Sixty-Four Chance Pieces


Sixty-Four Chance Pieces, published by Earnshaw books in 2015

Sixty-Four Chance Pieces is a novel of sorts that puts the I Ching 易經, or Chinese Book of Changes, to work as a literature machine to generate new stories and new possibilities.

I started out on this project some time around 2005, and over the years it has grown into something of an obsession. Each of the sixty-four chapters of the book draws on a chapter of the Chinese text, and combines storytelling, travel writing and often wayward philosophical reflections as it traces the three thousand year-old intrigue of the I Ching.

Sixty-Four Chance Pieces was launched in March at the Bookworm Literary Festival — China’s biggest English language literature festival — with events in English and Chinese in Beijing, Chengdu, Suzhou and Ningbo.

The book is now available worldwide in paperback and ebook formats.

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Buckingham’s stories are glimpses into worlds familiar yet somehow distant, their landscapes and cultures verging on the mythical… Eclectic, with a healthy dose of humour, the stories of Sixty Four Chance Pieces act as provocations to consider the nature of our respective political, social and personal realities—a quality it shares with its parent text.”The Asian Review of Books
There is so much in the book to savour if you like a taste of magic realism mixed with observations about change and the passing of time. History, scholarship and finely honed literary skills combine to produce a minor masterpiece. A book about philosophy, adventure, discovery, about life and death, yin and yang, it’s also about creative transformations. As the Daoist sage, Zhuangzi, noted: ‘The existence of things is like a galloping horse. With every moment it changes. Every second it is transformed’.
Creative Transformations Asia
“Travelling without arriving, seeking without expectation of finding; Will Buckingham is a writer and philosopher of great humility and talent. Profoundly spiritual, entrancingly enigmatic, this is a magical book about the author’s quest to understand the ancient Chinese art of divination—and ultimately himself.”Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang, author of The Woman Who Lost China
I mentioned Will Buckingham’s Sixty-Four Chance Pieces once before, but I’ll happily jump on this opportunity to recommend them again. These are 64 short stories, one inspired by each hexagram, drawing on real knowledge of and insight into Yi and a true delight to read.Hilary Barrett's Online Clarity blog
The pages of Sixty-Four Chance Pieces: A Book of Changes (Earnshaw Books, 2015) are full of amazing characters – emperors! Leibniz! windowsill gods! a bear on a bicycle! a smile artist! Fu Xi! – and it is difficult to put down once you start reading. The stories themselves are wonderful to read on their own, and Will generously read three of them for us on the podcast. Go get yourself a copy: not only is it a great read, but it would make a great addition to a syllabus for university instructor who’s interested in assigning an example of a really inventive way to read and work with a classical Chinese text.Dr. Carla Nappi on the New Books Network