Thursday 31 March 2016

Indie Spotlight: Pierre Dimaculangan

Indie Spotlight is our monthly column on self-publishing. This month Siobhan Daiko interviews Pierre Dimaculangan, who was born in Manila, although he now lives in the States.  Pierre has just published The Sage, the Swordsman and the Scholars, the first in his projected historical fantasy trilogy, Trials of the Middle Kingdom (China).

When enigmatic nonhuman visitors arrive from the sea, the very foundations of the Middle Kingdom are under attack. The evil agenda of the invaders sparks a war that will determine the fate of the Ming Dynasty and the nations beyond. A young, legendary swordsman allies himself with a banished Shaolin monk, a defeated bandit chieftain, a carefree Mongol, and an unknown philosopher who knows the only hope for victory. Together, this band of misfits strives to be proven worthy of the impossible task before them. Determined to combat the invaders' initial offensives, they must also repel countless internal enemies who have rallied to bring down the mighty Ming Dynasty.

So: over to Siobhan and Pierre…

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Tuesday 29 March 2016

500 words from Jeffrey Wasserstrom

500 words a series of guest posts from authors writing about Asia, or published by Asia-based, or Asia-focused, publishing houses, in which they talk about their latest books. Here Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a California-based historian of modern China, discusses Eight Juxtapositions: China Through Imperfect Analogies. This uses eight experimental and imperfect analogies to challenge readers to think about China in new ways. The analogies touch on everybody from Pope Francis to Xi Jinping to Mark Twain, with stop-offs everywhere from Manchukuo, to Tiananmen Square, to the Berlin Wall, to the Sistine Chapel.

So: Over to Jeff…

Sunday 27 March 2016

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter and happy Easter reading from Asian Books Blog.

Thursday 24 March 2016

FORDEC by Chantal Jauvin

As announced in February, the winner of the Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar Year in the Year of the Ram / Goat, was The Boy with a Bamboo Heart, by Dr. Amporn Wathanavongs with Chantal Jauvin, published by Maverick House (Ireland). The book is an account of Dr. Amporn’s life.  He is today one of Thailand's most generous benefactors – but he didn’t have an easy start to life.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

This week in Asian Review of Books

See the Asian Review of Books for ever-interesting discussion. Here are links to its newest reviews, excerpts, letters, essays, listings, translations, news items, and round ups:

Sunday 20 March 2016

Thursday 17 March 2016

Shakespeare and Asia by Michael Dobson

April 23rd this year is Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary, and throughout 2016 arts organisations in the UK are holding events to celebrate his life and works. Beyond the UK, the British Council has organised Shakespeare Lives, a global programme of events and activities which will reach Asia along with every other continent. Within Asia theatres, libraries and universities are also offering tributes. For example in January Beijing’s Star Theatre presented With Love, William Shakespeare, which reinterpreted favourites such as Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream in the context of modern China. Against this background, Asian Books Blog is delighted to re-post, from the blog of Oxford University Press, this overview of the on-going discussion between Shakespeare and Asia, by Michael Dobson.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Saturday 12 March 2016

Just quickly...

It's more cookery than literary, but you may enjoy the account I wrote with Elizabeth Roberts of a colonial era cookbook, for the UK Telegraph. Click here.

Monsoon Books opens UK office

Monsoon Books, the Singapore-registered award-winning independent publisher of English-language books and eBooks on Asia, has opened an office in the UK for its editorial and marketing teams. 

Heading up the UK side is founder and publisher, Philip Tatham who will commute between the offices in the UK and Singapore.

Monsoon Books publishes books with Asian themes by authors from both East and West, and both new and established. Its list includes a mix of literary and commercial fiction, and nonfiction - biography and autobiography, true crime, food and drink, history, travelogues and current affairs.

Thursday 3 March 2016

500 words from Sylvia Vetta

500 words a series of guest posts from authors writing about Asia, or published by Asia-based, or Asia-focussed, publishing houses, in which they talk about their latest books. Here UK-based Sylvia Vetta talks about her new novel, Brushstrokes in Time. This is written in the form of a memoir of a fictional Chinese artist, Little Winter, who is writing her life story for her American daughter. Back in the day, Little Winter was part of the Stars, a short-lived avant-garde group of self-taught artists operating in Beijing between 1979 and 1983, staging outdoor exhibitions, street demonstrations and public readings. Her memories of a love affair with a man frustrated by being controlled by the state link her private life to wider hopes for freedom of expression.  Controversially, the novel touches on the massacre in Tiananmen Square, in 1989. 

So: over to Sylvia…

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Olivia & Sophia published today in the UK

Two audacious women. One fascinating man.

My historical novel, Olivia & Sophia, which has been out in Asia since November, publishes today in the UK.

The novel examines the adventures of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the remarkable founder of Singapore, through the eyes of his two wives, Olivia, his beloved first wife, who died young, and Sophia, the second wife who outlived him. Each woman was intelligent and inquisitive, but otherwise they were very different: one sexy and scandalous; the other a pious, stalwart, adoring wife and mother. The novel transports you from London to India, and to Java, Sumatra and Singapore. It is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, as they unfolded both in Europe, and in Asia, and of international trade, during a time of great social and intellectual change.

The story in brief...

When Tom Raffles sets sail from the cold, damp confines of Georgian London to make his name and fortune in the tropics, he takes with him his new wife, Olivia, a raffish beauty with a scandalous past. She infatuates his closest friend, a poet, and one of his bitterest rivals, a soldier. Raffles turns a blind eye – or does he just pretend to?

February 1817: After Olivia’s death, and back on leave in London, Raffles, a man once again in need of a wife, makes a practical marriage. Sophia, no beauty, but curious and intelligent, embraces the opportunity of an exciting life abroad. Marriage brings her great joy but also great sadness. Her life with Raffles becomes a catalogue of loss: of their children, of their possessions, of their savings.

And all the while, Raffles, driven and talented, manoeuvres at the centre of global networks of power, trade, politics and diplomacy. His scheming culminates, to his eventual glory, with the founding of a new trading post: Singapore.

Olivia & Sophia is now available in paperback from Amazon UK here. It is also available as an eBook here.