Authors celebrate launch of Asian literary agency until lights go out

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 March, 2010, 12:00am

In the midst of the Literary Festival, Asia's one and only agency for writers has announced its arrival. The Peony Literary Agency, started by Marysia Juscziewicz (third from right) and ably assisted by her Beijing colleague Tina Chou (left), threw a cocktail reception on Wednesday at the China Club. Since the opportunity for free drinks is a rare event for solitary authors, the packed party went late into the night.

'We got thrown out. They closed the bar and started shutting the lights,' Juscziewicz said. 'Our predecessor, the Creative Work agency, was founded by Duncan Jepson and Ilyus Khan. I ran it for them and established it. When that closed, Peony effectively took over in managing the author base last year.'

That includes last year's Man Asia Literary Prize winner Su Tong (second from left). Also on their exclusive roster is John Chan Koon-chung (right). Still, literary agents are mostly a rare and unknown breed in Asia. 'I think we are the only author representation agency here. In effect, we have to educate writers to what we can do for them, especially in China. Then, often the authors with the most interest are those that speak against the government and are politically incorrect. That makes life difficult sometimes. E-mails are checked. There are a lot of policies to contend with,' Juscziewicz said.

But, conversely, finding open-minded editors can be a frustrating process itself. 'One way I choose editors to work with is whether they'll see a subtitled film. So many people in the US and UK don't.'