Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Odd Bestsellers

Possibly my best-selling title of the year is a book by someone virtually no one in the UK has heard of...
Xu Zhimo was an early 20th-century Chinese poet who sought to promote a modern Chinese poetry that broke with convention and followed Western forms, especially the style of the Romantic and Symbolist poets, with whose work he fell in love while studying at King’s College, Cambridge in 1922.
Verses from his most famous poem, ‘Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again’, are inscribed on a monument to him behind King’s Chapel. In light of his immense and ongoing popularity in China, Xu Zhimo can be counted as one of Cambridge’s most influential alumni.
Because of his importance to Chinese 20th-Century culture, (his poems are taught to every school child) his monument is now included in the official Chinese tour recommendations. Hundreds, if not thousands of Chinese now visit Cambridge every year to see his favourite spot, a willow tree on the backs. And luckily I manage to sell a lot of them a dual language book of his poems.