Friday, September 26, 2008

'The Shadow Walker' becomes 'Blutiger Schnee' - and Michael becomes Mike...

Yesterday, I received advanced copies of the German edition of The Shadow Walker, retitled Blutiger Schnee (which means 'blood on the snow' or thereabouts), which is to be published there by Goldmann in October.  Slightly mysteriously, it's written by my alter-ego, Mike Walters, who I imagine to be a rather tougher, more noirish character than Michael.  But I have to say that, whoever wrote it, Goldmann have done a terrific job in its production.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What is this place, this Mongolia?

So asks one Tim Wu, in Slate magazine, and then proceeds to answer his own question at some length.  An entertaining, if at times slighty fatuous, account.  Meanwhile, the Independent carries a more conventional but evocative account of life in the Gobi

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stew or smorgasbord?

Thanks to Declan Burke of the ever-entertaining Crime Always Pays blog for a namecheck during his week as guest poster on The Rap Sheet.  Declan is asking whether there really is such a beast as 'Irish crime fiction', concluding that, given the richness and diversity of the material on offer, there probably isn't.  Thankfully, he's not going to let that stop him writing about it. 

I'm sure Declan's right.  It seems to me, as an outsider, that Irish crime fiction is in an incredibly strong state at the moment, but that it's characterised by its extraordinary diversity rather than by any easily-identifiable common tone or voice.  Declan cites numerous examples in his posting, as he does every day on his excellent blog - if you want to begin exploring what's out there, you couldn't find a better guide.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fiery sermons, Jesus camps, Eagle TV - and Pink Floyd

I've written before, both on here and in the books, about the expansion of Christianity into Mongolia, and here's an interesting article from the San Francisco Chronicle on the subject.  Opinions seem to be divided, perhaps predictably, about whether the apparent expansion of Christianity is the result of evangelical indoctrination or practical good works.  Nevertheless the trend is undeniable, and is further evidenced by this artlcle from the Indian Catholic about the first Mongolian to join a seminary. 

If that's all a bit too spirtual for you, this Bloomberg piece (sadly topical in the week of Rick Wright's demise) indicates that Mammon is, as always, not too far away. 


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Skinny guys on skinny guys

The forthcoming third Nergui book, The Outcast (did I mention that it's published in November?) includes a climax set among the preparations for the annual Naadam Festival.  To whet your appetites a little, here's a lively account from the UB Post of this year's festival. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Third neighbours

Interesting new piece from the BBC about Mongolia's efforts to build relationships beyond Russia and China.  I don't know whether military exercises are necessarily the best way to build relationships, but then I'm not a politician. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

In a wet cowskin

I've written in both The Shadow Walker and The Adversary (and indeed in the forthcoming The Outcast) about the problems of alcoholism in Mongolia.  Here's a very interesting and well-balanced article from UB Post about the issue - dealing with its history, the impact of the Soviet Union and some more positive signs for the future. 

The historical material is fascinating.  I was particularly struck by the 13th century Ikh Zasag Law of the Great Mongol Empire: "In case a person arrives drunk at a workplace, first time impose a fine of a weapon he’s carrying with himself, second time impose the fine of a horse he’s riding, third time cut off an extremity of the body. If a fourth time, expel him out of the territory."  I was also impressed by the account of Chinggis Khaan’s son, Uguude who responded to a strict observance of only three cups of alcohol per day by the simple expedient of creating a giant cup.  According to the Secret History of the Mongols, he subsequently died of an alcohol related disease.  A lesson for emperors everywhere.