Sofia International Literary Festival

Will Snippets Leave a Comment

It was a pleasure to be back in Sofia last week for the Sofia International Literary Festival, which must be one of the friendliest festivals I have ever been to. I was interviewed by the wonderful journalist Beloslava Dimitrova. I always like events that are not scripted in advance — it is good to think on your feet. So the resulting …

Graffiti and Numerology in Leicester

Will Snippets 10 Comments

The I Ching, it seems, gets everywhere. This morning, as I was walking into town here in Leicester, I spotted some strange symbols painted onto a building-site hoarding outside Tesco, just by the park. The first thing that caught my eye was an image of the trigram dui (兌) ☱, or ‘lake’.     In case of any ambiguity, next door was written …

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

Will Snippets Leave a Comment

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 …

The Whatever-it-is of Existence

Will Snippets Leave a Comment

It is seventeen years since I was last here in India. Back then, I was travelling around the Buddhist pilgrimage sites as a young and rather earnest aspiring Buddhist, making notes towards an excessively pious travelogue that I’m now rather glad was never published. Now I find myself back in India to launch the paperback of my novel The Descent …

A. C. Graham on the Uses of Divination

Will Snippets 3 Comments

I thought that this was worth sharing. It comes from A.C. Graham’s [amazon text=Disputers of the Tao&asin=0812690885], and is about the creative potential of divination techniques such as the Yijing, even if we accept (as I do) that the divinatory process is simply an exercise in playing with randomness.   An openness to chance influences loosing thought from preconceptions is indispensable to …

Three Drinking Poems for National Poetry Day

Will Snippets 2 Comments

National poetry day this year takes “memory” as its theme, so I thought that I should share these three rough translations from Chinese. All three of them are drinking poems — oblivion and forgetting being the other side of memory. The first poem is by Liu Zongyuan (柳宗元), and is about drinking wine at night in a Buddhist temple. The …

Fashionable topics

Will Snippets 2 Comments

I’ve just finished reading Julia Lovell’s translation of Lao She’s wonderful novel, Mr. Ma and Son, and I thought I’d share the following short quote. In the book, the hapless ex-missionary, Reverend Ely, is trying to persuade Mr. Ma to write a book comparing Western and Chinese cultures. The good clergyman is not entirely disinterested in his urging, because he himself is working on a book called A …