Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dragon House

One day last year, completely out of the blue, I received an email from an author named John Shors.

Having lived under a rock for the past 7 years, I hadn't read John Shors' novels, even though he's had a couple of best sellers. But John was working on a new project: a story about street kids in Vietnam. Would I mind having a look at the manuscript and perhaps giving some feedback, John asked?

As someone who plans to publish a best seller one day, but has yet to write it, I was excited to take this on... and I was curious to see how this writer would portray the world of Vietnamese street children. What I was most interested to see was if John would fall into the trap of cliches and stereotypes that plague most literature on the subject - both fiction and non fiction. Even many big NGOs produce material that merely perpetuates the myths of either the 'poor helpless victim' or the 'prince-in-paupers-clothing'. The truth, as always, is far more complex than any stereotype.

But in John Shors' novel, soon to be published, these cliches are nowhere to be seen. I was sometimes stunned to see the depth of the characters, and the understanding of reality that is portrayed across the pages. An example: early in the novel, there's a scene in which the 2 main street children are hussling tourists in a restaurant area of a hotel. As they leave, the staff demand a 'cut' of their takings. This is the sort of thing you never read about, yet it's typical of how street kids here are treated.

And the title? Dragon House. Too amazing.

Anyway, I don't want to give too much away. But I can say that there is no scene at the end where one person turns to another and says, "Luke, I'm your father." For anything more than that, though, you'll have to get your hands onto the book. It's really worth it.

John Shors already has a website up - www.dragonhousebook.com. Go check it out, and pass the word along.

In a few weeks, I'll add a page to the Blue Dragon website. John has offered that anybody who donates $100 to our Dragon House page can receive a signed copy of the novel. All the money raised will go towards running our centre for street kids.

I'm really excited by this! I feel that it's a huge honour to have a novelist lend his support to our work; and I know that readers will gain a much greater understanding of life on the streets of Vietnam.

More updates on this to come...


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1 comment:

amyha said...

aaahhhhh, a GOOD book? signed by the author about VN? and most importantly, to help BD?
Count me in!!!
*scuttling over to the site right now*