Dark Chapter is shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize

It’s been nearly three months since Dark Chapter’s publication in UK/Ireland — and here’s the most exciting news yet: my novel’s been shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize! You may wonder why the prize exists (the winner receives a mug, and nothing more), but it was set up partly to challenge the elitist, insider world of literary prizes.  So the prize is entirely crowdsourced. This means that of the 160+ longlisted titles, Dark Chapter was among the top five books receiving the most votes from the public — more specifically, we tied for second place.  This means a great deal to me, as it can be tough for books with independent publishers to gain traction.   But it looks like the novel has already started to connect with readers, and I hope the attention Dark Chapter gets from the shortlisting will introduce it to even more.  By complete coincidence, The Guardian also ran this excellent interview with me (unrelated to the Not The Booker), on July 31st about the book and after-care for rape victims.

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 01.50.49

In other news, the US/Canada publication is two weeks away — Polis Books will be publishing it on September 12th, and you can pre-order the book at all major booksellers in North America. Trade reviews have been fantastic:       

“A gripping debut… Li does a fine job exploring how one incident can change the course of a life in this astute psychological study.” — Publishers Weekly

“That Li was able to write this novel, as both personal catharsis and public service, speaks volumes about her inner strength. Li’s novel is both a valuable social document and a riveting page-turner.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Li skillfully compels the reader to examine life stories that have converged through a nightmarish act of violence.” — Library Journal (Starred Review)

“A thoughtful, empathetic portrayal of the challenges rape victims face when seeking justice.” — Booklist

I also got to write this short piece for Publishers Weekly. (I am of course open to any media interviews or event suggestions in the US)  I’m currently on vacation in California and just opened a box full of the US copies…


Five days after that on Sept 17th, Harper Collins Holland will publish the Dutch edition.  Here’s what the cover looks like, it’s pretty different from the British and American versions!

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 02.22.36

Needless to say, Dark Chapter has started to reach international readers even before translated editions come out.  Die Zeit online newsletter ran this interview in German with me, and someone even blogged about my book in Greek.  This summer, we also sold translation rights in German, Czech, Korean, Italian, and Icelandic. That makes a total of nine territories where the novel will be published!  

Meanwhile, I continued my book tour in the UK and Ireland this summer, speaking at more events in Bristol, Brighton, London, before returning to Belfast for the Feile an Phobail. I was in conversation with the eminent Belfast writer Glenn Patterson at a standing-room only event at the Culturlann Arts Centre in West Belfast, the area of the city where my real-life assault and the novel’s events took place. 

Culturlann, Winnie M Li in conversation with Glenn Patterson about her new book Dark Chapter. pictured: Winnie M Li with Glenn Patterson, Councillor Geraldine McAteer and Daniel Lawton (US Consul General) 0408JC17

Culturlann, Winnie M Li in conversation with Glenn Patterson about her new book Dark Chapter. pictured: Winnie M Li with Glenn Patterson, Councillor Geraldine McAteer and Daniel Lawton (US Consul General) 0408JC17

I also led a discussion group with women from the Falls Women’s Centre, and popped down to Dublin for a double book launch with the author Clar Ni Chonghaile at the legendary Hodges & Figgis bookstore there. In Belfast, there was a fair amount of press coverage, including articles with The Belfast Telegraph, Belfast Media Group, Irish News, and this television piece with UTV News.

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 02.28.35

Anyway, I’m supposed to be not working (though I have just spent time updating this webpage… ha), but when I get back to London next week, there’ll be plenty more events and news to announce. I have a busy autumn ahead of me! 

dark chapter updated Aug

MA Portfolio FINISHED & Research in Ireland

Ah, the big news is I handed in my portfolio (aka dissertation) for my MA in Creative and Life and Writing at Goldsmiths — and am now DONE with all the requirements for that course!  The deadline was at 4pm, and I handed it in at 3:45.  (I consider this progress: as an undergraduate, I would have been frantically racing down the department corridor at 3:59.)

Here’s a nice literary shot of my final portfolio, with some of the random books that influenced it.   However, I think I’m most proud of somehow managing to cite the Moscow car chase scene from The Bourne Supremacy in my Critical Commentary.

The portfolio was comprised entirely of extracts from my upcoming novel, Dark Chapter, which I have been researching heavily this summer. In August, I made my second 2014 trip to Belfast and ended up staying for nearly two weeks, living with a very hospitable family on the Falls Road and hanging out at the Feile an Phobail, the annual West Belfast arts festival.  Lots of great debate and discussion, where I got to learn more about the fascinating (and harrowing) history of that part of Belfast, plus literary readings and a very diverse line-up of musical acts.  There’s nothing quite like watching Boyzone perform in a circus tent, when you’re in a crowd of 4,000 Irish women going mental!

More importantly, the trip was a really genuine way to soak up the atmosphere of West Belfast, where much of my novel is set.  I had a lot of illuminating conversations with forensic psychologists, social workers, solicitors, community organizers, the West Belfast Partnership Board, the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland, the Probation Board, the Belfast Travellers Support Program, and I went to visit The Rowan, the spanking new SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) in Antrim, which serves all of Northern Ireland. Now I just have to make sure all this somehow makes it in to my novel.  Wish me luck!