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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Have you been to ‘Kuan’s Wonderland’?

Kuan’s Wonderland is an allegorical novel set in a surreal dystopian world. It tells the story of young Kuan who is taken by force to a realm called Shiyan, where nothing is as it appears. He tries to find a way to escape and reunite with his father, not suspecting that both father and son could be the target of a nefarious conspiracy. It has been:

• Widely acclaimed as a gripping tale about power, deceit and defiance in the struggle against oppression.
• Highly rated by readers for its plot-twists and layers of meaning.
• Recommended reading to facilitate group discussions on social injustice in youth and adult education.

E-book version: £0.99
Paperback: £7.99

What’s been written about Kuan’s Wonderland?

• “Kuan’s Wonderland is an unmissable page-turner. Tam has created a fantasy universe unlike any that has come before.” (President, the Independent Publishers Guild)
• “It is fast-paced while containing beautifully written and memorable passages. And the ending is tense, unexpected and powerful.” (Economics Editor, The Independent newspaper)
• “Simply a tour de force. It is powerfully imaginative … [and] full of plot surprises and layers of deeper meaning.” (Director for Education, WEA)
• “[A] fast-moving adventure in a new world, which sparkles with visually captivating creatures and imaginative technology … [The ending is] astonishing.” (Fantasy Book Review)

What do readers like about it?

Here are a few excerpts from the customer feedback posted at amazon.co.uk:

• “I can't remember the last time I was so gripped by a book. It kept me up late three nights in a row while I finished it. Indeed I contemplated abandoning work for a day just so I could find out what happened next. It's a very seductive read.” (A. J. Marks)
• “There are so many layers of meaning, … that a reader will be able to return again and again, and see fresh details each time. As soon as I'd finished Tam's novel, I had a huge urge to go back to the beginning and start all over again.” (Helen M.)
• “Tam has created an extraordinary world and a story line which makes the book a delight to read. The plot is full of action and constant surprise. But more than that, there is a depth to the book and a clear moral and political challenge for each of us to consider.” (Anton)
• “Imagine the bastard lovechild of Pan's Labyrinth and 1984 - if you can - and you might get a flavour of what's waiting for you with Kuan's Wonderland. … The twist at the end is inspired - it will be playing on your mind for days after you finish reading.” (YakinaMac)

Who’s recommending it for reading circles?

• “A great book to open debate and enquiry with young people on society and politics.” (Gary Buxton, Chief Executive, Young Advisors)
• “Kuan's Wonderland is a mesmerizing novel. … Readers young and old will be intrigued by the story and both teachers and students are going to have much to talk about and around it.” (Nicolette Burford, Director, Documentary Film-Makers Cooperative)
• “It is vital that young people understand the problems of power inequality if we are to bring about change and Kuan's Wonderland offers a unique, imaginative, way of introducing them to the issue. We highly recommend it!” (Julie Thorpe, Head of School & Youth Programmes, the Co-operative College).
• “Kuan’s Wonderland and the resource guide which accompanies it … [provide] an innovative and valuable way of engaging young people to explore issues surrounding equality and democracy in a way which speaks to them.” 
(Rachel Roberts, Director, Phoenix Education Trust)

Would you be interested in the teaching resource for the novel?

A learning resource for teachers and students interested in discussing the novel has been developed with the Equality Trust. The resource can be downloaded for free via the Equality Trust link for ‘Kuan’s Wonderland: A Novel Exploration of Inequality’. This will enable you to:
• Use the novel to facilitate discussions of equality and democracy in class.
• Share your views with other schools.
• Devise action plans to promote equality and cooperation in school and the wider community.

According to Kate Pickett (Director, Equality Trust, & co-author of The Spirit Level: why more equal societies almost always do better):

Kuan’s Wonderland is a didactic novel that doesn’t hesitate to entertain the reader. It shows that political theorists can engage a wider public with an imaginative medium such as popular fiction without losing intellectual force. The Equality Trust welcomes this opportunity to work with Henry Tam with the publication of the learning resource for his novel as part of our Young Person’s Guide to Inequality.”

Teachers can request a free pdf version of the novel for use at their school. Or readers can download their own e-copy for 99p to their Kindle, iPad, or any computer device with a free Kindle app from amazon.co.uk