A Transition

On Monday August 4, I leave China, ending five years of extraordinarily rich residence in Shanghai.
As I depart China, I am also leaving The New York Times, ending a fulfilling 22 year career at the newspaper, and joining the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
For more biographical information, please refer to the “About” item on this page.
So what does this change mean for me? It means that I have to reinvent myself as a teacher. It’s actually a return to something I did very early in my working life, when I taught English literature in the 1980s at the University of Abidjan, in Ivory Coast.
It also means a return to my roots, sunk back in that same era, as a freelance writer. My plan is to stay very busy as a writer, and during the fallow portions of the academic calendar, the idea is to continue traveling and exploring the world. My first effort in this direction is a review of The Corpse Walker, by the Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, in The Nation, which can be found on this site.
In the near term, this will undoubtedly mean continuing to pay a lot of attention to China. I’ve invested a lot of effort in coming to grips with this country, including becoming fluent in the language and photographing the withering old neighborhoods of Shanghai in an in-depth and arguably unique way.
With its velocity of change, and a population that amounts to 1/5th of humanity, the China story will only get better, and I plan to be involved in it, both as a writer and a photographer. Stay tuned.
Other specific plans include more work in Africa. A trip back to the continent last year after several years away merely whet my appetite for much more work there.
I’m also thinking about India, about the Caribbean, where I worked in the early 1990s, about southeast Asia, and about that newest of all subjects of exploration for me, the United States.
My hopes also include a rapid conclusion to my first attempt at fiction, a big push to get Disappearing Shanghai into print in book form, and some embryonic non-fiction projects.
For people who are interested in my work, you will find regular updates on all of this right here.
Finally, before long, visitors will also discover a long overdue redesign of this website.

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