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Jing Tsu Longlist Author Interview

26 September 2022

How does it feel to be longlisted? 

It's a tremendous honor to share this list with other writers I so highly esteem, and to have the book recognized at a time when mutual understanding between China and the outside world has never been more relevant or urgent.

How did you conduct your research?

The research for this book took me to several continents and about a dozen countries.  Archives can be a treasure trove of surprises as well as dead ends, though, so I was sent back to the drawing board on more than a few occasions.  Along the way, unexpected and remarkable people in real life also offered pointers that propelled things forward--much like the human characters in the book.

How key has China’s ability to adapt to an increasingly modernized world whilst retaining its own culture been to its current economic success? 

Adaptation and preservation have been the twin pillars of modern China's approach to the outside world.  The Chinese script revolution is a story about how the two imperatives, contradictory at times, were harnessed in China's path to reach the present.  

There’s been a growing Western interest in East Asian culture, from manga to in Japan to the increasing popularity of Korean cinema and TV. What do you think has caused that?

The 21st century has been aptly called the Asia century--where we expect to see the greatest economic growth and potential for social change.  Well over half of the world's population live in that part of the world, covering more than 2,300 languages, as opposed to the official 24 of Europe.  There is no doubt much to learn about Asia as a whole and in its complexity--not just China, Korea, and Japan but also South and Southeast Asia.

What are you working on next? 

A book about the future.