In all the turmoil of 2020 (and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come) I keep remembering a poll by YouGov back in June during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests. It showed that here in the UK 63% of non-white people have had a racial slur said to them directly. But it’sContinue reading “Review #13: Interior Chinatown”
It’s Nobel Prize week! It always sneaks up on me. I love Nobel Prize week. After three days of unspeakably brilliant scientists whose achievements I can barely comprehend, it’s time for literature. Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o are once again the hot tips – I can’t think of a year when theyContinue reading “Notes on: Nobel Prizes”
After White Ivy, I’ve unexpectedly stumbled upon a perfect double bill. If I’d had a bit more foresight I could have hold on and made this a dual review. This week I’ve been reading Meng Jin’s Little Gods; another debut novel by a Chinese-American writer, with a young female Chinese-American protagonist exploring and understanding herContinue reading “Review #12: Little Gods”
White Ivy is a debut novel by Susie Yang, who was born in China, lives in the UK and has, after a PhD and launching a tech start-up in the US, turned her hand to writing. Multi-talented doesn’t appear to cover it. At first glance White Ivy feels like a fairly typical novel of theContinue reading “Review #11: White Ivy”
How do you pronounce ‘Procuratorate’? I don’t think it’s a word that’s troubled my vocabulary before, but it’s central to In The Name Of The People. I settled on a nice bouncy PRO-cu-RAY-to-RAT, but I’m still none the wiser. In The Name Of The People is best known as a 2017 TV series that wasContinue reading “Review #10: In The Name Of The People”
It’s funny how easy it is to get out of the reading habit. A busy few weeks at work and a busy few weeks at home and I’ve somehow lost the ability to pick up a book during the day, and if I try to read before sleep I can barely make a few pagesContinue reading “Watching China #1: So Long, My Son”
This Sunday, the latest BBC literary adaptation, Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, starts in the UK. I can’t wait. Even the slight disappointment of the recent The Luminaries – another favourite doorstop book of mine – doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm. A Suitable Boy is such a beautiful, complete world of a book. So why isContinue reading “Notes on: A Suitable Baoyu”
Xinran’s latest is a labour of love. She has worked on it since spring 2013, since when several of its subjects have died, as well as her husband, legendary literary agent Toby Eady, who is memorialised in the foreword and afterword (and occasionally in the narrative). Xinran’s heart is on every page, as is herContinue reading “Review #9: The Promise”
My last piece about The Bird in the Bamboo Cage had me thinking about English language historical fiction set in China. Is it as rare as I think? It clearly has a long history in Chinese language fiction: after all, three of the four great Chinese classics are set in a period before they wereContinue reading “Notes on: historical fiction”
Historical fiction, of all periods and persuasions, has become my go-to genre fiction comfort reading. So, given my love of Chinese literature, there is a sweet spot in the Venn diagram of historical fiction set in China, which is a surprisingly rare occurrence. Most historical fiction, in the UK at least, falls into a handfulContinue reading “Review #8: The Bird in the Bamboo Cage”
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