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Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of The Oxford Translators' Revolution

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of The Oxford Translators' Revolution

by R. F. Kuang

Narrated by Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Billie Fulford-Brown

Unabridged

R. F. Kuang
Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of The Oxford Translators' Revolution

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of The Oxford Translators' Revolution

by R. F. Kuang

Narrated by Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Billie Fulford-Brown

Unabridged

R. F. Kuang

Audiobook (Digital)

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Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on August 23, 2022

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Babel by R.F. Kuang Sweepstakes

Pre-order Babel to be automatically entered for a chance to win a prize pack including a signed copy of Babel, a signed and complete hardcover set of The Poppy War trilogy, and a Fortnum & Mason tea gift basket. The sweepstakes ends on August 22, 2022. See details and official rules here.


Overview

From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of language and translation as the dominating tool of the British empire.

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he'll enroll in Oxford University's prestigious Royal Institute of Translation-also known as Babel.

Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working-the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars-has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire's quest for colonization.

For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide¿

Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? 

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.



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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

03/21/2022

Kuang (the Poppy War trilogy) underwhelms with a didactic, unsubtle take on dark academia and imperialism. After the unnamed protagonist’s mother dies in 1830s Canton, he dubs himself Robin Swift at the urging of professor Richard Lovell, an Oxford sinologist who tutors Mandarin-speaking Robin to become a student at Babel, Oxford’s Royal Institute of Translation. Robin falls in love with Oxford and his cohort: witty Calcutta-born Ramiz Rafi Mirza; secretive Haitian-born Victorie Desgraves; and self-righteous Brighton-born Letitia Price. Together they learn the magical process of capturing in silver the linguistic nuances lost in translation—and along the way uncover the process’s ties to imperialism. This brilliant, ambitious concept falters in execution, reading more like a postcolonial social history than a proper novel. The narrative is frequently interrupted by lectures on why imperialism is bad, not trusting the reader or the plot itself enough to know that this message will be clear from the events as they unfold. Kuang assumes an audience that disagrees with her, and the result keeps readers who are already aware of the evils of racism and empire at arm’s length. The characters, meanwhile, often feel dubiously motivated. Readers will be drawn in by the fascinating, linguistic magic system and righteous stance, but many will come away frustrated. Agent: Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Associates. (Aug.)

Washington Post

"A wholly unique experience."

Book Marks on The Burning God

"It feels nostalgic, wistful even … The Burning God is the best-written book of the trilogy … This place and this protagonist are singular in fantasy literature."

Booklist (starred review) on The Burning God

"Bringing her complex Poppy War trilogy to a poignant conclusion, Kuang shines a searing light on the devastating price and valiant sacrifices that warfare requires of all involved."

Washington Post

"A wholly unique experience."

Library Journal

03/01/2022

In Dean's big, intriguingly premised debut, Devon is part of a venerable clan belonging to The Book Eaters—instead of food, they munch thrillers, romance, and, when they misbehave, dusty dictionaries—and she's terrified to learn that her son is born hungering not for paper, printing, and binding but human minds (150,000-copy first printing). In The Women Could Fly, a dystopian work from Rumpus features editor Giddings, the mother of a young Black woman named Josephine is long vanished—was she a witch? Was she murdered?—and if Josephine doesn't marry soon, she will be forced to enroll in a registry that will effectively blot out her freedom (75,000-copy first printing). In Harris's The Serpent in Heaven, a sequel to The Russian Cage, Felicia is set upon by her estranged family of Mexican wizards and discovers that she is the most powerful witch of her generation (75,000-copy first printing). In Don't Fear the Reaper, Jones's follow-up to the LJ best-booked My Heart Is a Chainsaw, an exonerated Jade Daniels returns home from prison just as convicted serial killer Dark Mill South arrives to avenge 38 Dakota men hanged in 1862 (100,000-copy first printing). In this latest from the multi-award-nominated Kuang, a Chinese boy orphaned in 1828 Canton (now Guangzhou) is brought to London and eventually enters Oxford's Royal Institute of Translation—called Babel—which doubles as a center for magic and compels him to work in support of Britain's imperial ambitions in China (125,000-copy first printing). Modesitt continues his newly launched "Grand Illusion" series with Steffan Dekkard joining the Council of Sixty-Six as Councilor—the first to be an Isolate, which makes him impervious to emotional manipulation but could lead to his assassination (100,000-copy first printing). Author of the Slate best-booked Quick, Owens has Kate planning to hold her wedding at a church called Small Angels in the town where she once found shelter with the Gonne sisters, little realizing that they've been tasked with keeping a marauding ghost from invading the village—and they're falling down on the job. Winner of a BCALA Self-Publishing EBook Award for Song of Blood and Stone, one ofTime's 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time, Penelope returns with The Monsters We Defy, whose heroine pays off a debt to the Empress ruling the spirit world by agreeing to steal a wealthy woman's ring in 1925 Washington, DC (25,000-copy first printing). From Valdes, author of the LJ best-booked Chilling Effects, Fault Tolerance brings back Capt. Eva Innocente and the raucous crew of La Sirena Negra to counter an anonymous threat that could lead to the death of billions (50,000-copy first printing). Dragon/Nebula finalist Virdi launches a new series with The First Binding, featuring an Immortal disguised as a storyteller—and he's here to relate how he unleashed the First Evil on the world (175,000-copy first printing). The MMU Novella Award-winning West goes full length with Face, set in a genetically engineered society where the perfect profile buys fame, wealth, and power but not happiness for Schuyler and Madeleine Burroughs (60,000-copy first printing).

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176230796
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/23/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

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