• Food of Love by Sylvia Vetta
  • Oxford Castaways

Food of Love

Click the link opposite to listen to Sylvia discussing her newest book ‘Food of Love’with Fleur Ostojak at BBC Radio Oxford.

Brushstrokes in Time

Brushstrokes in Time is the fictional memoir of Chinese artist Little Winter, who tries to re-establish the bond with her American daughter, telling the story of her emotional and rebellious past. While growing up in China, Little Winter discovers talent and rebellion, joining ‘The Stars’ art movement for freedom of speech in an era where self-expression and love were a dangerous act.

Filmmaker Andy Cohen found 40 minutes of contemporary film about the Stars (1979). You can watch the trailer here.

Dr Joy Zhang University of Kent China studies made three short video interviews with Sylvia on why she was so passionate about letting the world know about the courageous Stars Artists, who included Ai Weiwei.


Sylvia introduces Beijing Spring in this magazine article.

Praise for Brushstrokes in Time

Former chief foreign correspondent of the Guardian, China expert, John Gittings, read it determined to find fault but says that he failed and that;

“Vetta is always accurate with a grasp of vivid detail.”

The internationally respected poet, Dr Jenny Lewis says,

“For me, it has to be among my top ten historical novels, certainly of this century. Utterly mesmerising and unforgettable.”

Dr. Maria Jaschok who lived in China between 1980-1996 says,

“Moving but never mawkish, informed yet entirely accessible.”

Among the 72 mostly 5 star reviews on Amazon all of which testify to a GOOD READ Ray Foulk the author of Stealing Dylan from Woodstock,

“I haven’t done much work today because I could not put this page-turner down. As I reached the end just one thought dominated: everyone should read this book. No one I’ve ever come across has managed to tell the story of modern Chinese politics, arts and society in such accessible, imaginative and compelling a fashion.”

Sculpting the Elephant

To hear Sylvia’s own story and why she wanted to write Sculpting the Elephant watch this 4 minute video.

Harry King, artist and antiques dealer, thinks he has just made the worst purchase of his life – an enormous Victorian chest of drawers filled with ancient newspapers and bric-a-brac that now takes up half his shop. But when he trips over the beautiful historian Ramma Gupta, he realises he might have got more than he bargained for. Their story becomes entwined with the life of a Victorian explorer who mysteriously disappeared. A cross-cultural journey takes them from Oxford to India to uncover love, secrets, and the teachings of a lost empire.

Sylvia’s new book is available now from Amazon by clicking on the links below or order it at any book shop in the world: 

Sylvia was interviewed about her life and inter-racial marriage on Radio Oxford:

Oxford Castaways

Oxtopia is full. The third and final castaway book has been published on behalf of Sobell House. In 2007 Sylvia invented the mythical island of Oxtopia and in January 2008, in Oxfordshire Limited Edition magazine, she sent her first castaway Christopher Brown the then Director of the Ashmolean to the island. When the fiftieth castaway joined him there my editor, Tim Metcalfe, with the help of artist Weimin He combined the 50 interviews into a beautifully illustrated book called Oxford Castaways. Those fifty were joined by forty more remarkable people and their life stories are in Oxford Castaways 2, published by Oxfordfolio in support of Vale House.

The seemingly infinite pool of diversity ended in November 2016 with castaway No 120 – the final Oxtopian- Sylvia Vetta’s life story told by Philip Hind. Oxford Castaways 3 was published in March 2017 and the proceeds will go to Sobell House hospice.( copies available from the Sobell House shops and online shop) This 3 minute film will tell you something about the diversity of background of Sylvia’s castaways. All the world seems to pass through Oxford!

All proceeds to Sobell House when bought from the hospices online shop or charity shops:

Listen to an interview of Sylvia and one of her castaways, Simonetta Agnello Hornby, on BBC Radio Oxford;

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