The Book of Crows

A young girl is kidnapped and taken through the desert to an isolated mountain brothel. Two thousand years later, after a suspicious landslide near Lanzhou, a low-level bureaucrat searches for a missing colleague. A thirteenth-century Franciscan monk, traversing the Silk Road, begins his extraordinary deathbed confession, while five hundred years earlier, a grieving Chinese poet is summoned to the Emperor's palace.

In a series of delicately interlaced stories, Sam Meekings’ richly poetic and gripping second novel follows the journeys of characters whose lives, separated by millennia, are all in some way touched by the mysterious Book of Crows, a mythical book in which the entire history of the world – past, present and future – is written down.

About the author

Sam Meekings is the internationally acclaimed author of The Bestiary, Under Fishbone Clouds and The Book of Crows.

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Why We Like It

  • Gripping and lyrical in equal measure
  • Interwoven storylines span thousands of years of Chinese history
  • If you loved Cloud Atlas, you will love this


‘Meekings’s prose is exemplary, showing a desire not just to honour Chinese culture, but to contribute to it’ – The Herald


‘A book that feels highly original, has appealing characters and is beautifully written. Anyone with an interest in China, or who simply enjoys reading about a variety of well-drawn characters will appreciate this book very much.’ – Book Bag

The Pigeonhole is delighted to be working with Polygon publishers to serialise Sam Meekings’ second novel, The Book of Crows. Find more information about other editions of the book here.

Praise for The Book of Crows

‘In a series of delicately interlaced and utterly spellbinding stories, [Meekings] allows the reader to follow the individuals whose lives, although separated by millennia, are all in some way touched by this mysterious tome.’ – We Love This Book

‘Meekings’ prose is confident and elegant…The Book of Crows is a profound novel, and Meekings demonstrates a greater degree of ambition than some of his contemporaries.’ – The Scottish Review of Books

‘The obvious comparison here is David Mitchell and if Meekings doesn’t always quite match his ventriloquism, he certainly gives each story a distinctive style and knows how to intrigue’ – Jonathan Ruppin’s Top 10 Books of 2011, Foyles


Sam Meekings garnered international acclaim for his debut novel, Under Fishbone Clouds, also set in China. Born in Margate, Sam grew up in Walberton, not far from Chichester, and took an undergraduate degree in Modern History and English Literature at Mansfield College, Oxford University. It was at the end of his Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Edinburgh University, in 2005, that he moved to China to work as a teacher and editor. In 2006 and 2007 Sam was longlisted for the Eric Gregory Award for poets under 30. His debut collection of poetry, The Bestiary, is also published by Polygon. He now lives and teaches in Doha, Qatar.

Praise for Sam’s first novel, Under Fishbone Clouds

‘A powerful and mesmerizing novel, both mythic and intimate. Sam Meekings has a maturity of insight and theme not commonly found in a young writer. This is a masterful accomplishment of imagination, insight, and lyricism.’ – Amy Tan, New York Times bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club

‘Meekings’s accomplished first novel is based on the lives of his Chinese wife's grandparents. An unlikely love story set against the events of the last half-century in China, it’s a tale of terrible suffering that also manages to be a poetic evocation of the country and its people…His exuberance and verve win out. He imbues Under Fishbone Clouds with a magical atmosphere.’ –The New York Times

‘One of the great delights in life is the discovery of a new novelist of obvious talent. Sam Meekings’ debut novel, Under Fishbone Clouds is one such discovery – utterly beautiful and memorable… This is very fine storytelling that handles, with great care, life often at its most raw. Meekings presents us with the gift of a brilliant debut novel.’ – Alexander McCall Smith, New York Times bestselling author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series

‘Meekings is a bangup storyteller, and his easy handling of rich and varied material – rustic splendor, class warfare, profound anguish, drastic social changes – will keep readers rapt. This is a beautifully told love story as well as an absorbing study in Chinese folklore and history.’ – Publishers Weekly, starred review

‘Lavishly imagined and skilfully narrated.’ –The Independent

‘Hails the arrival of an intriguing new talent.’ – Scotland Herald

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