MatadorLife editor Tom Gates finds out what’s behind J. Maarten Troost’s latest book, including prescient economic forecasting, the family life of a traveling writer, and the Chinese art of expectorating phlegm.
Maarten Troost is the author of three books, all of them poignant and hilarious. Fans of his work know him as wry, witty and a little touched.
Troost’s latest, Lost on Planet China or How I Learned to Love Live Squid,
is a fantastic primer of a country that seems to ride a fine line between brilliance and absolute madness.
Your two previous books (The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
and Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu) have been written about periods of time when you’ve lived elsewhere. Lost on Planet China is about one trip, yet seems to pack more action per page. Is this just because China is so goddamned big and crowded?
Or it could be because more so than the first two books, which were about living in faraway places and kind of reflective and essay-ish, the China book follows the well-established conventions of the travel genre, where the movement of the author is the little engine that propels the book onward.