How I Won the Mr. T Award

I didn’t even know who Mr. T was, until I received an impressive certificate, suitable for framing, with his fierce visage staring me in the face. Such a surprise.

Mr. T

You might wonder what I did to earn such an honor. Well, it was easy! I got in front of a video camera and babbled with sincerity about our two new spring 2020 books, Every Thread a Story, and The Secret Language of Miao Embroidery. The judges were the sales representatives of our national book distribution company, Independent Publishers Group (IPG). They loved it! They also have a silly streak, hence the Mr. T Award. Here’s the gist of what I said:

“When you think of China today, maybe you think of riots in Hong Kong, or swarms of people in bicycle gridlock in Beijing, or heaps of shoddy “Made in China” goods being carted off to our landfills, or skies dense with toxic fog. But there’s another China.
Mr. T

“Guizhou Province is the least visited, least known, least traveled, most beautiful, best preserved part of China. Just check with Trip Advisor or Smithsonian. It’s a land of green mountains, vast waterfalls, pristine rice paddies, and ethnic minority people living the lives they have for centuries. These beautiful, cheerful, welcoming people continue to raise their cotton and silk, spin their yarn, weave their fabrics, and embroider their stories just as they have for centuries. This charming way of life might last one more generation, maybe two.

textile travel

“For Every Thread a Story, we traveled with our best photographer into the back villages of Guizhou, talking to artisans and capturing their stories. We’ve made a beautiful book, which is what we do. As a bonus, we found a woman who has been documenting the work of the Miao people of Guizhou for more than forty years. See, the thing is, these people had no written language at all. They kept their cultural values, their origin stories, their heroes and demons, in the fabrics they made and embroidered and passed down for generations. So that’s The Secret Language of Miao Embroidery. With Every Thread a Story, it makes a beautiful boxed set, and there’s nothing else like it.”

It was heartfelt, sincere, true. I’m not sure what it has to do with Mr. T, though, except that he is sincere in his toughness and true as a bouncer and professional wrestler, among other things. Who am I to question such an accolade?

We’ll have much more to share about these two books in coming weeks because we want you to come to know our authors, Wang Jun and Zeng Li, and the artisans who shared their stories and skills with us. As I told the sales reps at IPG, these books aren’t for just anybody. Their appeal is for artisan craft enthusiasts and adventure travelers and collectors, not the masses. In other words, for you. Stay tuned.

And in the meantime, Happy Chinese New Year.


Pre-order your copy today!

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