Sixty-Four Chance Pieces: A Book of Changes

Of all the books I have written, Sixty-Four Chance Pieces is perhaps the book closest to my heart. I think of it as a novel-of-sorts, but in actual fact it is more a curiously freewheeling mash-up of fiction, philosophy and travel-writing. If a novel is a big bird, then this is more like a flock of small birds that, if you squint, you might mistake for an eagle. Or a Roc. Or something like that. It is certainly the strangest book I have ever written. It took the best part of a decade, and draws together all kinds of philosophical and literary interests.

The Chinese I Ching — the Book of Changes, upon which this novel-of-sorts is based — is one of the oldest and strangest of all books. It is a masterpiece of world literature, a divination manual and a magnet for the deranged and the obsessive. Sixty-Four Chance Pieces, puts the I Ching to work, using it to weave together sixty-four stories of chance and change, each flowing from one of the I Ching’s 64 hexagrams. Moving between myth, fable and travel-writing, Sixty-Four Chance Pieces offers an attempt to make sense of the maddening, changeable book that is the I Ching, with tales of inventors and fox-spirits, ancient poets and non-existent rulers, kleptomaniac pensioners and infernal bureaucrats.

“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.