Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
As an academic of Chinese history I published Manchu: A textbook for Reading Documents (1st edition and a revised 2nd edition, 2010), and way back a chapter on the early Ch’ing (Qing) history in the Cambridge History of China, vol. 9. During my years as Director of the University of Hawaii Office of International Programs and Services I wrote a couple of articles on international topics in the International Education Forum, a publication of International Education Administrators.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Lights & Shadows” is my latest book and reflects my true passion in life. At least some of my inspiration must lie in my genes! Even as a child growing up in small village in Germany I dreamed of traveling to far-away places. Whenever I saw an airplane above (there weren’t many at that time) I wished with all my heart that I could be in it. Later when we were studying English, Latin and French in school, I wanted more and went about looking for a textbook of an Asian language. At the age of nineteen I was on a boat to the United States. But my yearning to learn about and live in other countries didn’t stop there. As part of my graduate studies I lived in Taiwan and Japan, both times in a family setting, so as to maximize my learning the language and understanding the culture.
The idea of writing Lights & Shadows came to me about fifteen years ago when I was already retired. Living in another culture has always been an exciting adventure and a journey of learning and self-discovery for me. So writing the book became a means to share this life-long interest with my readers, hopefully inspiring them to undertake similar journeys, whether physically or in spirit only.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
With a PhD in History and East Asian Languages I obviously like history books. But for at least part of my time I now tend to read various types of books in Spanish in order to keep my Spanish alive. Recently I read (and loved) “El libro de la alegria” (The Book of Joy) by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
What are you reading now?
“A Concise History of Brazil” by Boris Fausto.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Probably not writing another book, but rather becoming active in encouraging young people to spend a year or two living abroad in order to experience what it means to be living in another culture and to get to know who they are. To me that’s a big part of living abroad — more than anything you find out who you are yourself.
Author Websites and Profiles
Gertraude Roth Li Amazon Profile