An essential expedition
Critics have lauded Adam Williams’ novel, The Emperor’s Bone, as a chance to re-examine a largely ignored period of China’s past, writes Mei Jia.
Hong Kong-born British businessman and explorer Adam Williams has two lifelong fascinations – China and writing.
He combined the two to produce a historical novel about his family’s experience in the country in the 1920s.
“My family lived through the wars among the Chinese warlords in Northern China in that time,” Williams says. “They knew the threats of Chang Tso-lin (one of the key warlords then). My mother used to scare me when I was naughty with ‘You’d better watch out or Chang Tso-lin will come and get you’, because she was warned with the same words when she was young.” […]
Chinese critical responses
History and time traveling to the past are favorite themes in recent publications that cater to the taste of the popular books market in the country.
Compared to the Chinese ones, critics believe Adam Williams suggests a new and different mode of writing historical fiction through his novel The Emperor’s Bones.
“I found that a lot of Chinese historical novels separate the history and the characters clearly, without a sound combination,” says critic Xie Xizhang, “but in Williams’ novel we see a natural entity of personal background together with historic incidents.”
Critic Li Jianjun is also impressed by Williams’ narrative of history. […]
Two writers and a marriage made in literary heaven
Chongqing-born writer Hong Ying, whose influential works have been published in foreign languages since the 1990s, first met Adam Williams at a friend’s party, when he was caught up in the excitement of the publication of his first novel.
Then she was widely known for her novels K: the Art of Love, Peacock Cries, and the autobiographical Daughter of the River, and had lived in London for almost nine years.
“I spent an hour telling her how to write a book and get published in the UK, not knowing she was already a world-known writer,” Williams says.
Hong Ying, when recalling the first encounter, says she just listened patiently, and noticed how frank the man was, telling her all things – including the secrets of getting published. […]