Writing China, at the Nottingham Festival of Words

I’m delighted to be participating in the international launch event at the 2014 Nottingham Festival of Words, along with two fellow-novelists, the Nottingham-based Rhiannon Tsang (The Woman who Lost China, Open Books 2013), and the Beijing-based Karen Ma (Excess Baggage, China Books 2013). Between the three of us, we’ll be talking about ‘Writing China’.

Along the way, we’ll be talking about literature in English and Chinese, about how stories travel between China and the West, and about understandings and misunderstandings in both directions. Rhiannon and Karen will be giving short readings from their recently-published China-based novels. Meanwhile, I will be reading from A Book of Changes: Sixty-Four Chance Pieces, my novel based on the Chinese divination manual the I Ching, and due to be published in 2015 by Earnshaw Books.

We’re keeping readings brief, as most of the evening will be given over to discussion; and there should be ample time for audience questions. We’re hoping to explore questions such as: the expectations of Western readers when they come to Chinese literature; the ethical and moral issues raised by engaging with other people’s myths and histories; who, if anyone, “owns” particular narratives; and what rich possibilities may be opened up by crossing between literary traditions.

I’m hugely looking forward to spending an evening talking with two fascinating and stimulating writers. If you want to come along to the event, you can buy tickets (£4 full price, or £3 concessions) here. There’s a bit more about my fellow panellists below:

Karen Ma is a Chinese-American author and journalist based in Beijing. Born in China, Ma spent her formative years in Hong Kong and Japan, before earning an M.A. degree in Chinese language and literature from the University of Washington (Seattle, U.S.) During her 20 plus years living in Japan and China, Ma worked as a journalist and translator, taught Chinese at several universities and wrote a non-fiction book about cross-cultural romance entitled Modern Madam Butterfly: Fantasy and Reality of Japanese Cross-cultural Relationships, published in 1996 by Charles E. Tuttle. Ma’s most recent book is Excess Baggage, a semi-autobiographical novel based loosely on her family’s experience as Chinese immigrants living in Tokyo during the post bubble years of 1990s, published by San Francisco-based China Books in 2013. After a stint of five years living in New Delhi, India, where she started a Chinese-language program at the Indian capital’s foremost international school, navigating administrations and India-China tension to build a successful curriculum, Ma has now settled back in Beijing with her family and is busy researching her next book.  http://www.karenmaauthor.com/

Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang is a British writer whose work contains strong international themes and focuses on historical, cultural and emotional fault lines. Rhiannon was born in Yorkshire, read Chinese at Oxford University, and has nearly thirty years experience of the greater China world. Her debut novel THE WOMAN WHO LOST CHINA was published by Open Books www.open-bks.com in 2013. It was listed by Rana Mitter in The Daily Telegraph in his ten book literary tour of China and has been well reviewed and sold internationally.  Rhiannon’s poem, Oxford is a Portwon first prize at the Melbourne Festival in 2013.

 

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