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The Ten Thousand Things


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About the Author

John Spurling is the author of the novels The Ragged End, After Zenda and A Book of Liszts. He is a prolific playwright, whose plays have been performed on television, radio and stage, including at the National Theatre. Spurling is a frequent reviewer and was for twelve years the art critic of the New Statesman. He lives in London and Arcadia, Greece, and is married to the biographer Hilary Spurling.


Spellbinding ... The Ten Thousand Things has the sort of sensual prose that makes the reader purr with delight and is surely destined to be one of the books of the year.

* The Daily Mail *

In this immersive tale of a landscape artist's life, written with restrained lyricism, John Spurling has also given us an entertaining and insightful study about the art of nature, and the nature of art.

-- Tan Twan Eng, author of The Garden of Evening Mists

The Ten Thousand Things is a truly remarkable achievement ... Dramatic, absorbing, tender and profound ... extraordinary and wonderful.

-- Miranda Seymour, author of Noble Endeavours and In My Father's House

An enormous pleasure from start to finish.

-- Rachel Billington, author of Maria and Emma and Knightley

This is an extraordinary novel. Spurling brings together his strengths as a dramatist, an art critic and a novelist. It is an impressive combination that gives a tone of authenticity to his absorbing story and adds to its enjoyment. I look forward to the film.

-- Michael Holroyd, author of A Book of Secrets

I was amazed by The Ten Thousand Things, and by John Spurling's powerful imagination - with ten thousand details, he has brought the ancient Chinese artist Wang Meng to life in beautiful prose.

-- Xinran, author of Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother

Wang Meng is one of the most fascinating figures in Chinese history. In this lucid and brilliant novel, John Spurling uses him as a key character to recreate the end of an empire. A vivid evocation of a turbulent era with echoes of debates today about loyalty, choices and artistic integrity

-- Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally and presenter of Free Thinking

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