Building 4, Nan Sanlitun Road,
Chaoyang District, Beijing
Friday, May 24, 7:30pm
The Chinese translation of Adam Williams’s novel set in China’s turbulent warlord period of the 1920s, The Emperor’s Bones, hit the number one spot on China’s biggest on-line bookseller, Dang Dang Wang’s New Fiction list. For a foreign novel in translation to become top of the charts in China is rare enough, and this is probably the first time that a foreign historical novel about China itself has achieved it. Controversially, Williams’s Chinese publisher wrote on the cover: “A period of Chinese history that no Chinese writer has ever directly faced, and now it’s been written by a foreign author…”
Is there such a thing as the ownership of a country’s history? What are we fictionalizing in historical fiction? How much do the politics or cultural mores of our own times interpret what happened before? Are there certain topics that are too close for us to see objectively and so need the perspective of an outsider? Novelists Adam Williams, Hong Ying, Chan Koonchung and Jiang Fang Zhou have all tackled China’s history in different ways through their writing. This expert panel looks at how Chinese and foreign novelists approach such a daunting task…
At a seminar and press conference held at the China Club, Beijing, today, several eminent academics, critics, writers and essayists gathered at to discuss Adam Williams’s historical novel about China, The Emperor’s Bones, published in China by Phoenix Books last week and still in the top 10 of Dang Dang Wang’s bestselling list. Williams is also believed to be the first foreign historical novelist writing about China to be published in China since Pearl Buck in the 1930s.
Among those speaking were:
Attending were journalists from Beijing’s main newspapers and literary magazines. The critics’ comments were recorded and will be made the subject of articles in literary journals.
The event was attended by Joanna Burke, Cultural Minister and Director of the British Council in China.
Quite pleasing to hear that for the whole day Qian Long’s Bones – the Chinese version of The Emperor’s Bones – was No 1 in the new novels category on Dang Dang Wang, China’s home grown Amazon.com. It’s just been pipped to second place, but that’s no shame because I’m being told by Chinese editor friends that very few foreign fiction writers make top ten in China. Only ones they could think of was Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Martel’s Life of Pi.
It’s early days. I’m having my first big press conference on 14th May.
The Emperor’s Bones is now published in Chinese and is OUT NOW in bookshops all over China.
From Chopsticks Club June News:
On 24 May, in the heart of Salisbury, the members of the audience were privileged to listen to two men with a long and insightful understanding of China, both past and present. Invited by the Salisbury Arts Festival to produce an event as part of this year’s festival cultural theme of China, this event was the brain-child of the Club. Bringing together author and businessman, Adam Williams, with former Ambassador to Beijing, Sir Christopher Hum, this dialogue / literary event was light-hearted, at times, very serious, but always showing understanding and knowledge of China.
Thank you to those Club members who travelled from London specially to join the event and those who supported with logistics and by attending from down-town Salisbury. We were delighted to be able to host such an event with the vision to spread understanding about China into the UK’s southwest.
Adam will be speaking at Malfest – The Malpas Arts and Literary Festival – on Saturday 21st May at 5.00pm.
China – A Personal View
As a child he listened to stories from his mother and grandmother about their lives in China between the two World Wars and used many of these stories in his writing in later life. After graduation from Oxford, Adam’s dreams of becoming the future Peter Fleming were interrupted as China and his heritage called him back to the Far East.
For reservation details and further information please Click Here!
Adam will be speaking at The Salisbury International Arts Festival on Sunday 22nd May at 2.00pm.
Chopsticks Club presents: Adam Williams in conversation with Sir Christopher Hum
Join the Chopsticks Club who present this talk with Adam Williams, novelist and businessman, alongside Sir Christopher Hum, Ambassador to China 2002-2005.
The Chopsticks Club is a unique network for China professionals, promoting Sino-UK understanding and acting as a bridge between the Chinese and British communities in the UK.
For reservation details and further information please Click Here!
Earnshaw Books has republished a book first printed in China in 1926 called Silhouettes of Peking by D de Martel and L de Hoyer, illustrated by Sapajou and with a new foreword by Adam Williams.
In 1926 the expatriate community in China was bracing itself for an uncertain future. The previous year British policemen in Shanghai had shot several students protesting against imperialism. Commerce was still suffering from the subsequent general strike. Now China was in a state of civil war. From Canton, the ‘Northern Expedition’, an army consisting of Nationalists and Communists, was advancing towards Wuhan, easily smashing the Warlord forces ranged against them. Nobody was clear what the Nationalist leader, General Chiang Kai-shek, wanted, but they feared the worst. With his Russian advisers, Galen and Borodin, he was thought to be as Red as his paymaster Stalin. Western interests seemed threatened. The International Concession in Shanghai was taking all precautions. Its boulevards began to sprout barbed wire and sandbags as British troops patrolled the streets.
It was therefore a welcome diversion in this charged up atmosphere when the small Peking publishing house, China Booksellers, produced a slim novel, rumoured to be wickedly salacious and gorgeously illustrated by the popular Shanghai artist and cartoonist, Sapajou. The biggest surprise, however, was that one of the authors of this scandalous sensation was the Minister of the French Legation in Peking, the seasoned diplomat, Le Comte Damien de Martel. The foreign community forgot their troubles and scattered off to the beach resorts in Tsingtao and Peitaiho, a copy of ‘Silhouettes of Peking’ in their hand luggage.
What they read was sheer escapism. The delicious roman took them away from the louring tensions of the revolutionary 1920s back a decade to the early days of the Chinese Republic. In their minds that had been a golden age, the China many dreamed of when they took the steamer from Europe. Nobody then was threatened by warlords or Bolsheviks. An amenable military strongman, Yuan Shikai, listened respectfully to the top-hatted representatives of the Powers, who in their leisure moments, lived a luxurious existence, dining, racing and picnicking among the picturesque ruins of a romantic Imperial China. [...]
‘Silhouettes of Peking’ is one of a remarkable number of excellent novels, written in the early years of the 20th Century by expatriates living in Peking. Authors were aesthetes like Sir Harold Acton, diplomats like Daniele Vare, travellers like W Somerset Maugham, or ‘spouses’ like Anne Bridge. It is from these novels, as well as the memoirs of Sir Reginald Johnston, John Blofeld and George Kates and guidebooks like Nagel and Juliet Bredon’s ‘Peking’ that we draw our very vivid portrait of the rarefied life these privileged foreigners experienced. If there is one word that always is repeated, it is “magic”. ‘Silhouettes of Peking’ takes an honourable place in the pantheon …
Please click on thumbnails below to scroll through the gallery:
Review by 谭光磊 [Gray Tan]
7F-3, No.106, Sec.3, Hsin-Yi Rd., Taipei, 106, Taiwan, R.O.C.
886-2-27059231 (Tel) 886-2-27059610 (fax)
法兰克福书展将至，我开始陆续收到国外客户寄来的书店和重点新书。几天前，我在英国 ILA（Intercontinental Literary Agency）的电子报上看到一本即将出版的小说，叫做《炼金术士之书》，作者是亚当‧威廉斯（Adam Williams），故事描述 1938 年西班牙内战期间，共和政府军绑架了品森教授（Pinzon）和他的孙子，把祖孙俩连同一群村民关进安达鲁西亚地区的圣詹姆士教堂。品森教授的专长是中世 纪研究，两人在教堂里找到一条地底密道，赫然发现教堂下埋藏着一座沉睡数百年的清真寺。
他们在寺庙遗迹里找到一本古书，系由九百年前的犹太人撒母耳（Samuel the Jew）所著，他身兼医者、哲人和炼金术士等身份，不仅写下了一生的故事，更详细描述中世纪西班牙基督徒、穆斯林和犹太人间的宗教冲突与爱恨情仇，以及动 荡年代中的情谊。这本「炼金术士之书」不仅是珍贵的历史文献，更预见了二十世纪意识型态纷争的世界，还埋藏了能让教授祖孙重获自由的关键秘密……
我一看故事简介就非常喜欢，觉得颇有《爷爷的微笑》的祖孙情谊加上《风之影》的神秘古书和西班牙内战故事，立刻向国外索取电子档。我上网查资料，发 现这是威廉斯的第四本小说，他之前出过三本大部头历史小说，皆以近代中国为背景，处女作《天乐院》（The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure）曾掀起英国出版界竞标大战，Hodder 最后击败 Macmillan 和 Transworld，以六位数英镑高价得标，《天乐院》售出十二国版权，轰动一时。[...]
Captures the imagination from page one….the perfect book for curling up with at the weekend! SHE
Rewarding novel of love and friendship connecting worlds a thousand years apart! SUN
The parallels between past and present in the book, and again with reality, will touch the heart of any reader! STRAITS TIMES
Look in your local bookshop or click here to buy a copy.