THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS
by Kiran Desai
*Winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction 2006
This stunning second novel from Desai (Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard) is set in mid-1980s India, on the cusp of the Nepalese movement for an independent state. Jemubhai Popatlal, a retired Cambridge-educated judge, lives in Kalimpong, at the foot of the Himalayas, with his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and his cook. The makeshift family’s neighbors include a coterie of Anglophiles who might be savvy readers of V.S. Naipaul but who are, perhaps, less aware of how fragile their own social standing is—at least until a surge of unrest disturbs the region. Jemubhai, with his hunting rifles and English biscuits, becomes an obvious target. Besides threatening their very lives, the revolution also stymies the fledgling romance between 16-year-old Sai and her Nepalese tutor, Gyan. The cook’s son, Biju, meanwhile, lives miserably as an illegal alien in New York. All of these characters struggle with their cultural identity and the forces of modernization while trying to maintain their emotional connection to one another. In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a “better life,” when one person’s wealth means another’s poverty.
THE BANQUET BUG
by Yan Geling
Yan, whose short fiction was the basis for the movie Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl, offers a pointed critique of capitalism’s rise in her native China. A multifaceted mistaken-identity farce, Yan’s novel chronicles the adventures of Dan Dong, a laid-off factory worker who wanders into a lavish banquet where journalists are wined and dined and receive “money for your troubles” fees for listening to—and hopefully reporting on—the presentations of corporations and charities. Dan quickly orders business cards that “said he was a reporter from some Internet news site,” and hops aboard the banquet gravy train. Yan revels in the absurdity of her premise, and her over-the-top descriptions of banquet fare underscore her outrage at the few who gorge themselves on “animals from remote mountains and forests” while millions starve. The story changes gears, though, when Dan’s reportage leads him into a dangerous, far-reaching scandal and he is arrested during a crackdown on “banquet bugs.” Yan’s concept is clever, but wooden dialogue and some awkward descriptions make it clear that English is not her mother tongue, though this also leads to some seductively nuanced moments (“He smells rather than hears her words carried on her smoky breath”) that hint at her enormous potential.
by Irene Nemirovsky
Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping “suite,” collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death. The first, “Storm in June,” chronicles the connecting lives of a disparate clutch of Parisians, among them a snobbish author, a venal banker, a noble priest shepherding churlish orphans, a foppish aesthete and a loving lower-class couple, all fleeing city comforts for the chaotic countryside, mere hours ahead of the advancing Germans. The second, “Dolce,” set in 1941 in a farming village under German occupation, tells how peasant farmers, their pretty daughters and petit bourgeois collaborationists coexisted with their Nazi rulers. In a workbook entry penned just weeks before her arrest, Némirovsky noted that her goal was to describe “daily life, the emotional life and especially the comedy it provides.” This heroic work does just that, by focusing—with compassion and clarity—on individual human dramas.
by Paulo Coelho
Translated into 61 languages, and sold to more than 30 million people worldwide, The Alchemist is a classic of the modern age. A simple, wise and enchanting fable, The Alchemist has inspired readers the world over to listen to their hearts and follow their dreams. In the story we follow the quest of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd, as he journeys to North Africa in the search for missing treasure and spiritual fulfillment
“It is the simplest things in life that are the most extraordinary: only wise men are able to understand them,” a fortuneteller explains to Santiago at the beginning of his quest: the philosophy seems to have worked for Paul Coelho himself, now practically presiding over a literary genre all of his own.
A must-read for travelers, soul-searchers, dreamers, and philosophical alchemists.
THE MASTER AND MARGARITA
by Mikhail Bulgakov
When the devil sweeps into Moscow wearing a fancy suit and accompanied by a gun-toting, human sized tomcat, it’s hardly surprising that havoc is set to ensue. A thorough rampaging through the city follows, involving death, destruction and debauchery, despite the devil’s protestations that his intentions are entirely admirable.
A twentieth century Russian classic, The Master and Margarita is bizarre, surreal and wonderful. Suppressed by the Stalinist authorities during Bulgakov’s lifetime, the novel is both a hilarious romp, and a sharp satire on the cultural and political climate in Soviet Moscow. Fans of the Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez will delight in this masterpiece of the imagination, although make no mistake ? The Master and Margarita is very definitely one of a kind.
THE KITE RUNNER
by Khaled Hosseini
Interest in The Kite Runner has refused to die down in the three years since its publication. A haunting and beautiful novel, at its heart is the biggest and most unresolved of conflicts ? the desire of men to rule one another, whether domestically or on the stage of world events.
Amir and Hassan are best of friends, and spend their days playing in the grounds of Amir’s beautiful home in Kabul. But the boys are also slave and master, a relationship that becomes increasingly complex and difficult to sustain as the boys grow and the affairs of their native Afghanistan begin to effect on their lives in ever more pressing and dangerous ways. A terrible event tests the strength of the friendship between Amir and Hassan, but before the boys are able to recover, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan whisks Amir off to America to pastures new and to the unsettled life of an émigré. When he finally returns, the country is barely recognizable, and Amir struggles to dig the remains of his childhood, and his dignity from the rubble of the shattered city. The Kite Runner is beautifully written, raw and evocative, and not to be missed.
LORD OF THE FLIES
by William Golding
When a plane crashes on a deserted island, with the only survivors a pack of adolescent schoolboys, what follows is at first a riotous testing of the limits of their new found freedom. However, soon their exuberance gives way to something much darker, as fear begins to seep in, and as rescue seems a more and more distant hope, the fragile society the boys have created plunges into chaos.
The ultimate novel of dystopia, Lord of the Flies ticks as many boxes as it defies attempts to classify it. At once a thriller, an adventure story, an allegory, and a political treatise, the novel is disturbing, unpredictable, and terrifying in it’s exposure of the basest of human instincts. A true classic, this edition of Lord of the Flies contains a new introduction from E.M Forster.
by John Banville
So you think your vocabulary is extensive? Put your money where your mouth is with John Banville’s ridiculously lavish 2005 Booker Prize winner ‘The Sea’.
Set in a bleak, old fashioned seaside town on the West coast of Ireland, the novel flits between the distant childhood past and the alcohol soaked adulthood present of art historian Max Morden, as he attempts to reconcile the death of his wife and come to terms with a childhood trauma that irrevocably altered his future.
A joyous romp the novel is not, but as a work of art it can hardly be faulted. Elegant, disturbing and absolutely remarkable in it’s realization of character, place and pure, difficult, raw humanity, The Sea is a novel that will haunt both new readers and Banville fans alike.
Austin M. Kramer
MY NAME IS RED
by Orhan Pamuk
Unlike many of his characters, Orhan Pamuk has never lived beyond the city where he was born, but in a city like Istanbul there are already hundreds of lifetimes of stories yet to be told. Still, at the bridge between Europe and Asia it can seem that almost much of the far away worlds has already passed through these famous narrows, and traces still lay collecting in the cities Byzantine alleyways. My Name Is Red is a ruminating mystery haunted by love, art, religion, and politics. It is infused with cultures, legends, history and philosophy that all drift through the narrative like wisps of smoke. The tense interplay between ancient traditions and human passions is brilliantly illustrated through intersecting stories of painting, romance, faith, and murder. Slowly, piece by piece, a variety of highly subjective first-person narrators build the story out of beguiling dialogue and enchanting tangents. Fascinatingly, the fragments all begin to fold in upon each other, gradually fusing into a single dramatic conclusion. Desolate winter in the ancient city profuse with rich textures and disparate voices comes to life with the passion, melancholy and elegant, evocative complexity of an Arabesque illumination or Byzantine mosaic.
Austin M. Kramer
EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Although a spare four years has passed since the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001, ream upon ream has been written on the events and their consequences. Much, if not all of it makes no lasting contribution to the literary cannon. Perhaps the definitive book of these times has yet to be written, but among those that have been, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close stands out as a light of style and compassion. It is not an over-wrought elegy, nor a cynical political manipulation, but in rejecting these neither does it cheapen the tragedy simply because it has become a symbol. Al Queda, various governments, protesters, and indeed much of the world has fixated on the attacks as a symbol, or a catalyst, some kind of means, but Jonathan Safran Foer reminds us that the deaths of thousands can also be a very potent and devastating ends in and of itself. The book follows a sensitive prodigy, 9 years old and manically absorbed in a plethora of intellectual pursuits, as he embarks on the surreal, mystical and quixotic quest to find the lock that fits a key his father had left for him after he died in the towers. It provides a rich landscape of grief – lives now defined by the contrast of death – and shows the world in an ironic new light, reevaluating everything with a new point of view unavoidably affected by tragedy.
Austin M. Kramer
by Sandor Marai
As traditions scatter on the winds of change and nations shift beneath our feet, the quintessential crisis of modernity is one of definition. Modernity, however, is not a single moment in time so much as every moment in time. In this way, Sandor Marai’s lost novels from the first part of the 20th Century are prescient today as they were then. With the glittering age of the Austro-Hungarian Empire long past, two old men meet for a single, vital, and final survey of their lives, filled with love and friendship, but also loss and betrayal. Embers is a slim novel, a single claustrophobic dialogue in an isolated forest estate, but it ranges all across the world and the human experience over the course of a single night. Marai is a master of prose on par with or exceeding his peers Kafka, Hesse, and Mann. His style is brisk, fresh, and dazzlingly vivid. His mastery of the unsaid infuses the book with a sense of mystery and dark drama. With clarity and emotional force, Embers transcends its own generation and cuts to the core of what is modern life.
Austin M. Kramer
AN ANTHROPOLOGIST ON MARS
by Oliver Sacks
Philosophers for years have speculated over the role of perception, memory and the mind in determining the substance of our reality, often with no conclusive results. Sheepishly they must realize, upon reading the works of Oliver Sacks, that perhaps they should have conducted more field research! In what is his best-developed collection of case studies to date, Dr. Sacks reveals a metaphysical laboratory through the practice of neurology. In recounting his experiences with artists, teachers, surgeons and Hare Krisnas, all somehow different from the clinical norm, he is neither obscurely technical nor needlessly simplistic. He does not romanticize the challenges in these people’s lives, but his focus is clearly not on the pathos, but on the ethos. With tender subtlety we are led, not lectured, down the path of diagnosis, understanding, and ultimately to questions at the very foundations of the human experience as we know it. With a light touch, humor, and no small amount of empathy, Dr. Sacks brings some much needed humanity to the often cold and technical field of neuropsychology.
MR CHINA: A MEMOIR
by Tim Clissold
the early 1990s China finally opened for business,
and Wall Street wanted to get in on the act. When
the investment bankers arrived from New York with
their Harvard MBAs, pinstripes and tassled loafers,
ready to negotiate with the Old Cadres, the stage
was set for a collision between Wall Street’s billions
and the world’s oldest culture. This is the true
story of a tough Wall Street banker who had reached
the top and found that it wasn’t enough. Looking
for glory, he came to China to surf the next new
investment wave and teamed up with an ex-Red Guard
and an Englishman living in Beijing. Together, they
raised over $400 million and bought up factories
all over China. They thought the contracts were
watertight. But then they began learning the hard
way that China doesn’t play by anyone else’s rules.
Left sitting in their boardrooms while their Chinese
partners marched off in their own different directions,
they watched their millions begin sliding towards
the abyss. Faced with no option but to fight, they
embarked on a series of desperate battles to regain
control of their businesses. Their struggle reveals
the human face of this vast and complex country
that knows it must modernise but throughout history
has always kept the advantage when dealing with
outsiders. Clissold tells his at times surreal story
with amusement and affection, and the result is
exhilarating, an eye-opening account of the arcane
world of traditional Chinese business and an instructive
insight into the limitations of Wall Street and
western business-school training. He opens a window
of understanding between East and West in a truly
exciting human-interest story that is a mix of adventure,
farce and high finance.
AN END TO SUFFERING
by Pankaj Mishra
An End to Suffering is a search to understand the Buddha’s relevance in today’s world, where religious violence, poverty, and terrorism prevail. Traveling extensively through the West as well at the East, Pankaj Mishra explores the myths and places of the Buddha’s life, examines the West’s "discovery" of Buddhism, and considers the impact of Buddhist ideas on modern politics. The result is the most ambitious,convincing book on the Buddha that we have.
ONE BILLION CUSTOMERS
With 1.3 billion mouths to feed, China’s consumer market is larger than North America and Western Europe combined. Foreign companies are flocking there to both buy and sell. Now, the first book to present a coherent picture of China’s emergence as a global economic power, One Billion Customers maximizes the expansive knowledge of a respected journalist, well-known advisor, and the ultimate China business insider.
A Communist dictatorship determined to practices its own form of capitalism, China has long perplexed foreign investors, who find Chinese business practices opaque and contradictory. This definitive text navigates the treacherous waters of Chinese business, offering compelling narratives of personalities, business deals, and lessons learned-from Morgan Stanley’s creation of a joint-venture Chinese investment bank to the pleasure dome of a smuggler whose $6 billion operation demonstrates how corruption greases the wheels of Chinese commerce.
With more than one hundred strategies for conducting business in China, this unprecedented account pairs practical lessons with the story of China’s remarkable rise to power.
THE BOOKWORM eLONG KIDS TRAVEL WRITING COMPETITION 2006!!
Thanks to everyone who entered this year’s competition. It was certainly a tricky job for our judges, but the winners have been announced…
Look out for their work in ‘The Rough Guide to the Coolest Places for Young Travellers’ to be published later this year! Read on for the winning entries in each age category.
Winning entry 12-13 years old:
Look attentively; the trees have bottle green and chocolate brown leaves, the cloudless sky so blue, and the soil so red. The uneven dirt road bumps the car this way and that, while the dazzling sun shines through the glass of the car window. See the snake on the side of the road, coiled under a tree, as dark as an endless pit. Wind down the window; a smell so wonderful comes wafting through it, it smells like fresh dew on the lime green grass, like the sapphire blue sea. Listen carefully; hear the sea rolling on to the sandy shore, the birds twittering and laughing in the trees, the soft breeze rustling the fading leaves.
The car winds this way and that along the twisting road. It begins to leisurely slow down, you hear the crunching of the dried leaves on the ground, as tyres gradually roll over them. The car wheels stop spinning, and you stop. You can see a clearing the size of a large fig tree. It has magnificent trees surrounding it; the ground is a mixture of brown and red earth. It’s perfect.
Getting out the car and looking around, you realize that something is not there. Something is missing, but it’s sometimes nice for that something not to be there. People. All around you, everywhere near, is empty. A silence wraps around you, making you shiver. The only other people who are there are those who came in the car.
Thud! The tent comes crashing to the ground when Dad throws it off the 4×4. He stands on top of the car, passing things down, unloading. Deciding to help, you take the tent out of its bag, putting the pegs to the side. Everyone comes to help. Your mother, father and brother all are working together to put up your home, your shelter, the protection that you’ll all sleep under.
Stand back. Take a look. Your tent stands tall, sloping downwards. The khaki colour stands out clearly as the sun shines behind it. Walk towards it; breathe in the smell of the tent, that special scent which can only come from a tent. Unzip the zip. Can you hear the sound that comes only from a tent zip? It’s thrilling.
Walk down toward the beach. Feel the fishing box in your right hand, weighing you down with its hooks, sinkers, knives and bait. In your left hand feel the fishing rod that will catch your dinner. Take off your shoes, sink you feet into the sand, squish it between your toes. Walk up the small cliff; see the rough waves below you. The wind blows your hair back, knotting it in the wind.
Tie the hook and float onto the line. Cast it into the sea. Watch it bob up and down in the sea, until it goes under, pulled down by a fish. Feel the sensation as you reel it in.
It’s magical. It’s where we all belong.
Winning entry 14 years and up:
KEVIN LIU "Sao Paulo: The Real Thing"
Sau Paulo: The Real Thing
Waking up on a Wednesday morning in the heart of Sao Paulo is like no other. A city where neither crime nor fun needs a time and place. For a retired man such as my grandfather Wednesday is ‘Feira’ (market day), where locals rush early in the morning to buy tropical fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price. With a million and one sweets and little delicacies to choose from one can eat their breakfast here for a couple of dollars. My grandfather picks a ‘pastel’, a traditional fried pastry crammed with everything from palm heart to mozzarella cheese and shrimps. But a meal is not a meal without a drink is it? Unfortunately for my grandfather he has diabetes and cannot drink ‘caldo de cana’, juice freshly squeezed from sugar canes, occasionally mixed with lemons or pineapples. Instead he orders a tiny espresso whose smell lures all around, but whose bitter taste disgusts those who are used to a bland Starbucks with more sugar than coffee. Soon after eating my grandfather pulls his little cart along street after street of hopeful vendors selling everything from rare fruits to live fish fit for a meal of five. The morning ends with the sound of noon from the grumbling stomach of my dear old grandfather.
Taking the bus home is a complete adventure all on its own for a first time visitor. The miserable heat inside the unair-conditioned bus makes the shirt stick to one’s back. The smell of car exhaust from one of the most polluted cities in the world fills everyone’s lungs as if they smoked. The sight of graffiti covering the walls of every building without an armed guard brings out the sad reality of a city ruled by gangs. Barbed wire and electric fences encircle every building capable of affording such a luxury. But inside the bus itself all sorts of ordinary people can be seen: a spotless white dentist smelling of antiseptic, a mother clinging to her child like an oyster with its pearl, and even the occasional musician playing for tips.
Once off the bus the first thing my grandfather does is check that he hasn’t been pick- pocketed by someone. As soon as he’s checked, he’s back to pulling his cart along the weatherworn pavement with more holes than level ground. A I walk down the busy streets of downtown Sao Paulo with my grandfather, we are soon lost amongst the 17 million citizens who make this city what it is today.
ON SATURDAY 21ST APRIL WE HELD OUR FIRST NGO AND CHARITY NETWORKING DAY AT THE BOOKWORM
THESE ARE THE ORGANISATIONS WHICH TOOK PART
HAU DAN – Theatre for Migrant Women
Chi Heng Foundation
Tel/Fax: +8610 5820 8559
Mobile: +86 136 8334 1471
Tel: +8610 8206 6558
Mobile +86 135 2245 8907
Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Centre
Xi Lou Hutong, Yonghegong Dajie, Dongcheng, Beijing
Tel：(86-10) 6403 4932
Fax：(86-10) 6403 6632
International Bridges to Justice
Room 2101, Changyuan Tiandi Building B
18 Suzhou Street
Beijing 100080 China
Tel: 86 (0) 10 8260 8305
Fax: 86 (0) 10 8260 8386
Mobile: 86 13401078064
Floor 19,Unit 2,Block E,
Lanchou Famous Building,Jiqingli,
Chaowai Street,Chaoyang District,
Beijing China 100020, China.
Phone: (86) 10 6554 6931*189
Mobile: (86) 1391 0637242
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Regional Delegation for East Asia
4-1-133, Jianguo Men Wai Diplomatic Compound
e-mail: [email protected]
tel: +86 10 6532 7162/ ext 18
fax: +86 10 6532 7166
mobile. +86 13911710635
PO Box 002
Langfang Development Zone
Langfang, Hebei 065001
+86 139 1030 7350
Roots and Shoots
Executive Director, the Jane Goodall Institute China
Beijing City International School (BCIS) Room 1309
No. 77 Baiziwan Nan Er Road, Chaoyang District
Email: [email protected]
Li Yan 李艳 (Ellen Li)
China Unit Oxfam Hong Kong
Magic Hospital China c/o SmallSteps ( China ) Ltd.
16 Gongti Bei Lu
1402 Xingfu Yuan Gongyu, Chaoyang District
Beijing 100027 China
Contact: Magda The
Dr. Eva Sternfeld
China Environment and Sustainable Development
Reference and Research Center
China-Japan Friendship Environmental Protection Center
#1 Yu Hui Nanlu
100029 Beijing, China
Children’s Hope International
New Day Foster Home
CHINA SHAKES THE WORLD by James Kynge
Winner of the Financial Times Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2006
A former bureau chief of the Financial Times in Beijing, Kynge demonstrates how China’s thirst for jobs, raw materials, energy, and new markets–and its export of goods, workers, and investments–will dramatically reshape world trade and politics. China’s appetite, though unpremeditated and inarticulate, has become a source of major change in the world. Napoleon said, “Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” In the early days of the twenty-first century, China has started shaking the world with its prowess in manufacturing. Not all is rosy, however, because China has serious problems with its environmental resources, severe pollution, and institutionalized corruption within the government, the legal system, the police force, and the media. The question Kynge offers answers to is how the world will cope with China’s extremes of both strength and weakness.