Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The season of death

In her entertaining book, Wild West - Travels in the New Mongolia, Jill Lawless comments that 'In contrast to the season's symbolism is most countries, spring in Mongolia is the season of death, a time for herders to watch the sky and worry'. 

If one doubted her words, the reports of this week's devastating snow storms in the east of the country provide ample demonstration of Mongolia's uniquely arduous climate.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Genghis Khan, democracy and the new 'great game'

The relationship between Mongolia, its immediate neighbours and the West was one theme of The Shadow Walker, and it's a subject I've returned to, in a different guise, in the forthcoming third Nergui book, The Outcast

But those relationships continue to change and develop, bringing new tensions and new opportunities.  Here and here are a couple of interesting perspectives - the latter particularly interesting for its discussion of Genghis Khan's largely-unheralded role as the father of democracy...


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sergei Bodrov's Mongol

Sergei Bodrov's film, Mongol, opens on 6 June in the UK (and, I believe, in the US).  It's been generally well-received, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Movie.  But views within Mongolia itself seem rather less positive...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cover versions

A while ago, I posted a link to the fascinating blog maintained by Richard Tuschman, the artist who has designed the splendid cover for the US edition of The Shadow Walker.  Richard's posting on the subject was fascinating because he described the thinking that had led him to the final design, and also provided examples of some of the alternative designs he'd discarded along the way.  It offered a remarkable insight into the creative process. 

Well, he's now done something very similar in respect of his (equally splendid) cover for The Adversary, which Berkley Prime Crime are publishing in the US next year.  Again, he describes the process as well as providing examples of some discarded earlier versions. 

By coincidence, I was reading in this morning's Guardian about the increasing expansion of Tesco into book retailing in the UK.  Joel Rickett of The Bookseller notes that Tesco is moving well beyond simply stocking the obvious bestsellers, but notes in passing that 'the supermarket is typically unapologetic about its influence on the homogenisation of book cover design - pointing out that shoppers need to instantly recognise genres'.  I'm not sure whether that's true or not, but I hope it doesn't prevent artists such as Richard Tuschman from deploying their very considerable talent. 


‘Disguised’ as chicken

Mongolia was never a good place to be a vegetarian, as our friend, the children's author Anne Rooney, will attest.  During her visit, I think she subsisted mainly on slightly green tomatoes.  But things are obviously changing, as this review of a new vegetarian restaurant demonstrates

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Rocky Mountain West, that's Mongolia.

Ulaan Bataar is apparently a 'sister city' to Denver, Colorado.  I'm just wondering whether this creates opportunities for a Mongolian version of South Park

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Inscrutable, contained, besuited and elegant

Thanks to Karen of the entertaining and informative Austcrime blog for a very generous review of The Adversary.  The words in the title, incidentally, are those she chooses to describe Nergui.  Just right, I think. 

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Potentially fierce supermodels

I do occasionally worry that Western popular culture is slowly corrupting the world...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Murderous Marple

Martin Edwards's always fascinating blog, Do you write under your own name?, has recently included a couple of references to the town of Marple in Cheshire (or, more accurately these days, Greater Manchester).  His first post discussed the theory that Agatha Christie's famous detective was named after the town.  Yesterday, he discussed the now largely-forgotten crime writer, Joyce Porter, who was apparently born there.

I've found this interesting since, as it happens, I've lived in Marple for over ten years.  What's more, there's at least one other current crime writer living in the vicinity,  and the writer Edmund Cooper - best remembered as a science fiction writer but author of at least one crime novel - was also born in Marple. 

Given that Marple's a fairly pleasant little place on the edge of the Peak District, with a very limited number of mean streets, I'm not sure how to explain this affinity with crime fiction.  The attraction of opposites, maybe.