Rethink’ on Radio4 chaired by Amol Rajan is a must listen to programme.  Looking at the decade ahead, he asked the panel, what do citizens of the West need to do?  Prof.Rana Mitter replied,

‘Have faith and rebuild free media’… but also that everyone in the West needs to learn more about the largest authoritarian power in the world that is going to be around for at least 25-30 years. As well as knowing about its leaders, he recommends we know about the everyday conversations about feminism and environmentalism in China.

THAT is why I wrote Brushstrokes in Time. Yes, I am white and British and not a China expert and in many eyes that invalidates my voice but I did exactly what Rana recommends. I heard about the courageous Stars artists (including Ai Weiwei) who changed Chinese art for ever, in 1979. They overturned socialist realism and began to express themselves freely.  So why doesn’t the wider world know about them?

I realised that a Chinese writer in China could NOT write about them because they live in an authoritarian state that doesn’t allow anyone to mention Tiananmen June 4 1989.  So if no one else was going to do it , then I would. I interviewed one of the founders, now British resident, Qu Leilei in DEPTH over 3 years and talked to other artists and eyewitnesses to the events in Brushstrokes in Time and visited the relevant sites in China and read and read including John Gitting’s ‘The Changing face of China’ . The film maker Andy Cohen has now done the same.

The link to his film trailer Beijing Spring  and some pics are on this article I wrote,

The advantage of my novel is that you don’t need to know anything about China to read and enjoy it. You will hear unique Chinese voices with whom you can empathise.  Look at the 70 reviews on Amazon and that is what they all say.

Is it authentic?  Not only the Stars say so but John Gittings who was the Guardian’s Chief Correspondent in Beijing at the time read it hoping to find fault with it but instead has endorsed it and says,

‘Vetta is always accurate with a grasp of vivid detail.’

I believe Brushstrokes in Time is the only accessible book on the Stars so if you want to take Rana Mitter’s advice, why not uses this easy read as a starting point?

Then why not read one of Rana ‘s books?  I recommended one on this fabulous new book search site