Stealing with the Eyes – out in May 2018

I’m very pleased to see the cover of Stealing with the Eyes, my memoir of anthropology and Indonesia, due out from Haus Publishing in 2018.

The cover image is a photograph I took of Saumlaki harbour in Tanimbar back in 1994. I dug it out of a shoebox and scanned the transparency.

Stealing with the Eyes
Stealing with the Eyes

I’ll say more about the book closer to the publication date. I’ve set up a page for it on this website, although it is currently a bit skeletal. The book is also available for pre-order, including from Amazon.

Now Represented by C+W

I’m very pleased to have found myself a new agent at C+W, where I will be represented by the excellent Emma Fine. I’m very much looking forward to getting started on work with Emma on two non-fiction projects that have been in the works for a long time: one big, single-themed project that ranges across anthropology, philosophy, literature, history and other such things, and also a memoir with Chinese characteristics or 中国特色 (as they say in the PRC). Or at least with Chinese philosophical characteristics. I’ll post more news about both of these projects once they are up and running.

The link to my bio page on C+W’s website is here.

The Snorgh in Chinese and Turkish

Last night, I stumbled across the Chinese edition of The Snorgh and the Sailor, and I was delighted to see what they’d done with the book. The title in Chinese is 长鼻子冒险家和长耳朵冒险家, or “Long Nose the Adventurer, and Long Ears the Adventurer”. I was wondering what the Chinese translators would do with “Snorgh”, and I think that “Long Nose” is an admirable solution. The cover text is nice as well, with the long nose and ears integrated into the Chinese character for “long” (click the image above to get the full-sized cover). Very clever! And to my surprise, the format is taller than it is wide, so I’ll be interested to get my hands on a copy to see how they have worked on the page layout.

As I am no longer in China, I like to imagine that Long Nose and Long Ears can act as ambassadors on my behalf. I’ll be following their activities closely. There’s a nice review of the Chinese edition here.

Meanwhile, over in Turkey, my wonderful publishers over there, Büyülü Fener, have let me know that their Turkish Snorghs have arrived in the office, and apparently the book is looking good. The Turkish title is Şnörk ve Denizci.

Chance Pieces on Creative Transformations Asia Blog

A few weeks back Michael Keane, who is a Professor of Chinese Media at Curtin University and who runs the Digital China Lab, wrote a very generous review of my Sixty-Four Chance Pieces over on the Creative Transformations Asia blog. Here’s an extract.

There is so much in the book to savour if you like a taste of magic realism mixed with observations about change and the passing of time. History, scholarship and finely honed literary skills combine to produce a minor masterpiece. A book about philosophy, adventure, discovery, about life and death, yin and yang, it’s also about creative transformations.

 

You can read the whole review here.

Divination in Nottingham Event

This coming week, on Tuesday 14th July, I’m doing an event at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, reading from and talking about my I Ching-based novel-of-sorts, [amazon text=Sixty-Four Chance Pieces: A Book of Changes&asin=http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sixty-Four-Chance-Pieces-Book-Changes/dp/9888273027], then leading a workshop on writing and divination, putting the I Ching to work as a tool for writing. It should be fun and relaxed, and all are welcome. The time is 7pm, and the suggested donation is £1 for members and £3 for non-members. I’ll also have advance copies of the book on sale (not yet out in the UK), at a reduced price. Do come along if you are in town. Find out more at the event’s Facebook page. Or, if you are not a Facebooker, email me for more information.

Five Chance Questions About the I Ching

Now that my I Ching-based book, Sixty-Four Chance Pieces is out (see the page here for how to get hold of a copy), I thought I’d post this quick interview that I did recently about the book. So here are five chance questions about my sixty-four chance pieces about the I Ching.

Why did you write Sixty-Four Chance Pieces?

It started out as a whim. I wanted to write sixty-four intriguing stories, using the I Ching simply as a means to this end. But then the I Ching got the better of me. If you mess with a book that has survived for three thousand years, it is going to get the better of you. So I found myself getting sucked in. The project was supposed to take a couple of years. But in the end—what with learning Chinese, doing the research and all that—it took almost a decade.

What has an old Chinese book got to do with global 21st century people?

Old books are not to be underestimated. The I Ching has had a huge influence on China and, increasingly, on the rest of the world. Whilst writing this book, I was surprised by how many people confessed to me that they used the I Ching in their daily life. One student I met in Suzhou asked me whether it could be trusted when it came to fashion advice. I’m still not sure about this. I am not the person to ask about fashion advice.

Do you believe in fate? Do you think the I Ching reflects some higher power?

I don’t believe in fate. The world seems to me to be too messy and chaotic for things to be preordained. So one of the reasons that I like the I Ching is that it encourages me to think about change, uncertainty and mess. One of the biggest problems, perhaps, is that we suffer from too much certainty. The I Ching sows confusion in a very useful fashion. As for other powers, whilst I don’t think that the I Ching reflects a higher power, I think that it is a curiously cunning book. You have to be cunning (or else very stubborn) to survive that long.

How do the stories link to the I Ching?

Sometimes the links are very direct, sometimes they are more oblique and obscure. I wanted all the stories to be linked organically to the hexagrams of the I Ching, rather than being imposed upon them. Some stories came quickly, some I had to wait for a year, two years, or five years before they started to work.

What do I get as a reader from reading this?

Because I’m interested in uncertainty, I hope that readers will get things out of the book that I hadn’t even anticipated. When I was writing the book, I wanted it to be entertaining and intriguing. I take the I Ching seriously, but I don’t think seriousness is opposed to lightness and playfulness. So I didn’t want to write a heavy book. One of my early readers said to me that they were afraid that the book would be like Ulysses, but when she read it, she found herself laughing out loud. This was encouraging.

Four Great Mysteries

Before coming to China, a lot of friends said, “I look forward to reading your blog posts.” But as it has been so very busy here — fourteen events in as many days — I have simply not had time to write very much. Anyway, I’m now in Suzhou for part three of my mini book tour, and it’s a lovely city to spend time in. The air quality feels better here, and you can actually see the sky.

Tonight I’m doing a talk at the Bookworm. The talk is going to be called “Four Great Mysteries.” The mysteries are these:

  1. What is the I Ching?
  2. What does the I Ching mean? What is it for?
  3. How does a foolish and ignorant laowai end up getting mixed up in all this stuff?
  4. What kind of a freakish book is this Sixty-Four Chance Pieces anyway? Fiction? Non-fiction? Philosophy? Travel-writing? An unholy mess? None of the above? All of the above?

I’m going to be making notes on all of these deep mysteries on the train to Shanghai this morning. In Shanghai I’m having a swift lunch with my publisher before I head back here (sorry, Shanghai friends — I’ll have to catch up wtih you another time…) for tonight’s event. Come along if you are in Suzhou.

Sixty-Four Chance Pieces: Machines, Mathematics, Organs and Pandas

I’ve just about finished the proofs for Sixty-Four Chance Pieces, my I Ching-based novel-of-sorts, ready to send off to Earnshaw Books. All being well, I’ll be launching the book in a few weeks at the Beijing Bookworm book festival. But just to whet the appetite, here’s an extract from the book’s index. All novels, I feel, should be equipped with an index…

I’ll post again when the book is finally published.

yijing_index

Complete Write a Novel Launch Event — photos

Last night I launched my book, [amazon text=Teach Yourself: Complete Write a Novel&asin=1473600480] at De Montfort University, so here are a few images of the launch event. Niki Valentine (Nicola Monaghan) was asking the questions, and it was great to talk about novel-writing in front of an audience of friends, strangers, and some absolutely fabulous writers.

Images © Ambrose Musiyiwa — with thanks!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: