I went on Swedish radio to talk about Xinjiang and other small questions like the future of China. Listen here
Thanks to Creative Scotland for awarding me a grant to work on my next novel, which if you squint at, or close one eye, you could call a love story.
There’s a review of The False River in The Herald newspaper today.
‘The False River
The Willesden Herald Short Story Prize might not sound glitzy, but it allows Nick Holdstock’s story “Ward” (in which a teenage girl’s cancer diagnosis changes the course of her life) to be described as award-winning, which feels deserved. And judging by the quality of these stories, it won’t be his last accolade. Short story collections are often front-loaded with the best work, but The False River actually becomes more compelling as it goes along. His ease with dark and transgressive themes (animal-lovers should skip past “The Ballad of Poor Lucy Miller”) brings to mind a young Ian McEwan, but Holdstock is a multi-faceted writer who often seems to be urging his stories to break free of the frames surrounding them and even alters one character mid-story because he doesn’t like the direction it’s going. But mostly this accomplished collection is driven by a burning curiosity about the psychological states of its characters, and it should put him firmly on the literary map.
The start of ‘And Then’, a story from The False River, appears in today’s Scotsman newspaper.
The False River is out now.
With thanks to the publications in which some of this work first appeared – especially the Manchester Review, the Southern Review, and the Willesden Herald. I’m also grateful to editors like Emily Nemens (formerly of the Southern Review, now Paris Review Fiction Editor), Tom Vowler, and especially the late Jeanne Leiby, who was my first editor at the Southern Review, and offered me encouragement at a crucial time.
Thanks to Dan Eady for a long review (and a fair summary) of the new edition of China’s Forgotten People.
The first edition had a very different reception in SCMP – that reviewer lamented that ‘the book does little to bring to life the exotic and enchanting characteristics of Xinjiang’. Though that was by a different reviewer, the difference in tone seems indicative of a shift in the global perception of Xinjiang, and perhaps also of the very different situation in Hong Kong now compared to that in 2015.