Alumni Services

September 2017

Expertise, personal experience and fantasy combine to fill this month's bookshelf, including an ode to J.M. Barrie, an expert's take on the Haitian Revolution, a holiday memoir, and a supernatural tale set in China.



Robert Chansky

Degree Artificial Intelligence

Hundred Ghost Soup

A Beijing orphan is nearly eighteen. He wants a family and a name, if only for a while. He hacks adoption papers to get them. He also gets, after a long train ride into an empty station in a ghost town, ghosts. Their leaders, calling themselves Mr. and Mrs. Vulpin, are his new parents. They are illusion-casting fox spirits, glamorous, clever, and trapped. They need him to free themselves of the ghosts. Our hero works for them and accepts their flaws so long as they pretend to be a family. But then he discovers their wonderful meals are illusory. Are the Vulpins up to no good? And the People's Republic of China will never allow spirits to possess a town. To save them all, he must travel back to Beijing, rifle the Politburo's files, and find a Minister's secrets. When he kindles the wrath of the People's Liberation Army and the Minister of Fate himself, he must penetrate layers of illusions, decide whom he can trust, and learn to cook. And then there is the matter of the soup's main ingredient: him.

Hundred Ghost Soup


Author Silvia Herreros de Tejada
Degree General and Comparative Literature

La Mano Izquierda de Peter Pan

1916-1937: The writer James Matthew Barrie, after the enormous success of Peter Pan, falls into a deep creative crisis and hires a new secretary, Lady Cynthia Asquith, an English aristocrat. They form a relationship beyond their professional lives, becoming lovers, relatives, colleagues and life partners. Barrie's writer's block is then cured by starting to write with his left hand, resulting in far more sinister thoughtd being written down.

2010: Two professors, David, Spanish, and Moira, North American, investigate the original Barrie manuscripts at the Beinecke Library of Yale University. They are preparing for a conference that will celebrate, in several places across Scotland, the 150th anniversary of the birth of the writer. They compete with each other to obtain the authorship of the official book of the congress. Moira is an expert on Cynthia Asquith, a little-known writer. To David, a specialist in Peter Pan, a seemingly outlandish hypothesis comes to mind: what if Barrie, out of love, wrote the alleged work of Cynthia Asquith with his left hand? Moira completely opposed this view. Both, in their forties, are somewhat disillusioned with their lives and project in Cynthia and Barrie everything they dare not do in real life.

La Mano Izquierda de Peter Pan


Author Philip Kaisary
Degree English Literature

The Haitian Revolution in the Literary Imagination

The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) reshaped the debates about slavery and freedom throughout the Atlantic world, accelerated the abolitionist movement, precipitated rebellions in neighboring territories, and intensified both repression and antislavery sentiment. The story of the birth of the world’s first independent black republic has since held an iconic fascination for a diverse array of writers, artists, and intellectuals throughout the Atlantic diaspora. Examining twentieth-century responses to the Haitian Revolution, Philip Kaisary offers a profound new reading of the representation of the Revolution by radicals and conservatives alike in primary texts that span English, French, and Spanish languages and that include poetry, drama, history, biography, fiction, and opera.

In a complementary focus on canonical works by Aimé Césaire, C. L. R. James, Edouard Glissant, and Alejo Carpentier in addition to the work of René Depestre, Langston Hughes, and Madison Smartt Bell, Kaisary argues that the Haitian Revolution generated an enduring cultural and ideological inheritance. He addresses critical understandings and fictional reinventions of the Revolution and thinks through how, and to what effect, authors of major diasporic texts have metamorphosed and appropriated this spectacular corner of black revolutionary history.

The Haitian Revolution in the Literary Imagination



Ian M Malcolm

Degree Teaching

A Holiday in Provence

This is a light-hearted story of a retired couple’s holiday in a beautiful part of France. The only demand made by the owners of the house in the hills was that their pets would be looked after, but it transpired that the pets made the holiday even more enjoyable. A car was put at their disposal and, as the author had never driven a left-hand-drive car on the ‘other’ side of the road, this lead to driving which his wife was not slow to criticise. You can almost hear the cicadas and smell the thyme!



Ali Whiteford

Degree Chemistry

An Enormous Reckless Blunder: The Story of the Lewis Chemical Works

This book covers the story of the Lewis Chemical Works which existed on the Isle of Lewis from 1857 to 1874. In 1844 James Matheson had purchased the Isle of Lewis with the vast fortune he had made from trading in the far-east. He set about to exploit the natural resources of the island and in doing so, hoped to increase the lot of the inhabitants. Henry Caunter, an amateur scientist and business/political associate of Matheson, carried out experiments showing the commercial possibilities of making the recently discovered fuel, paraffin, from the abundant supplies of the island's peat. The result was the Lewis Chemical Works.
It is a story of hope, drama and pathos, inhabited by curious gentry, academics, scoundrels and the people of Lewis.

An Enormous Reckless Blunder

Your book

If you are a member of the alumni community and have recently published a book, we would be delighted to include it in the Alumni Bookshelf. Email the details, along with your degree details, to Brian Campbell:

Email Brian Campbell

Please note

All of the further information links listed are the external websites of the book publisher, the author, or the bookseller. The University of Edinburgh is not responsible for the content and functionality of these sites.