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Meet the Author: Sam Ferrer

samlast-gods-full-cover-final2The Bookworm spoke with Sam Ferrer, the author of The Last Gods of Indochine and a professional double bassist, member of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, about his recently published novel and his life as a writer. Sam will speak at The Bookworm on October 27th.

The BW: We know that as a musician, you are used to writing songs, but what first inspired you to write novels?

Sam: I had a long-held dream to write a novel, but never expected it to happen until much later in life. After a trip to Cambodia, I was blindsided by a premise I thought would be fascinating for a story, so one night I made a decision to go for it. That was the beginning of a 12 year journey of writing and editing a novel. Although writing fiction has little in common with writing songs, there are some important mindsets that proved essential: faith in small steps, embracing criticism (which can easily be mistaken for failure), and long-term vision are all disciplines I already had as a musician, so I didn’t buckle when the going got rough.

The BW: The book focuses on Indochina. Where did your interest in this topic come from?

Sam:During that trip I was struck by a photograph of well-dressed promenaders and vintage cars at the footsteps of a full-scale reconstruction of the top level of Angkor Wat at the 1922 Colonial Exposition in Marseille. I was taken by the exploration and imagination of La Belle Époque and how the French fixation on the East captured perhaps the most exotic time during the colonial age. But even more so, I was inspired by the life of explorer Henri Mouhot, who was credited for “discovering” the temples in 1860.

The BW: What aspects of writing the novel did you enjoy? Were there any aspects you found particularly challenging?

Sam: Prose. From the start it was always my priority to write a beautiful novel, and both the most challenging and rewarding part during over one hundred passes of editing was creating fluid, smooth, and hopefully beautiful, prose. If successful, readers will enjoy the writing for its own sake.

The BW:For anyone who is interested in the topic, but may not yet have had time to read/finish your book,  what further insights can we expect from your book talk?

Sam: We can talk about history as a source of inspiration. There is a great deal of historical setting that both enriches and drives the plot. I’ve created a fictitious granddaughter of Mouhot and grafted excerpts from his actual journal into the story (published posthumously in France soon after he died in the jungles of Laos).

The BW:Do you have any plans to bring out new novels in the future?

Sam: I’ve started another work of historical fiction that, in fact, is Chinese in context—with a major twist of setting. However, I’ve had to put it on hold as I’ve recently hosted a very successful crowdfunding campaign to record another CD for my band, Shaolin Fez. As the producer, this will keep me very busy until mid-2017 at which time I hope to dive back into my second novel.

The BW: What is your biggest dream for your writing career?

Sam: My aspirations as a writer are not to churn out one novel after another. I’m far more interested in letting plots, characters, settings, and prose distill for a good while before taking the lid off. By the end of my life, I would be content if I have a few novels published that have the same sweat and patience it took to create The Last Gods of Indochine.

Meet the Author: Jennifer Haigh

heatlight-hc-cjhWe are excited to meet Jennifer Haigh who will speak at The Bookworm on October 24th about her recently published novel Heat and Light.  Heat and Light, the sixth book by American author Jennifer Haigh, looks at a community divided by the controversy over fracking. Bakerton is a dying Pennsylvania coal town that’s offered a surprise third act when the natural gas industry come to town. To drill or not to drill?  The question pits husband against wife, neighbor against neighbor, entrepreneur against environmentalist.  The Bookworm asked Jennifer a couple of questions to help our readers understand her work more.

The BW: What first inspired you to write novels?

Jennifer: I wrote short stories for many years before I attempted a novel. To me, a novel always begins with the moment after which nothing will ever be the same. When I’m writing, I don’t think about the plot so much as causality, how a single event has consequences that lead to more consequences. Working on a larger canvas allows me to play out this chain of causality in many different lives.

The BW:  Heat and Light depicts a community blessed and cursed by its natural resources. Where did your interest in this topic come from?

Jennifer: The novel is set in a place I’ve written about before, a northern Appalachian coal town modeled on the one I grew up in. I wrote one novel,Baker Towers, about the town in its heyday; and a later book, News From Heaven, about what happened to the town when the mines went bust. Heat and Light looks at how the community responds when the gas industry comes to town and offers it a surprise third act.

The BW: What aspects of writing the novel did you enjoy? Were there any aspects you found particularly challenging?

Jennifer: Everything about this novel challenged me. In the five years I spent researching and writing it, it changed shape constantly. As I wrote, I realized the story was much larger than the controversy over gas drilling. It’s really a story about the tension between economic development and protecting the environment, a question that it is particularly relevant here in China.

The BW: For anyone who is interested in the topic, but may not yet have had time to read/finish your book,  what further insights can we expect from your book talk?

Jennifer: I’ll be talking about writing as a process of discovery. More than any other book I’ve written, this one defied my attempts at planning and organization. It’s a big, complicated story, and to write it, I had to surrender to the chaos. It was a formative experience for me as a writer.

 

The BW: What is your biggest dream for your writing career?

Jennifer: All I want is to keep going, to get up every day and work, to write something true.

 

Discounted Tickets for Students for The Bookworm Comedy Night

final-bj-mediaDear Students! To celebrate the upcoming Golden Week Holiday, we would like to offer you discounted tickets for The Bookworm Comedy Night. This offer is limited so don’t best online casino delay! Click here to buy your discounted tickets. Don’t forget to bring your student ID to prove you really deserve this discount 🙂

Or email order@beijingbookworm.com to reserve your ticket

2016 Man Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

The shortlist for The 2016 Man Booker Prize has been announced! This year’s list consists of six titles that have been chosen from the thirteen titles appearing in the longlist. Here is the shortlist:

 

Paul Beatty –The Selloutman-booker-prize-2016-logo

Deborah Levy –Hot Milk

Graeme Macrae Burnet –His Bloody Project

Ottessa Moshfegh –Eileen

David Szalay –All That Man is

Madeleine Thien –Do Not Say We Have Nothing

 

 

Winning The Man Booker Prize is an incredible accolade for any writer –it guarantees inter
national recognition and an increase in sales. Last year’s winner, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James had a 933% increase in sales, with 12,466 physical copies sold in the week following his win.

 

The Man Booker Prize was established in 1968, originally known as the Booker-McConnell Prize. In 2002, the administration of the prize was transferred to the Booker Prize Foundation, sponsored by investment company Man Group. The judges for the Man Booker Prize vary each year, they are chosen by The Booker Prize Advisory Committee. The judges usually represent all aspects of the literary and arts world. For instance, this year’s judges include a writer, a literary professor, a historian an actor and a columnist.

 

This year’s shortlist is an exciting one. All six titles are diverse story-wise, but are all connected by their interest in the world at large.

 

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Hot Milk tells the story of a daughter’s relationship with her hypochondriac mother. Deborah Levy’s novel is heavily shrouded with symbolism and twisted humor, a hypnotic story that is very compelling for the readers.

 

Paul Beatty’s The Sellout challenges the principles of the United States Constitution through a compelling tale of racial equality and a person’s remarkable life journey in the ghetto outskirts of Los Angeles.

 

Eileen is a psychological thriller about a woman who feels trapped in life and finds relieve in her perverse fantasies. Riddled with black comedy, Eileen is a sinister yet unexpectedly funny novel.

 

Graeme Macrae Burnet courtroom drama about murders taking place during 1869 is enticing and masterfully told. Its psychological crime plot is character-driven and very engaging.

 

Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a powerful story about Chinese history and the impact it has on the novel’s protagonist. It is filled with complexity, wisdom and a heartbreaking tale that is difficult to forget.

 

 

All That Man Is asks existential questions that every one has pondered at some point in life. It tells the tale of nine men at different stages in life, all asking the same questions: What is my life –here and now, all about?

 

The winner of the Man Booker Prize 2016 will be announced on the 25th of October!

Business Hours During Chinese New Year Holidays

During the period of Chinese Monkey2016New Year Holidays (February 8th – 12th)  we are open from 11.00 am to 9.00 pm. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

Summer Book Sale

booksaleSummer Book Sale will be held on July 4th and July 5th from 12pm to 6pm. 

Two Quiz Nights in May Sponsored by Sherpa’s!

sherpas-logo1Great news, quiz-goers: Sherpa‘s Food Delivery Service will sponsor the May 11th and May 25th Bookworm pub quizzes. This means the winning team on those nights will receive six vouchers worth 80rmb each! Use them to order food from Wagas, Moka Bros, Hatsune and many of your favorite Beijing restaurants. Jonathan White hosts. Remember, Bookworm Quiz Night happens every Monday beginning at 8pm.

Friday Movie Night on May 8th

Bird

We are still screening our Oscar-winning films, and this Friday’s movie choice is Birdman. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, along with Best Director for González Iñárritu, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography from a total of nine nominations, tying it with The Grand Budapest Hotel for being the most nominated film of the Academy’s 87th annual awards ceremony

Start at 7.30pm – FREE

Eileen Chang’s ‘Half a Lifelong Romance’ finally released in English

Eileen Chang’s romantic classic Half a Lifelong Romance is finally getting a US release – and it only took half a lifetime! After 47 years without an English translation, Penguin translated the book late last year, with the US edition being published by Vintage Books next month.

The book has in the past been adapted for film – Ann Hui’s Eighteen Springs – when her work resurged in popularity in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the 80s and 90s. There is a rising awareness of Chang’s literature in the West partly thanks to that surge, which resulted in Ang Lee’s award-winning film adaptation of her novel Lust, Caution. Many Western universities now teach her short stories as part of their Chinese Literature programs.

Chang is the first Chinese woman published by Penguin Classics.

 

 

Book Club Announcement

hanging devilsAfter a successful first meeting of the Beijing Bookworm Book Club, we have chosen our next book, local author He Jiahong’s crime novel Hanging Devils. By the way, He Jiahong is coming to the Bookworm Literary Festival in March, so you will have a unique chance to meet the author and share all the ideas you have discussed during the Book Club session. The book is in stock and can be purchased at The Bookworm. 

The date for the next Book Club meeting is Wednesday March 4, 7:30pm, and is FREE.

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