by Graham Thompson, Website Editor, 9 May 2013
Two SCA authors have recently published new books – the novel A Single Petal, by Oliver Eade, and The Scots and China, 1750-2000 : Issues, Ideas and Identities, by Ian Wotherspoon. We provide brief details below, and hope to publish reviews of both books soon on this website and/or in Sine.
A Single Petal, by Oliver Eade
This novel is the tale of teacher Feng, a humble widower, who lives quietly with his beloved daughter, Feier, in rural Tang Dynasty China (AD618-907). But things change when his merchant friend is found murdered and local Miao girls begin to disappear. The authorities seem strangely uncaring, so Feng sets off on a dangerous journey of discovery, little suspecting he’s involving himself with forces that even threaten the emperor.
This book is described by the publishers as “murder, politics and passionate love in ancient China”, and won the Local Legend National Competition for Spiritual Writing. As the publisher says, it is “a true page-turner with a strong story that builds up to a terrifying and tragic climax”, adding this beautifully written novel also pays minute attention to historical detail - the reader will be left asking deep and important questions”.
Raymond Hume of The Writer has said, “There’s an abundance of beauty in this book… a fictitious account of lives in Tang Dynasty China, but also a moral tale of much wider applicability to other times and places… The clear, direct style of the narrative is a joy to read”.
Oliver Eade is a children’s writer and retired Scottish Borders doctor. His wife being Chinese, with family spread across China, he has traveled extensively in her motherland. His earlier children’s books, Moon Rabbit and Monkey King’s Revenge, link Scotland with mythological China and introduce western children to East Asian culture and legends. Oliver's own website has more information about his life and is books and can be found is here.
A Single Petal is published by Local Legend, at £8.00 paperback and £5.99 as an Kindle edition (ISBN 978-1-907203-42-8). The paperback is on Amazon here, and the Kindle edition is here. It may also soon be found in some local bookshops in Scotland.
Oliver will also be appearing at Glasgow's West End Festival to talk about the sources of his inspiration and of how his extensive travels across China have shaped his writing. The event is at 6.30pm, Thursday 20 June, Hillhead Library, Glasgow. For more details, see here.
The Scots and China, 1750-2000 : Issues, Ideas and Identities by Ian Wotherspoon
A long-standing SCA member, and with several articles previously published in Sine, Dr Ian Wotherspoon is well qualified to examine the history of the relationship between Scotland and China. As he explains :
“Why people from Scotland, one of the smallest countries in Europe, came to have such an influence on one of the world’s largest nations, China, is the focus of this pioneering study. As Scotland rapidly industrialised in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Scots sought fame and fortune throughout the British Empire – and beyond. China was no exception.
“Scots came to China to trade in tea, opium, silks and spices and tried to prise open the doors of the Celestial Empire to foreign influence. With them came strange new ideas about politics and religion which, often as not, ran contrary to traditional beliefs. They became involved in the public administration of China, not just in Hong Kong, but through a variety of now forgotten Chinese institutions like the Chinese Maritime Customs. Scottish interests also covered the scientific exploration of China’s environment, flora and fauna, plus seriously determined efforts to harvest souls for Christ in a largely Confucian culture.
“Scots tried to influence enquiring Chinese minds along western lines. The first Chinese to graduate in western medicine from any British, indeed European, university was educated in Edinburgh. Mao Zedong’s mentor, and future father-in-law, was educated at Aberdeen University. In time, the path followed by these extraordinary young men was taken by other Chinese who came to live and work in Scotland, forming what is today a vibrant component of Scotland’s non-ethnic community.
“Whether Chinese or Scots, they were a disparate, if eclectic, group. Here were businessmen, opium traders and travellers, saints, students, and scholars. Arrogant, greedy and racist, they could be humble, compassionate, and kind. In a period of unprecedented change, their lives came together as China emerged slowly, and painfully, to confront, not just the demons from its own past, but the real challenges from beyond its borders which threatened the very survival of a Chinese identity and, even, of China itself”.
Ian Wotherspoon spent nearly thirty years in Asia and the Pacific before returning to his native Scotland where he teaches at the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Wotherspoon has written extensively about the Scots abroad and the influence overseas of Scottish education. To mark China’s resumption of sovereignty in Hong Kong in 1997, he co-authored with Sally Blyth the best-selling Hong Kong Remembers which was published by Oxford University Press in 1996, and in translation as Shuo ba, Xianggang in 1999.
The Scots and China, 1750-2000 : Issues, Ideas and Identities is published by CreateSpace, and is available at £5.00 in paperback and £1.02 as an ebook (ISBN 9781481025508). It is available on Amazon here, with a link to the Kindle edition on the same page.