Author Archive

Roof is open!

The Bookworm’s rooftop terrace is open for summer. Come relax with a glass of wine or pint of beer. And stay tuned for news about our rooftop events. Last year’s included Summer Cinema movie screenings and Heyrobics!

Book news: Paul French wins Edgar Award and Granta China launches

Midnight in Peking author Paul French bagged this year’s Edgar for Best Fact Crime. The Edgar is one of the highest honors in the mystery writing genre. Congrats Paul!

In other news, Granta China makes it debut with a special Britain edition. The magazine features translations of pieces published in the English magazine and includes work by David Mitchell, A.S. Byatt, Hari Kunzru, Kazuo Ishiguro, Geoff Dyer and Jeanette Winterson.

Head over to for an interview with the editors of Granta China, Peng Lun and Patrizia van Daalen.

Putong Hua: Home

Tonight 8:00pm at The Bookworm.

What better way to spend a Friday than to listen to and maybe join in some knee-slapping, tear-herking, good old-fashioned story telling. Putong Hua is back! This month’s theme: HOME.

Here’s a little something to get those creative juices flowing:

1. Three storytellers tell The Moth something about home. A writer and his sister take a trip home to bury their mother. A grandson brings joy to a nursing home. A Georgian woman goes to war to prevent her family home from being turned into a golf clubhouse.

2. Forget movie star home tours, take a Google maps tour of famous writers’ homes instead.

Ernest Hemingway’s apartment at 113 Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs — Paris France

 2. More eye porn for the book lover. Architectural Digest picks the best home libraries.



LumDimSum Interview Comedian Des Bishop

The fabulous LumDimSum has a great interview with comedian Des Bishop, the mastermind behind The Bookworm’s new monthy comedy club. Here are a few gems from their chat.

Des Bishop performs Saturday, April 27, 8:00pm. 100rmb. 

Shanghai is Pamela Anderson and Beijing is Scarlett Johansson. – Des Bishop

LDS: How did you come up with the idea to come to China for a year to learn Chinese in an effort to complete a stand-up show in Chinese to a Chinese audience within a year’s time? Of all the languages and countries to live for a year, why China?

DB: I worked in Dublin with a friend from China at a time when I was into Kung Fu and obsessed with all-things-Chinese. I went to

visit him in Dalian in 2004, and went back a few times after to travel around China myself. I thought China was really interesting in that it was very different from the West, not in a traditional way, but in how China had become what it is today. It shocked me in a good way, it caught me by surprise.

After doing a series about learning the Irish language and hearing more and more people talk about China, I didn’t feel like people were showing too much of what China was about. The method of learning a language and doing a gig is a great way to tell a story of a place. The challenging side of it, is that it took me five years to get it together, but it’s fun for a tv show and most people think I’m out of my mind anyway.

LDS: Comparing your previous experiences in China, what’s been the most noticeable changes this time around?

DB: When I came back to Beijing from Shanghai in 2009, I thought there was such a contrast to Shanghai feeling so much more international and modern and Beijing feeling a bit more Chinese, a bit more real. I think, maybe to a degree, Beijing is a little more international than it used to be (not going to make a decision on whether that’s good or bad), but already I notice hutong areas are hip in an international city way like East London or certain parts of Brooklyn. There’s a coolness in the hutongs. Something I’ve definitely noticed this time is that Chinese people have a lot more cash. I can’t back that up with facts, but even my Chinese friends are much more into shopping, they’re more flash.

LDS: More than just your goal of completing a Chinese stand-up show, you also have a film crew documenting your progress throughout the year for a new TV series. What do you want people abroad to see?

DB: I hope to observe cultural differences first-hand. Right now, all I know are the basic non-sensical stereotypes like “Beijing people use a lot of r’s” and “Shanghai people think they’re better than everyone else”. I want to learn more about each place, what’s unique about them, but I don’t want to learn about these things through reading Lonely Planet. I want to experience it myself and hear it through Chinese people themselves.

LDS: Observations so far?

DB: To me, Beijing and Shanghai are two very interesting cities because Shanghai is like that girl you see and you think, “Oh my god, she’s so hot, I just want to grab that” whereas Beijing is like a girl you don’t really know straight away, but then you get to know her and you realize she’s incredibly sexy, but doesn’t show it off. She’s the one you marry.

Shanghai is Pamela Anderson and Beijing is Scarlett Johansson.

Read the rest of LDS’s interview with Des Bishop at

New Infused Cocktails

The beginning of a new year is a time to change, a time to try something new…That´s why The Bookworm is greeting the year of the snake with a new menu of delicious cocktails using our own personal infused spirits, inspired by the authors we love.

Bolaño: Strawberry and jalapeños pepper infused tequila with orange juice

Alexander Pushkin: Basil and lime infused vodka with berry fruits and vermouth

Charles Dickens: Green tea and chamomile infused gin with ginger ale

Pablo Neruda: Banana and cinnamon infused rum with Baileys

More to come, come sample our new drink list!

Novelist Lev Grossman picks his favorite fictional cocktails, from the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), to Phiiip Marlowe’s signature gimlet.

A History of the Cocktail. Where did it come from?

And last,  hangovers cures.

Mastercard Buy One Get One free

During 2013, diners who pay for a main course with MasterCard will get a second main for free.

So bring a friend and dig in.


And the Letter of the Quiz is…G!

You thought he was joking, but he was entirely serious.

Quizmaster Tom Champagne (though he’s mostly into beers and rum and cokes these days) started the year with a letter “A” themed quiz and followed it with a Beyonce-heavy “B” quiz. Next week, he takes on the letter “G.”

Possible quiz questions:

Which composer wrote “Porgy and Bess?”

George Gershwin (Double Gs = double points?)

What is the G6 in the Far East Movement classic “Fly like a G6?”

Urban Dictionary: “A pimp a*% private jet made by Gulfstream. Only ballers, rappers, uber celebrities,* and successful executives are fly enough to get slizzard on a G6.”

*who knew urban dictionary uses the Oxford comma. A great article on the Oxford comma.

What is the Republican Party (USA) also called?

The Grand Old Party

Checkpoint Charlie separated which two countries?

East and West Germany


Update: Chinese New Year and Storytime with Hannah

Holiday Hours

Happy Year of the Snake!

The Bookworm will be closing early at 5pm on Saturday, February 9 for Chinese New Year’s Eve. We will be open during normal hours for the rest of the holiday.

Update: Storytime with Hannah

Teacher Yogita will be filling in for Hannah.

Storytime has been cancelled for Sunday, February 10 for Chinese New Year.

Note: Storytime will take a temporary hiatus March 10 and March 17 during The Bookworm Literary Festival. Don’t worry. BLF 2013 has plenty to offer the little ones, with appearances and workshops with award-winning children’s writers and illustrators. Check the festival website for more details about our Children’s Programme.

Lost Robert Burns Manuscripts Found

Now there’s a handsome laddie!

Just in time for Burns’ Night researchers have found not one, but three long-lost manuscripts by legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns.

The literary treasures uncovered also include a love letter, a handwritten manuscript of the song “Phillis the fair,” and a pencil manuscript of an early draft of “Ode to a Woodlark.

You can join in for poetry, pageantry and haggis at The Bookworm’s Burns’ Supper next Friday, January 25.

To get you in the spirit, here’s the famous address to Haggis (because no one ever said you should talk to your food as long as you don’t play with it):

Address to a Haggis in Scots dialect:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!

Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,

Painch, tripe, or thairm:

Weel are ye wordy of a grace

As lang’s my arm.

And the standard English translation:

Fair is your honest cheerful face,

Great chieftain of the pudding race!

Above them all you take your place,

Stomach, tripe or intestines:

Well are you worthy of a grace

As long as my arm.

Asymptote’s Sinophone “20 under 40″ list

Asymptote, an online journal of literature from around the globe, will be celebrating its second anniversary at The Bookworm next Thursday in a special event on “Chinese Literature in Translation” with Pathlight magazine.

Last year, the journal’s editors compiled a Sinophone “20 Under 40″ list profiling twenty of the most promising young authors in the Chinese-speaking world.

On the list: A Yi, who will be speaking at BLF 2013.

The piece calls A Yi “The Bullet that cuts through reality and absurdity” and continues:

A Yi is a writer who has known hardship. In the time he spent as a police officer, he encountered many corpses, each having met with a very specific and cruel death. The deaths’ specificity was what made them real to him; their cruelty made them stories waiting to be told. In the short story “Never Meant to Kill,” he tells one such tale, and even gives his real name (Ai Guozhu) to one of the dead people in the story.

An admirer of literature with depth and technique, A Yi’s own work sparkles with intelligence. Life may cheat you, he has said, and it may go on cheating you, but you shouldn’t cheat yourself. A Yi may not know which is the right way forward, but he has a high regard for the body—for its ability to react violently–, and for the human spirit and its propensity for independence. His stories have a common thread: Oppression and vulgarity are always defeated, freedom always the hard-earned prize….

In the chilling short story “First to Know,” the introspective protagonists believe that life is just killing time between active and passive modes, between the intentional and the unintentional. If these characters seem to contain shades of Borges and Camus, A Yi would add Faulkner, Alessandro Baricco, and Isaac Bashevis Singer to the list of writers he takes a page from. Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, Marquez, Yu Hua, and especially Kafka are other acknowledged influences. Yet this should not be understood as stealing from these masters: as much as A Yi has familiarized himself with the style of these western greats, he has at the same time rooted his work in a Chinese reality. Far from being stiff copies, his works, rendered in an utterly contemporary voice, burst with personality and soul. No wonder Bei Dao praised him as one of the best novelists writing in Chinese today.

Check Asymptote’s website for the entire feature.

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