01/12/2020 - 6:00pm





China is the center of the world, and the center of China is Beijing, and at the center of Beijing is a billionaire financier named Qin. At the opening of this novel-in-stories, Qin is lying in state at his funeral, victim of a sudden and premature death. But it is not until the end of Tel’s biting, virtuosic, post-post-modern feat of cultural observation that the manner of Qin’s death is revealed.


Moving back and forth in time, we meet a wide range of Chinese, all linked to Qin by a degree or two of separation: a property developer, a street artist, a prostitute, a fashion model, a spy, an expat lawyer, a muckraking journalist. Linlin and Feifei are sisters, though not really, as “that would be contrary to government policy.” A husband and wife who hardly know each other are reunited in the mysterious Factory 221, where he has become head geologist of a Chinese nuclear base by virtue of survival. “Business relationships,” Qin thinks, “are often like a series of seemingly independent stories that turns out in the end to make up one grand narrative.”

Please note that admission to this event requires either a purchase of the book OR a $5 admission voucher. Books and vouchers can be purchased online in advance or at the door on the day of the event; advance orders will be available for pickup at the store on the day of the event. The admission voucher functions like a gift card and is good toward $5 off anything in store at WORD on the day of the event only.


Jonathan Tel is an award-winning novelist and short story writer whose books include Arafat’s Elephant, Freud’s Alphabet, and The Beijing of Possibilities. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Granta. Stories in this book have won the Sunday Times EFG Story Prize, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and the V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize. Tel teaches history at Stanford University in Berlin, travels widely, and is in Beijing as often as possible.


Roseann Lake is a former Beijing correspondent and author of the bestselling book, "Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World's Next Superpower" (published in Chinese as 单身时代). Her work and reporting has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Guardian and The Atlantic, among others. Roseann has spoken about the social and economic gains made by trailblazing young Chinese women at universities, conferences and for private institutions across the US, the UK and China. She currently covers Cuba for The Economist.  




Scratching the Head of Chairman Mao Cover Image
ISBN: 9781885983725
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: Turtle Point Press - January 28th, 2020

"A tour de force of deep knowledge, uncanny powers of observation, and brilliant tragicomic invention." --James Lasdun
"A remarkable and very moving feat of storytelling." --Andrew Holgate
A Foreword Reviews Editor's pick

Money makes Beijing go round in Jonathan Tel's seductive, puzzle-like novel-in-stories.

Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World's Next Superpower Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393254631
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 13th, 2018

Factory Girls meets The Vagina Monologues in this fascinating narrative on China’s single women—and why they could be the source of its economic future.

$5 admission voucher to this event. Your voucher functions like a gift card and can be used toward anything in store on the night of the event only.