan province to find it over-run with drug-dealing, hard-partying expats. Think: George Ernest Morrison meets "The Beach"."
"In Chasing China (China Cuckoo in the U.K.) Mark Kitto describes his experiences as a former publishing magnate in China who had his entire business appropriated by the Communist government. Rather than "fight the power," Kitto retired to the Moganshan mountains, where he now runs an inn."
"Hong Kong-based radio personality Cecilie Gamst Berg recalls her more adventurous days as a sexually-liberated European bird out to devirginize as many young Chinese men as possible during 1980's-era China."
"Drug-dealing Dominic Stevenson spent over two years in China's largest jail, Shanghai Municipal Prison. His memoir recounts his experiences as a naughty expat in various Asian countries leading up to his arrest on the Silk Road."
"Kay Bratt's brook Silent Tears has become something of a Bible for families embarking on China’s grueling adoption process. Bratt relocates to China with her family and takes a position at a local orphanage. Career becomes crusade as this brave woman seeks to improve living conditions for Chinese orphans."
"Colin Thubron has authored 30 books about his adventures as a world traveler. In Behind the Wall, Thubron shares the China-based portion of his journey, offering insight into 1980s-era Chinese society."
"Alec Le Sueur's memoir about working at a Holiday Inn in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, has been hailed as one of the funniest books about Tibet, which is refreshing considering the suppressive subject matter."
"Matthew Polly makes the journey to Shaolin Temple in Henan province to learn Kung Fu. But more than just jumping and kicking, his memoir is a study on the silly spectacle that all foreigners in China seem to make of themselves."
"20 years on the frontlines of doing business in China more than qualifies Jack Leblanc as a captain of Sino-industry. He uses his memoir Business Republic of China as a venue to outline in useful detail Chinese business practices, customs and etiquettes while reliving his own journey across commercial China."
"After years working in China as a correspondent for National Public Radio, Rob Gifford spends 6 weeks traveling westward across China, interviewing dozens of people along the way. Less a memoir than a travelogue, but Gifford’s journalistic expertise makes for good reading."
"Like his hero Peter Hessler, Michael Levy also came to China as a Peace Corps volunteer, then wrote a book about it too. Slightly different than River Town, however, as Levy's narrative of China as seen through the eyes of a Jewish-American will appeal to Kosher readers."
"Though published in 2006, British author Booth's memoir focuses on his upbringing in 1950's Hong Kong. Despite the fact that Hong Kong was once controlled by the English, the lack of memoirs by Englishmen living in HK is disconcerting."
"Edwin Maher is "that New Zealand guy" who we always see giving the news on CCTV, China's government-run television network. He also does reporting for China Daily, the Communist-controlled newspaper. Some see him as a sellout, but nobody can deny his celebrity."
"David Marriott aka "China Bounder" made headlines when he was arrested and deported from China for blogging about his sexual relations with a multitude of his female students. Now he's back with a more scholarly outlook on the present political situation in China."
"A refreshing look at laowai life from the eyes of an Indian (and female no less) expat. Pallavi Aiyar's work is important considering that both China and India are contending for world superpower status."
"Graham Earnshaw has lived in Shanghai for over two decades, during which he has worked as a reporter, publisher and muscician. On his days off, he likes to WALK across China, picking up where he has left off the previous time. His memoir describes his journeys by foot from Shanghai to Tibet."
"An ideal reading companion for any wife who has been forced to uproot and relocate to China because of her husband's career. Not as well-publicized as Susan Conley's book, but Sanet Mouton still provides a good read for women and wives in China."
"English teacher Desi Downey narrates her 6 zany years living in China, describing in cringing detail all the insecurities that newbies in China inevitably go through as they adjust to life in the world's oldest culture."
"Rudy Kong, a Canadian, goes to China in search of those two universal male quests - a life and a wife. His funny novel focuses primarily on amusing anecdotes and laowai silliness rather than any profound political diatribe like other China expat books tend to do."
"An up-to-date insider's guide for expats living and working (as opposed to traveling) in China, author Strother cleverly capitalizes on providing something that China is not very efficient in giving out - information."