A “profoundly important book” – Francis Phillips, Catholic Herald
“Philosophically sophisticated yet down-to-earth, this bold call to action should be read by all who care about the formation and welfare of children” – Alison Milbank, Associate Professor of Literature and Theology, University of Nottingham
“Witty, personal, and authoritative, this beautifully written and deeply learned book makes fresh the timeless lessons of a Catholic education” – Andre Gushurst-Moore, Second Master, Worth School
Out of the Classroom and Into the World is available now from all good bookshops!
For more information about my first novel, Between Darkness and Light, see here. Publication date: 24th June 2019.
Only recently have researchers begun to take account of the truth that the same terrible events that brought war memorials to almost every village in England also brought right into the middle of the horror tens of thousands of men from another deep-rooted civilization on the other side of the world. After a century and more that long-forgotten story may have become hard to grasp. But now this vivid narrative takes us deep into the heart of the matter. Of all the imaginings of those times, this is a tale that stands out. There is nothing else quite like this; Roy Peachey can be completely proud of his unique achievement.
T. H. Barrett, Professor Emeritus of East Asian History, SOAS
Between Darkness and Light is a tragic epic set in a historical period that continues to haunt relationships between China and the western world. Tens of thousands of Chinese labourers, often working under the most hazardous and inhumane conditions, contributed to the allies’ victory in World War I. Yet when the war was over, western nations scorned their Chinese ally and unilaterally took away the one thing China had fought for, namely the sovereignty over the former German concessions in Shandong province. Against the backdrop of this diplomatic outrage, Roy Peachey tells us the moving story of one of the interpreters assigned to the Chinese Labour Corps, Wang Weijun from Shanghai, a remarkable young man on a quest to give meaning to his life, find clarity of vision (literally), and put to good use his linguistic skills. With keen eye for historical and cultural detail, Peachey takes his readers on a sad odyssey across China and around the world, ending in a no-man’s land where Weijun finds the fate that was foreshadowed from the start — but with a surprising, humane twist.
Michel Hockx, Professor of Chinese Literature, University of Notre Dame, USA
Peachey’s protagonist, one-eyed Wang the translator, opens up to us a dazzling, harrowing and hitherto unrecorded history: that of the Chinese Labour Corps in World War One. Recruited in their thousands to toil behind the lines, they were sent to the Front after the Armistice, digging up the rotting fragments of the dead from stinking temporary graves and sorting them for proper burial. Sickness, suicide and unexploded bombs take their arbitrary toll in disfigurement and worse; and Wang himself, their translator, interpreter and historian, is among the ruined survivors.
In this compelling and audacious novel about sight and insight, perspective and translation, Peachey’s Wang Weijun ‘turns disfigurement to his advantage’ and examines China and the West through a wryly humorous and uniquely perceptive solitary lens. He is forced to see both worlds through his one good brown eye and mischievously declares his hybridity with a bright blue enamel one in the empty socket of the other. Fascinated by the translator’s quantum trick of being in two places at once, he delights both in sleights of hand with spare eyeballs and packs of cards, and in conjuring bridges across the gaps of monolingual incomprehension.
Perhaps to compensate for his missing eye, he is single-mindedly insatiable in learning English and French, in absorbing and interpreting Western literature and culture, and in contrasting them with his own – not always favourably. In doing so he pays the price of alienation and realises that a translator is ‘someone who will never belong’; but he nevertheless gives names, narratives and identity to the forgotten dead, among whom he was both a companion and an outsider. His redemption, and theirs, is in the telling of this story.
Martin Alexander, Editor-in-Chief, Asia Literary Review
The trouble with new books is that they prevent us from reading old ones. That was the view of Joseph Joubert writing at the turn of the nineteenth century, and the problem is even more acute today. With fifty chapters on fifty books by fifty different authors, 50 Books for Life is a new book that reveals the riches of older ones, providing an accessible introduction to Catholic novels, plays, poetry, and non-fiction from every corner of the globe. Taking us from twenty-first century Korea to the Bible via the work of Waugh, Dryden, and Dante, 50 Books for Life is a guide that can be read from cover to cover or dipped into at spare moments. It is a book that points beyond itself to books that can engage us for a lifetime.
Praise for 50 Books for Life
“Faithful Catholics today are professional salvagers, collecting and conserving elements of the high culture of the Catholic tradition to pass on to their children and grandchildren. This work is an important contribution to this salvage operation. It not only introduces the reader to the classical works of Catholic literature but is itself a literary treasure. It deserves a place on the bookshelf in the living room of every Catholic family.”
“Roy Peachey’s 50 Books for Life assembles a dazzlingly diverse and enriching corpus of Catholic writings from across the centuries and the continents. From Chesterton to Claudel, from Wu Li to Dante, from Bede to the Bible, Peachey guides us through a delightful smorgasbord of novels, poems, essays, plays, sacred texts, and ancient reflections. Newcomers to the field will discover in Peachey’s book a sure set of reference points for their journey of discovery; experienced readers will find a provocative and intriguing path across a landscape they might have thought they already knew. This book is an indispensable guide for frustrated readers bored with trite literary fluff, and, perhaps most especially, those seeking paths towards the half-forgotten springs of life.”
“Roy Peachey has assembled a unique reading guide for thoughtful readers looking for deeper insight into the Catholic imagination, for literature that truly ‘points beyond itself.’ His obvious love of the texts draws the reader beyond himself towards eternity. With this guide, any apprehensions you may have regarding tackling those ‘tough reads’ you always wanted to try will be assuaged with the brief but engaging synopses and analyses of each book.”
“This book is a real gem. Succinct yet full of depth and sound literary judgment, it is a wonderfully accessible guide to many of the finest works of Christendom.”
A “sparkling and erudite little volume” – Francis Phillips, Catholic Herald
Praise for Did Jesus go to School? and other questions about parents, children and education.
In this excellent book, Roy Peachey invites us to reconsider what it means for parents to be the first educators of their children through a series of thought-provoking reflections on the Gospel passages about the childhood of Jesus. Peachey’s insightful discussion on the youth of Jesus invites us to consider the moments of grace that parenting offers us each day and how we might rethink the societal divisions between schooling and parenting to form a unified idea of educating the whole child towards an encounter with God. This book is a ‘must-read’ for parents, teachers and everyone interested in how we model education on the life of Christ. As soon as I had finished it, I wanted to read it again!
DR NANCY C. WALBANK – Diocese of Lancaster Education Service