Book Review: The Kitchens of Canton

About the book:Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00023]


Title: The Kitchens of Canton

Author: Isham Cook

Published: February 7th 2018 by Magic Theater Books

Source: received from AuthorsDB in exchange for an honest review (paid promotion)

Format: e-copy


Jeff Malmquist is unaccountably catapulted to the year 2060. He finds himself in New Gary, Indiana, a labor camp of one million Chicagoans, their identities hacked and incriminated as pedophiles through the collusion of a corrupt US Government, the Russian cybermafia, and China (which runs the USA behind the scenes). He escapes to Chicago, only to find himself in a full-scale replica of Ancient Rome in China, erected for the wealthy country’s amusement and manned by a million enslaved Italians. Or did China come first? As he struggles to orient himself in these synchronized urban labyrinths, he is plunged back to real Ancient Rome, before being flung yet further into the future: It’s 2115 and the Chinese Empire rules the world. The former Western hemisphere is now the American Special Administrative Region, a vast Cantonese-speaking slave colony. Malmquist will soon be shipped to the most opulent city the world has ever known for an unspeakable fate.

A dystopian satire both bleak and funny, The Kitchens of Canton distills the worst of our present and future societies into a strangely seductive maze of a story.

Check it on: Amazon  & Goodreads

My Review:


This is one of those difficult books that keep you thinking on the subject long after you’ve gone through all its pages. At least this is what happened to me. “The Kitchens of Canton” is not an easy book to follow, as it jumps from one scenery to another, from one action to the next and even from one language to another.

We have our main character Jeff Malmquist who is lost in time and space. Somehow he is sent to different future scenarios, in a world wither ruled by China or Ancient Rome. He is trying to understand how he got there, why and what is happening? And I think that’s the most important question this book is raising. What is happening with us as humans, what is happening with our society. I see it as a raised flag towards what we see around us, the amount of indecency flowing around and most importantly, the lack of coherence.

The different languages used in the book may be confusing to us, as well as to our main character. We get to experience with him the puzzlement and the disturbing feeling caused by all the events. The sexual content is on the highest level. The intimate act is lacking emotion now. It is simply something that must be performed for the happiness of our masters. Huh, ain’t that funny? (I apologize!)

Isham Cook’s story is not one to be taken lightly. Society needs to shift its course towards the true values. We need to be focused on the things and subjects that really matter. Or else we become vain, dump and mere slaves of our own misery.  I liked the approach, I liked how it was put into pages – 4 out of 5 stars.

About the AuthorIsham Cook


American novelist and essayist based in China since 1994. Writing philosophy: downmarket, big concept, provocative, discriminating, outrageous. Kirkus Reviews calls my second novel The Kitchens of Canton “poignant…language barriers abound, with dialogue in Cantonese, Italian, and Latin, but Cook isn’t merely interested in verbal language—body language, customs and rituals, and symbols are also on full display. The book also explores Americans’ complicated relationship with sex, juxtaposing it against their seemingly comfortable relationships with weapons and violence. An insightful, unconventional, and risqué view of present-day culture.”

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