For the fifth anniversary of The Book Stop, I wanted to follow up with some of the authors who asked me to review their books. The authors I chose wrote books that really stood out — not only for the quality of the writing, but because there was something unique about the story told.
The three authors profiled in this post took me to other countries and other cultures: Poland, Vietnam, and China. All three have important political and historical themes but also tell moving and powerful stories. I hope you’ll check out these books.
In January 2013, I reviewed C.H. Zhu’s Descent, a book about a gay man’s upbringing in China and his struggle to accept himself. Here’s what he’s been working on since then:
I have been living in Taiwan for the past year and working on a new novel in Chinese. It portrays the change of life in the 90s in Shanghai from multiple points of view. Since Descent was first published on Kindle, I have revised the last five chapters and redesigned the book cover, then relaunched it in the spring of 2014. It has received encouraging feedback from readers, friends, and fellow writers. Last year, an American professor held a discussion about this book with a group of college students in Beijing. I felt both validated and saddened to hear that the students found the ending much true to life – that many gay men in China still choose to marry a female under family and social pressure. But, ultimately, this book is not just about sexual identity. I hope that more people will find courage to be who they are and to defy social prejudice after reading this novel.
In June 2013, I reviewed Michelle Granas’ Zaremba, or Love and the Rule of Law, a book about love and government corruption in modern day Poland. Here’s what she’s been up to since then:
You reviewed Zaremba, or Love and the Rule of Law in 2013. My next novel, Swans Are Fat Too, came out the following year. It is the story of a young, overweight pianist who, after the breakdown of her career, travels to Warsaw and finds herself unexpectedly babysitting two awful cousins and involved in a history project with the prince from upstairs. Both these novels have been consistently on various Amazon bestseller lists over the past twelve months. Amadea: One Spring in France, which has just appeared, is set in a village in the Pyrenean foothills. It has a diverse cast of characters—a scholarly alcoholic, a thug, a lawyer, and a timid young woman—and is about the influence for good that even unlikely persons can have on others.
It’s been eighteen months since a review for The Collection of Heng Souk first appeared in The Book Stop. For years I had recycled the same stories, using agents’ rejection letters as a spur to rewrite and re-submit. Uploading onto Amazon gave me the feedback I needed. But, more importantly, it also gave me an opportunity to move onto fresh stories. Although I have had to rewrite Heng Souk, as the original was written with the main body of the text in UK English, and the journal in US English. This attracted some criticism for the spelling and grammar. So, with 99% of sales being in the US, it is now entirely in US English. In the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing a teen fantasy story, The Time Key. Later in the year, will follow the quirky, probably much too English-centric, ‘was played by Walter Johns’. I’m also working on The Good Father, which is more in the style of Heng Souk, and therefore hopefully receive wider interest. It should be finished late next year.
I hope you’ll check out the works of these three talented writers! Next month, Part 2!