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”
It’s always good to see more Su Tong in translation. Wives and Concubines (which I came to know thanks to a VHS of Raise the Red Lantern from the cupboard-sized local video rental shop I used to browse while waiting to pick up an Indian takeaway as a teenager) was a formative work for meContinue reading “Review #7: Shadow of the Hunter”
I’ve taken a short reading break recently – on top of the relentless day-after-day piling on of terrible news, I have a very small baby and returned to work, so reading for pleasure without instantly nodding off has been challenging. Whether it’s the lockdown or the lack of sleep, my brain has been drifting abroadContinue reading “Review #6: Three Tigers, One Mountain”
I wasn’t best disposed to Xiaolu Guo’s new novel A Lover’s Discourse from the outset. It opens with a quote from Roland Barthes, with whose work it shares a title. Oh God, Barthes – didn’t I read him for my Master’s? Am I really up for a book that opens with a Barthes quote? AmContinue reading “Review #5: A Lover’s Discourse”
I have a neat little collection of tenuous claims to fame. Two people I was at school with have had number one songs. Ian McKellen once flirted with me. There’s a piece of china in the V&A made by an ancestor of mine. But possible my most tenuous claim to fame is that Jin YongContinue reading “Review #4: A Snake Lies Waiting”
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