Happy New Year everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed the last few weeks journey through Christmas and into the brand new year of 2014. Such a short few days with so much excitement factored in. Hope your transition was a peaceful one. Catching up with my family was the focus for me. It was very special. And then there was the excitement of seeing ‘Grandma’ in Smith and Caugheys Christmas windows! See here.
For my first blog of the year I am very happy to tell you that Jane Carswell’s book Under the Huang Jiao Tree: Two Journeys in China, (Transit Lounge Publishing Melbourne, 2009) is to be rebroadcast on Radio NZ National. The first five chapters will be read this week, starting on Monday 20th January at 2.30pm. I am so looking forward to listening. Not only is Jane an excellent friend but I am also a fan of her work. I find it quite fascinating that this book not only won the Whitcoull’s Travel Book of the year 2010, but also was placed third in the Ashton Wylie Award, for a book in the mind, body, spirit (‘new age’) genre. Two quite different genres one might think. Actually to quote from Jane’s website… three! Memoir, travel and spritiuality.
Here’s how the publishers described the book.
‘In mid-life Jane Carswell leaves her seemingly tranquil New Zealand home, her family and friends, to teach English in Chongqing, China. Her journey into the unknown epitomises the ache so many of us feel in our own lives for new challenges and personal understandings. Under the Huang Jiao Tree is a reflective, amusing and absorbing book about living and working in China, and the profound impact the experience has on the author’s search for connection and community. Carswell writes beautifully and entertainingly of China, of its people and her surprises and setbacks, but where her memoir stands alone is in its description of her own search for a spiritual life and practice. On return to her New Zealand life she becomes drawn to the teachings of St Benedict, and all at once the reader realises where the purity of her writing springs from: a deep well of calm, silence and belief.’
Transit Lounge Publishing, Melbourne
Jane’s writing is beautiful. Add to that, her openness and considered approach to her topic plus her humour and attention to detail and you have a rare book. For some excellent reviews including one each from the Melbourne Age and the Dominion Post NZ see Jane’s website here
Here’s what Mary McAllum our Tuesday Poems Editor had to say about it. Under the Huang Jiao Tree, begins with a quote: ‘There is a meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveller’ by Deitrich Bonhoeffer, and it is this mystery in the book – Jane’s not knowing entirely what the journey’s about – along with the meshed journeys into both China and Jane herself, and the subtle, evocative way she writes, that makes this book so powerful. Nay, more than that – unforgettable.’ For details about how to buy the book go to Jane’s website here, or ask at any good bookshop.
Bye for now. I’ll be back with more poetry in a week or two.