Chinese novelist Chan Koonchung writes first and foremost for his Beijing friends, never mind the fact they can’t buy his books in China. Best known for The Fat Years, which was banned on the mainland, the English translation of his most recent novel is out this month. Is that banned, too? Chan doesn’t know because no publisher in China would touch it.

The Unberaable Dreamworld of Champa the DriverThe Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa The Driver is a fast-paced read, packed with sex and danger. An exploration of the relationship between China and Tibet, it has the makings of a cult novel. The Chinese version was published in Taiwan and Hong Kong last year and the English translation – by Nicky Harman – is out now.

“In 2008 I could see China going through a new stage, it was the beginning of a new normal, but my Beijing friends didn’t believe me, so I wroteThe Fat Years to try to convince them. It’s always my Beijing friends that I write for,” says Chan.