Three Authors Writing Today About China

Here are three recent, remarkable works of fiction by authors who are bringing China of many generations to life for readers in the Western world. The stories range from the distant Mongolian steppes through east China to San Francisco, with a historical sweep that crosses much of the last century.

Virginia Pye, River of Dust 
River of Dust

“On the windswept plains of northwestern China in 1910, Mongolian nomads swoop down upon an American missionary couple and kidnap their young child. In this story of retribution, these foreigners search for their lost son in a dangerous land that comes to haunt them and change not just what they believe but who they are.”

In her blog Virginia writes about having just returned from her first ever trip to China.   Visit also the River of Dust website  and Virginia’s Facebook page.

Lisa See, China Dolls

China Dolls“It’s 1938 in San Francisco: a world’s fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub.”  The friendship they form sustains them through trial and turmoil over the following fifty years.

Lisa reports that she is on her way to Yunnan to visit three of the Six Famous Tea Mountains for her next novel. “I’ll be staying in guest houses, visiting tea fermentation warehouses, trailing tea farmers as they go about their work, and sampling lots and lots of tea.”  Take a look at Lisa’s Facebook page and her website.

Janie Chang, Three Souls
Three Souls

” ‘We have three souls, or so I’d been told. But only in death could I confirm this…’ So begins the haunting and captivating tale, set in 1935 China, of the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin, who watches her own funeral from above and wonders why she is being denied entry to the afterlife.”

In a recent blog entry, How to Help an Author, Janie has written a comprehensive list of things readers can do to help their favorite authors find a wider audience for their stories.

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Trove of Old China Photos at the Visualising China Blog

While googling around for detail about Chinese compradors we came upon a post Last years of the comprador at the Visualising China Blog . This led Old China Books to Visualising China, “a web-based resource that allows users to explore more than 9,000 digitised images of historical photographs of China taken between 1870 and 1950. This tool, aimed at both researchers and more general users, brings information from related collections together with an interface that offers cross-searching and intuitive ways to filter image, video and textual resources according to time and geography.” The site is supported by the British Academy, “through its Academy Research Projects scheme, and from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, through an award to the British Inter-university China Centre.” Continue reading

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Philippine Typhoon Relief 2013

Making a donation was not as simple as hoped for, but we finally went with the American Red Cross “Typhoon Appeal” with the expectation that the donation will find its way to the folks who need it most. The Philippine Red Cross website DONATE page has a PayPal button but the transaction flopped when PayPal kept insisting it could not find our email address – even when we have no PayPal account. Our bank’s BillPay finally admitted they can’t pay bills out of country. At UNICEF we couldn’t find a choice for PI typhoon relief. The other “pay” logos on the Philippine Red Cross website we have no experience with.

Information about activities for typhoon relief being carried out by the Philippine Red Cross is posted on their website.

Salamat sa lahat. Mabuhay mahaba at yumabong! Thanks to all. Live long and prosper!

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Kindle eBooks for Yankee Mandarin, and Yang Shen Book I 1st Edition, ordered “unpublished”

Old China Books has been ordered by Amazon Kindle to “unpublish” two of three Kindle eBooks, for the reasons cited in the KDP email below. Accordingly, OCB will “unpublish” the eBook for the 1st Edition of Yang Shen, Book I, and the eBook for Yankee Mandarin.

The eBook for the 2nd Edition of Yang Shen, Book I, will continue to be available on Amazon, as will both paperback editions of Yang Shen. As there is only the eBook Edition of Yankee Mandarin and no paperback, this book will no longer be available on Amazon; it can still be requested at no charge directly from Old China Books. Yankee Mandarin was the subject of a post here in June of 2012 Experimenting with eBook formatting.

The order from Amazon Kindle follows.

Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2013 04:56:11 PM MST
From: Kindle Direct Publishing <>
To: “”
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry


Thank you for your email. We have confirmed that your books do not meet the KDP content quality guidelines because they do not contain significantly differentiated content:

Yang Shen: The God from the West, Book I, 1st Edition Lande, James (ASIN: B0073K97EU) – version with most sales

Yankee Mandarin Lande, James (ASIN: B0088LI9BA)

Yang Shen: The God from the West, Book I, 2nd Edition Lande, James (ASIN: B00F8FDUWM)

We only allow significantly differentiated versions of the same book in the Kindle Store. Please unpublish all but one of the books above. Alternatively, you may take no action at this point do and we will remove the duplicate version(s), with the exception of the one with the most sales.

Best Regards,
Julia L.
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

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Ten free copies of Yang Shen eBook from Flipreads

Old China Books is giving away ten promotional codes for a free copy of Yang Shen, Book I, 2nd Edition eBook from the Philippine electronic bookstore Flipreads.

The promo codes will be given to the first ten readers to leave meaningful comment on any of our posts about the Manilamen in Yang Shen. We would like to know what you think of these characters who appear so prominently in the novel, how well they are “drawn,” and how accurate the information about them seems to you.

Comments may be left on the Old China Books weblog, or on the Facebook Yang Shen page posts regarding the Manilamen.

To leave a comment on the Old China Books weblog, click on the Manilamen Category on the Old China Books home page.

On the Facebook Yang Shen page go to the page and scroll down to the posts (“earlier in 2013′” and in 2012). Look for “Manilamen and Mandarins – Filipinos in 1860s China” and leave your comment there below the post. Be sure you have Liked the page.

Upon review and acceptance of a comment, the reader will be sent a promo code for the free eBook from Flipreads. At the Flipreads site click on PROMO CODE on the Yang Shen page and proceed from there.

This promotion will end when the available promo codes are all given away. Notice of the end of the promotion will be posted on this page, and promotion offers posted elsewhere will be removed.

Giveaway Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by Old China Books (OCB) and in no way is this giveaway sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with either Facebook or WordPress. Information collected is limited to that collected when Liking a Facebook page, or when providing name and email address when leaving a WordPress comment. In signing up for this OCB promotion, participants release and indemnify Facebook and WordPress from all liability. For specific questions regarding OCB giveaways email  OCB reserves the right to change the terms or conditions of any promotion or giveaway at any time and without notice.
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“…journey to undiscovered countries, and boldly go where few have gone before.” A Review of Tom Carter’s China, Portrait of a People

Tom Carter’s photography book CHINA: Portrait of a People (second printing 2013, Blacksmith Books) is a remarkable photo-essay of China today, broad in scope and comprehensive of subject. Even when contrasted with the work of his predecessors, discussed below, there is something more about this book: a remarkable depth of insight, understanding, and feeling that Carter (1973-), an indigent wanderer from San Francisco, acquired for a people whose language he knew only slightly at the time he took the photos. Anyone able to overcome barriers to communication without knowing the language is an extraordinary person.

Of the 100+ reviews on Amazon already posted, many readers regard Carter’s Portrait as a surprising view into a “rapidly disappearing” China as the country dynamically thrusts forward into the new millennia. However, as the photos of John Thompson, Felice Beato, and other photographers of the 19th century are my point of departure, their work compared to Portrait illustrates substantially greater changes in China than any since 1949. Memory of more recent changes seems concentrated in metropolitan areas and along the coastlands rather than in the hinterland traipsed by Carter; perhaps such changes appear weighty because of a foreshortened time scale and accelerated development.

It is unusual for a book to be a revelation for such a broad spectrum of readers as CHINA, Portrait of a People has been: besides travelers who have never been to China, and expat residents proud of their knowledge of the country yet unfamiliar with the greater landscape, the book has revealed to native Chinese much of their own country they knew little about. The book expands boundaries, reveals “undiscovered countries,” and is likely to rouse from their indifference to China almost anyone who looks through these photos. Continue reading

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Tulou 土樓 Communities, “Closed Outside, Open Inside” – a Variety of Chinese Courtyard Architecture

Tulou communityThese reviews in which we get entangled do not result in more reviews of Yang Shen, but often they engulf the reviewer in unexpected subjects which themselves are engrossing. My review of Tom Carter’s China, Portrait of a People, which is finally nearly completed, is such an entanglement – the Fujian tulou Tom photographed are fascinating and deserving of more than a squib in a book review. How are they built, and how do folks live in the hivelike strongholds? Tom’s photo in Portrait of the interior of a 700-year-old tulou in Yuchanglou, Fujian, looks much more intimate than any apartment building – with the rooms of the several stories all in a circle so that your neighbors, lots of them, are staring in through your doors and windows! And the acoustics must make the inside very noisy. The epitome in communal living.

Chinese Courtyard House 2 layoutThat sounds familiar, of course, having just written the about crowding in Chinese Courtyard Houses  and More on Chinese Courtyard Houses  – “The rooms all looked into the courtyard and so faced each other and offered little privacy. Large windows and connecting doorways between adjacent rooms made it easy to see everything going on. This design was convenient for the grandfather, who wanted to know everything happening in his courtyard. In addition, it implied a warning to the family members: Watch your behavior! The lack of personal privacy made some family members feel extremely constrained and frustrated. A traditional proverb said that ‘there was a tragic drama in every courtyard. The deeper the courtyard, the sadder the stories’.Continue reading

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Video Survey of Chinese Architecture

Qibao Town in Minhang 闵行七宝镇风光

Qibao Town in Minhang 闵行七宝镇风光

Here’s a new playlist that presents a quick overview of many aspects of Chinese architecture. The playlist begins with some of Tom Carter’s photos in a video that selects those showing buildings, houses, and other structures. Besides being a photo essay of modern China, Tom’s China: Profile of a People also serves as a small photo survey of Chinese architecture that includes new and old, modern and traditional, mainstream and minority. Together with a number of other YouTube presentations on Chinese architecture, this playlist makes a quite comprehensive archive on the subject. Included are a couple of instructive animations, several Chinese TV series on architecture, views of Shanghai architecture, and courtyard houses. Some of the entries are in Mandarin.

View video playlist on Chinese architecture

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Finnegans Wake Recently Translated into Chinese

More than one reader has asked “when will it be translated into English?” However, late last year the first Chinese translation of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake 芬尼根的守灵夜 was announced and garnered quite a bit of attention for translator Ms Dai Congrong 戴从容. Here’s an example of the reportage: 

Finnegans Wake: Huge in China
by Kevin Murphy, Melville House
January 30, 2013

Dai Congrong, one brave translator
Dai Congrong, one brave translator

“Imagine the consternation translator Dai Congrong felt when she came across the following passage in James Joyce’s notoriously baffling Finnegans Wake:”

What clashes here of wills gen wont, oystrygods gaggin fishygods! Brekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek! Koax Koax Koax! Ualu Ualu Ualu Quaoouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes and the Verdons catapelting the camibalistics out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomeringstroms. Sod’s brood, be me fear! Sanglorians, save! Arms appeal with larms, appalling. Continue reading

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Will New Generations Ever Learn About Tiananmen?

On this 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre Chinese censors are frantic to suppress all remembrance of what happened in Beijing in 1989. In the West, there is an abundance of coverage recalling that day and its aftermath. Besides the news reports, there is also this video of the Tiananmen “Tank Man,” showing him stopping the line of tanks, climbing up to the top of the turret of the leading tank and, apparently shouting inside, and later being hustled away by security police.

According to the following Voice of America article, many protestors “have already been detained, placed under house arrest, or monitored closely in the lead-up to the sensitive anniversary.” Continue reading

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