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China Chinese prisons Hong Kong

Knock Knock

Surveillance is an ancient Chinese art. To monitor the enemy, Sun Tzu (544-496 B.C.) advocated the use of spies: local, inward, converted, doomed and surviving. The emperor should deploy all five kinds in times of war and in peace. Last week, Hong Kong arrested 53 activists for allegedly subverting state power. The police needed no […]

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Chinese language Shanghai

The Street Where You Live

Now that the dust has settled from our trip around the world, it’s time to revisit my novel-in-progress, Peace Court. To be honest, I’m a little scared to venture down that street. What if my trip has caused a reality shift due to time or distance or both? What if I have to rewrite the […]

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China Hong Kong

The Black Hands

Hong Kong is entering its 9th consecutive week of protests against Carrie Lam. She is the Beijing figurehead appointed to govern Hong Kong. Her proposed extradition law sparked the protests. It would have allowed criminal suspects arrested on Hong Kong soil to be sent to China for prosecution. Hong Kongers believe — and rightly so […]

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Censorship China

Uncle Xi Wants You!

In the 1780s, Samuel Bentham got a job supervising workers on a Russian estate. To keep his eye on all of them, he made them sit in a circle with himself in the center. His brother, Jeremy, stole that idea and called it a panopticon. a central tower surrounded by cells. In the central tower […]

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Craft Laogai The Shanghai Quartet

Chain Reaction

The Shanghai Quartet is going to be my magnum opus: four interlocking novels spanning a quarter century of Chinese history. Volume one was my my debut novel, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. I’ve just finished the manuscript for volume two, Peace Court. While I await feedback from my beta readers, my mind wanders to […]

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Craft Creative writing workshops The Shanghai Quartet

Rewriting History

Last month, I gave a master class on novel writing at the International Writers’ Collective. Because my debut novel is set in Shanghai 1937, we spent a little time talking about the historical research that went into The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. Out of fear of disappearing into the research rabbit hole, I decided […]

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Censorship Chinese prisons

Prisoner #42816

Prisoner #42816 spent 23 months in a Chinese jail, first in the Shanghai Detention Center and later in Qingpu Prison. The charge was “illegally acquiring personal information” of Chinese nationals, a claim he vehemently denies to this day. Prisoner #42816 is Briton Peter Humphrey. Last month, he published his first account of My life inside […]

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Craft poetry Revolution The Shanghai Quartet

Laogai

Laogai will be the third volume of The Shanghai Quartet and its star will be Song Kang. We first see Kang in The Dancing Girl and the Turtle as the returned student, the prodigal son, called back from America to care for his ailing sister Anyi. Eighteen years later, we meet him again. He’s in […]

Categories
Revolution The Shanghai Quartet

Peace Court

Peace Court is the novel I’m working on now. I’m hoping this will be the next volume to appear in The Shanghai Quartet. If you’ve read The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, you may find it hard to believe that my next novel is a comedy. It’s not as if I have no sense of […]

Categories
Books Politics Revolution War

The Art of War

Sun Tzu is the name given to the author of the military treatise The Art of War. No one knows when the book was written or whether Sun Tzu is its true author. The name in the book is Sun Wu. He was a general and military advisor active during the Spring and Autumn period […]