Sam's remarkable debut novel is Under Fishbone Clouds. This tells the story of the lifelong love between the peasant boy Hou Jinyi and the rich city girl Bian Yuying. It begins in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation, and follows their struggle for survival through the subsequent civil war, the 1949 revolution, the Great Leap Forwards and the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, which bring separation, ruin and death.
The story is narrated by the Kitchen God, who follows the lives of the two lovers in order to win a bet with the Jade Emperor that he cannot discover the secret of the human heart. This is a love story on a massive scale – a Chinese Dr Zhivago – which nevertheless concerns itself with the infinitely small doings of men and women, and it speaks volumes about human love and resilience, about cowardice, power and evil, and presents a picture of 20th Century China that is as heart-breaking as it is horrific. It is a novel about the very heights and depths of human emotion and experience, but it is achieved without an ounce of sentimentalism, and with unyielding narrative discipline. Sam’s prose is extraordinarily beautiful, constantly fresh, constantly surprising, and unfailingly evocative of a life, a world and a history all so strange and yet rendered so familiar by the palpable humanity of the story.
Sam liveswith his wife and child in China. After graduating from Oxford he took a Masters Degree in Creative Writing at EdinburghUniversity. He works as an editor for Oxford University Press, China. His first volume of poetry, The Bestiary,was publishedin May 2008 by Polygon.
His new novel The Book of Crows was published by Polygon in 2011.
A young girl is kidnapped and taken through the desert to an isolated mountain brothel. Two thousand years later, after a suspicious landslide near Lanzhou, a low-level bureaucrat searches for a missing colleague. A thirteenth century Franciscan monk, traversing the Silk Road, begins his extraordinary deathbed confession, while five hundred years earlier, a grieving Chinese poet is summoned to the Emperor's palace. In a series of delicately interlaced stories, Sam Meekings' richly poetic and gripping second novel follows the journeys of characters whoe lives, separated by millenia, are all in some way touched by the mysterious Book of Crows - a mythical book in which the entire history of the world - past, present and future - is written down.