Author Archive

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.

Literary Weekend at Atelier – Come Play With Words

Note: This event is off-site at Atelier, a French-style school dedicated to the study of the visual, literary and the performing arts, located in the heart of Sanlitun.

Inspired by the French Radio Show on French Culture “Les Papous dans la tête,” this event is dedicated to lovers of words and literature as well as those who need to be pushed to use words in fun new ways!

Atelier and The Bookworm propose an afternoon of literay and creative games for adults and teenagers (14 and older).
From shopping list to poetry, all roads lead to writing!
Led by Helen Wing (writer and poet) and Virginie Mangin (journalist), you can juggle, play, provocate, create, do your own word-cooking while participating to hilarious and stimulating literary games.
Warm up your neurons, it’s your turn!
French day: Saturday the 19th of January 2:30pm

English day: Sunday the 20th of January 2:30pm
50 rmb (30rmb for students) at Atelier. Register at [email protected].
Apt C202  JinXiu Yuan
Xing Fu Cun  Zhong Lu
Chaoyang          district
100027  Beijing   China
朝阳区幸福村中路 锦绣园
C 座 202 100027 北京中国

Mo Yan’s Nobel Banquet Speech

Newly minted Nobel-laureate Mo Yan picked up his prize in Stockholm this past Monday.

His speech will do little to appease his critics (including Salman Rushdie, who with typical applomb called Mo Yan a “patsy” of the regime). It neither criticized government censorship nor called for the release of fellow Nobel Laureate dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Instead, the writer said that for “a farm boy from Gaomi’s Northeast Township in far-away China, standing here in this world-famous hall after having received the Nobel Prize in Literature feels like a fairy tale, but of course it is true.”

The closest reference to politics cames when Mo said, “I am also well aware that literature only has a minimal influence on political disputes or economic crises in the world, but its significance to human beings is ancient. When literature exists, perhaps we do not notice how important it is, but when it does not exist, our lives become coarsened and brutal. For this reason, I am proud of my profession, but also aware of its importance.”

Instead, he spoke of the impact that his rural upbringing had on his work, ending his speech: “I was, am and always will be one of you. I also thank the fertile soil that gave birth to me and nurtured me. It is often said that a person is shaped by the place where he grows up. I am a storyteller, who has found nourishment in your humid soil. Everything that I have done, I have done to thank you!”

Read the full speech here.

The 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize Longlist

Drum roll please! The novels longlisted for the prestigious 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize are out.

The list includes fifteen authors from nine different Asian countries. Special kudos to Chinese authors Sheng Keyi, of Northern Girls, and Tie Ning – The Bathing Women

The winner will be announced on March 14th, 2013. Good luck!

Full list:

–         Goat Days – Benyamin (India)

–         Between Clay and Dust – Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)

–         Another Country – Anjali Joseph (India)

–         The Briefcase – Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)

–         Thinner Than Skin – Uzma Aslam Khan (Pakistan)

–         Ru – Kim Thúy (Vietnam / Canada*)

–         Black Flower – Young-Ha Kim (South Korea)

–         Island of a Thousand Mirrors – Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka)

–         Silent House – Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)

–         Honour – Elif Shafak (Turkey)

–         Northern Girls – Sheng Keyi (China)

–         The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)

–         The Road To Urbino – Roma Tearne (Sri Lanka / U.K.*)

–         Narcopolis – Jeet Thayil (India)

–         The Bathing Women – Tie Ning (China)

When Venus Transits the Sun: A Q & A with astronomer Richard Strom

Understanding Science is a new event series of scientific seminars for the general public, brought to you by The Institute of Physics (IOP), RSC and Euraxess: Researchers in Motion. This Wednesday, Richard Strom (NAOC, ASTRON & University of Amsterdam) discusses “When Venus Transits the Sun: Heroic efforts to observe a rare event.” This event is brought to you by The Institute of Physics (IOP), RSC and Euraxess: Researchers in Motion.

Here, event speaker astronomer Richard Strom gives some insight into the once in a lifetime phenomenon. 

Mengfei Chen: What actually happens when Venus transits the Sun? What does it look like?

Richard Strom: Only the inner planets (Venus and Mercury) can pass between the earth and the sun, blocking a tiny amount of sunlight. During a Venus transit the sunlight is dimmed by about 0.1% (it’s a mini- mini- mini-solar eclipse). In that sense not very impressive. But a transit of Venus can be seen with the unaided eye (Mercury cannot, it’s too small), provided solar glare is dimmed (for example by haze, smoke, observing when the sun is near the horizon, or through a solar filter). It looks rather like a small sunspot, and in fact many medieval reports of transits were actually observations of sunspots. Someone I know who saw the 2004 transit of Venus said, it looks like someone punched a hole in the sun.

MC: Have you seen it? Could you describe the experience?

RS: I have seen it, with the aid of a telescope. While nowhere near as impressive as a solar eclipse, it was a special moment to think that no one then alive had seen the previous Venus transit (in 1882). Unlike a sunspot, the shadow of the planet was perfectly round, with a clean, unfuzzy appearance; beautiful in its modest way.

MC: When was the transit first predicted? Observed?

RS: Kepler in 1630 predicted that there would be a Venus transit in 1631, but it could not be seen from Europe. In 1639, the brilliant English amateur Jeremiah Horrocks predicted – just weeks before the event – and then observed the first transit on 24 November (old style). He and his fellow amateur William Crabtree were the only observers of the 1639 transit.

MC: Why were the attempts to see the transit heroic?

RS: To achieve the scientific aims, a transit had to be observed over a wide range of latitude, so teams were sent to remote locations. The heroism in the eighteenth, and to a lesser extent nineteenth, century lay in getting there. Many expedition members suffered hardship, and a not insignificant number lost their lives.

MC: Scientifically, why was the transit important?

RS: For two centuries it was seen as the best method for determining the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is technically called the astronomical unit. It is the fundamental unit of distance in astronomy, our measure of scale from the nearest stars to the furthest galaxies.

MC: When will the next transit occur? 

RS: 105 years and 6 days after my talk, on 11 December 2117. If it’s cloudy where you are, no fear. There’ll be a repeat in December 2125.

Correction: An earlier version of this post credited the answers to Professor Richard de Grijs.

Become a Friend of the Festival


8-22 MARCH 2013


Every March, The Bookworm is transformed into a hub of literary, intellectual and creative activity as we celebrate all things books with The Bookworm International Literary Festival.

BLF is an independently funded festival, dedicated to bringing you the best writers and thinkers. Starting with a small team passionate about literature, BLF has grown to become one of the world’s most prestigious literary festivals. This year, through our expertise and ever expanding connections, we will bring more authors, thinkers and intellectuals to events throughout China, as well as provide an even greater platform to showcase Chinese authors to the world.

We believe in the power of literature. A good book makes us think, challenges us, and changes the way we see ourselves and the world. We’ve created BLF to be a forum for literature, thought and debate – what we believe to be fundamentals of a progressive society. Literature is an ongoing, live, global discussion and BLF is proud to be part of that discussion.


Our festival simply would not be possible without the invaluable support of our sponsors and friends of the festival. From international flights to marketing materials, the festival relies on the support of many. Your donations – large or small – are what keep us going and help us bring you a world-class festival.


By becoming a Friend of the Festival, you will be able to enjoy the following benefits:

• Name listed in the program and on our website

• Early-bird tickets: the ticket office opens to Friends of the Festival before opening to the public

• Access to “Friends of the Festival”-only events with special VIP guests

• An invitation to a special evening for Friends of the Festival, sponsors and authors

Friends of the Festival Levels




For more information, or to sign up for an annual subscription, please email [email protected]

The Bookworm International Literary Festival 2013 Design Competition

Who We Are

The Bookworm International Literary Festival is a unique celebration of literature and ideas in China, programming 100 events across six cities, connecting over 70 Chinese and international writers and thinkers. Each year, the “look” of the festival reaches close to 100,000 people. If your design is chosen, your logo (or name) will be feature on all printed festival materials, on site pieces, our website, newsletter, blog and other marketing materials. The festival offers great exposure to designers looking to break into the arts and culture field of the China market.

BLF is a literary festival but it is also so much more – booktalks with some of the world’s leading literary lights, interviews with young Chinese writers, music performances, poetry slams in nightclubs, film screenings, writing workshops, comedy events, one-act plays,  live literature events, a children’s program full of interactive workshops and talks, and much more ! We are a truly international festival with authors from over 20 countries participating in our events. The image of the 2012 festival should demonstrate all the myriad aspects of the festival as well as be fresh, clean, modern, dynamic, and fun!

What We Are Looking For

Each year, a different designer has created the central branded image of the festival. This design is then used on the festival program and used in different iterations on tote bags, posters, tickets, advertisements and online. As a guideline, our branded colors are white, black and magenta.

The winner of the design competition will be highlighted on our website, blog, newsletter and on all printed materials where the design is used.

Attached please find our logo and images of previous festival branding.

Please submit a JPG/PDF of your design by November 30, 2012. All designs should be translatable to a variety of media – printed booklets, websites, t-shirts, bags, etc.


The Bookworm Download Map

Building 4, Nan Sanlitun Road,

Chaoyang District, Beijing

100027, P.R China

Tel: (010) 6586 9507

Email: [email protected]