Lyres, Kindles and Book Awards

I’m delighted to say that my novel, The Descent of the Lyre, has been shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award. It’s a very strong shortlist, and so it’s great to be on it. You can find out more about the award here.

Meanwhile, the book has just been issued in Kindle format, where it’s £5.99 in the UK and less than $10 in the USA. So if you are a Kindle user, and are given to fables about Spanish guitarists, the myth of Orpheus, Bulgarian saints, banditry and fierce alcohol, then [amazon_link id=”B00BXIJIMY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]get yourself a copy[/amazon_link]. The book is also available in [amazon_link id=”9380905076″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]handsome hardback[/amazon_link].

You can find out more about the book on my personal website, where you can listen to extracts, watch the book trailer (book trailers being the in thing), listen to extracts and read reviews. The link is here. But, for the mean-time, here are some review extracts to whet your appetite…

~ @ ~

“Blends history and myth… lyrical and well-written.” The Bookseller


“This is a book that is memorable for all the right reasons. The story is gripping and highly original, and it is beautifully written” Louis de Bernières.


“Seasoned with knowledge of philosophy and storytelling as well as a deft touch and lyrical beauty… it feels totally original.” The Book Bag

~ @ ~

The prize-winning book will be announced in June at the Oakham Literary Festival. Wish me luck!

Isaac’s Gift

Just a quick email to say that I’ve got a new article online over on Aeon Magazine’s excellent website. The article is about the Tanimbar islands in Indonesia, adat ritual law, gift exchange, and talking lizards.

You can find the link here. Whilst you are at it, it’s worth signing up for Aeon’s RSS feed: they publish a new (and excellent) article every weekday.

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh

Well, it’s now more or less spring; and with the surging green buds etc., I thought I’d give TheMyriadThings a new look. After a few days of burrowing away behind the scenes, I’m just about ready to put the site back online. There are still a few rough edges (if you find any, then let me know), but I’ve simplified things considerably. Now the posts here are divided into three categories. There are essays, which are anything from, say, six hundred words or up; then there are snippets, which are any other bits and pieces that take my fancy but that don’t really merit further development, or that I might one day develop if I have time to do so. Finally there are news posts, which are about what I’m up to, or about what’s going on with the site. This is a somewhat loose and baggy categorisation, but it should be useful to separate out the longer-form pieces from the snappier ones. Read more

A Few Small Changes

It’s been a bit quiet here of late, as I’ve been busy writing other things; but this is just an advance warning that I’m planning to give TheMyriadThings a bit of a rejig over the next few days. I’ve fallen by happenstance into writing rather long essays here, which is fine: but I don’t want to only write long essays, as the fear of having to write at length could (given that I seem to be somewhat busy at the moment) prevent me from writing at all… So over the next few days, I’m going to give the site a new look, and to re-tailor it so that I can post—as well as longer and more essayistic pieces—various snippets, speculations and other sideshows that take my fancy.

This will mean that the blog may disappear for a few days, with a holding page in place whilst I tinker behind the scenes; but don’t fear, it will be back in action very soon!

Philosophers and Dinner Dates

My goodness, two posts in two days… But don’t assume that this is going to be the way of things from here on in: I just thought I’d post to say that there’s a little interview with me over on the Bloomsbury philosophy blog, about Levinas, philosophy, which philosopher I’d like to have over for dinner, and my forthcoming book [amazon_link id=”1441124152″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Levinas, Storytelling and Anti-Storytelling[/amazon_link]. It’s a chatty, breezy kind of interview. There’s an extract below the fold: Read more


Just a quick update to apologise to anybody who has been having trouble commenting on this site. Although sleek and elegant, I was finding that the comments system that I was using was not working for any other users of the site. So I have reverted to a less sleek and less elegant solution, which (I hope) should work. Apologies for any trouble caused!

Snorghs, Sailors, Philosophy and Mood

With apologies for cross-posting from my personal website; but I’m very pleased to have received this morning two copies of the Spring Issue of Interdisciplinary Humanities journal, which includes my essay on “What the Snorgh Taught me about Emmanuel Levinas”. It’s a fairly personal essay/paper about the questions around children’s literature, creative writing, research and philosophy. The paper started out when I began to realise that the process of writing my children’s book, [amazon_link id=”1407116525″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Snorgh and the Sailor[/amazon_link] was (whatever Martin Amis might say about children’s literature) one that fed back into my philosophical writing, opening up new questions and lines of inquiry.

Read more

Welcome to the Myriad Things

Ten Thousand Riplets on the Yangtze — Ma Yuan

Well, here it is—after a hiatus of about a year or so, I’ve started blogging again in earnest.

And so welcome to The Myriad Things. As some visitors here may know, for a long time—five years in all—I ran a blog over at It was a huge amount of fun; but back in late 2011, I decided to retire thinkBuddha. I felt that I had come to the end of that particular road, I needed a break from blogging; and, besides, I had plenty of other things on at the time, with a number of writing projects that I was working on and that were taking up my attention.

So I had a break from running a blog for a year or so. But then, a couple of months ago, Steve Himmer invited me to be a guest blogger (it was a bit more fancy than that: Steve called it a ‘writer in residence’) over on his wonderful website, Necessary Fiction for the month of April 2012; and getting back into the swing of blogging was just so much fun that I thought perhaps it was time to return to the fray. I thought for a while about reviving thinkBuddha; but eventually decided that it might be better to set up an entirely new blog.

There were several reasons for my decision to start up something new. Firstly, I wanted somewhere that I could explore matters both philosophical and literary; and thinkBuddha was always a decidedly philosophical kind of a project. It simply wasn’t the kind of place that I felt I could just post a short story if I felt like doing so. Secondly, there was the question of Buddhism. thinkBuddha existed, in part, as a way of grappling with the various traditions of Buddhism. These days, I grapple rather less with Buddhism. Although it remains an abiding interest and influence, it is just not a thing for grappling in the way that it was. Over the past year, I’ve occasionally come up with some things that I thought I might like to blog about, but that didn’t really seem to fit with the kind of approach I had taken on thinkBuddha. The overtly Buddhist nature of the previous blog was becoming a bit confining. And my own website is more a kind of general newsy kind of site, and not so much the kind of place suited to extended reflection.

As a result of all of this, I’ve decided to set up a new blog. It may be a bit more freewheeling and eclectic than thinkBuddha was. I’ve chosen the name The Myriad Things  in part because it a name that almost invites this kind of eclecticism, and in part because my philosophical interests have become increasingly entangled with my study of Chinese thought, from whence the notion of ‘myriad things’ comes. thinkBuddha will remain online, although I’ll not be posting new articles over there (other than the occasional post in the news section), and after a while I’ll be closing down the comments, so I can focus on this blog.

I do not know what form or shape The Myriad Things will eventually have. I’m aiming to keep things very loose and broad at first, so that I feel free to post on whatever I like: literature, philosophy both Eastern (in particular, at the moment, Chinese) and Western, other on-going projects in the field of philosophy, writing, current affairs, science, ethics—and yes, from time to time, Buddhism as well. We’ll see how it goes.

A single post does not make a blog: and what a blog actually is generally only becomes apparent only once it has been running for a while. But I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of blogging; and I’m looking forward to renewing some old blog connections, as well as forging many new ones.

Image: 長江萬頃 Ten Thousand Ripples on the Yangtze by Ma Yuan. Source: Wikimedia Commons


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