Sea of Ink

by Richard Weihe

Original price was: £10.00.Current price is: £6.00.

A beautiful novella in 50 short chapters and 10 pictures about the life of Bada Shanren, the most influential Chinese painter of all time. Runner-up for the Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2013 for Best English Translation from German. Foyles Books of the Year 2012.

In 1626, Bada Shanren is born into the Chinese royal family. When the old Ming dynasty crumbles, he becomes an artist, committed to capturing the essence of nature with a single brushstroke. Then the rulers of the new Qing dynasty discover his identity and Bada must feign madness to escape.

Fact and fiction arrive at a perfect union in this exquisite novella. A beautiful story about the quiet determined pursuit of inspiration, this is a charming and uplifting book.

Translated from the Swiss German by Jamie Bulloch.

112pp, paperback with flaps, £10.00
ISBN 978-0-9562840-8-2
Publication date: 03 September 2012

Press & Reviews

'This delicate novella is about the life of Bada Shanren ... He changes his names, whereabouts, but one thing is always with him – the sea of his black ink, his destiny through which he paddles with his brushes.' - Hamid Ismailov, Wasafiri 

'Intriguing, elegant, awesome in its precision and uplifting in its sheer beauty, this is a book to read, enjoy... and then read again.' - Pam Norfok, Lancashire Evening Post

'Delicate and moving' - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

'Richard Weihe weaves a story that moves between fact and fiction, threading the two together into a full-bodied story of the painter’s life.' - The Culture Trip

'Weihe’s poetic prose style works as a way of drawing a history out of these paintings, which he has succeeded in doing very well, to the point where I think the narrative supersedes the paintings.' - Annexe Magazine

About The Book


Richard Weihe studied drama and philosophy in Zurich and Oxford. His poetic biographies of influential artists have earned him a wide readership. Sea of Ink, published in Switzerland in 2005, won the Prix des Audituers de la Radio Suisse Romande. In 2010 he published Ocean of Milk based on the Indian-Hungarian painter Amrita Sher-Gil.


Jamie Bulloch is a historian and has worked as a professional translator from German since 2001. After studying Modern Languages, he obtained an MA in Central European History and followed up with a PhD in interwar Austrian history. His translations include books by Paulus Hochgatterer, Alissa Walser and Timur Vermes. He is the translator of five Peirene titles: Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius, Sea of Ink by Richard Weihe, The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, winner of the 2015 Schlegel-Tieck Prize for German Translation, The Empress and the Cake by Linda Stift and The Last Summer by Ricarda Huch. He is also the author of A Short History of Tuscany and Karl Renner: Austria.