25 January 2015

A Novel Exploration of Inequality

Kuan’s Wonderland tells the story of a ten-year old boy being snatched from home and taken to a bizarre world, where he is suspected of being an enemy of the state. As hope of escape begins to fade, he tries to adapt to his new life only to discover the true nightmare awaiting him.

Suitable for anyone aged 14/15 (KS4/Year 10) upwards, Kuan’s Wonderland has been widely acclaimed as a fantasy adventure & political fable, as well as a novel resource to help explore problems of inequality and exploitation:

Kate Pickett (Director, Equality Trust; & co-author of 'The Spirit Level: why more equal societies almost always do better'):
Kuan’s Wonderland is a didactic novel that doesn’t hesitate to entertain the reader. It shows that political theorists can engage a wider public with an imaginative medium such as popular fiction without losing intellectual force. The Equality Trust welcomes this opportunity to work with Henry Tam with the publication of the learning resource for his novel as part of our Young Person’s Guide to Inequality.”

Julie Thorpe (Head of School & Youth Programmes, the Co-operative College):
"All the evidence points to the fact that more equal societies are happier places and yet the country we live in remains one of the least egalitarian and most divided in the world. The co-operative movement is committed to creating social institutions and enterprises where all members have an equal right and opportunity to participate and have their voices heard. It is vital that young people understand the problems of power inequality if we are to bring about change and Kuan's Wonderland offers a unique, imaginative, way of introducing them to the issue. We highly recommend it!"

Rachel Roberts (Director, Phoenix Education Trust; & Supporter, Student Voice):
“In our experience of working in schools we see young people are highly concerned with issues of justice, respect and equality. We also realise the value of empowering young people to explore these topics in an open way which captures their imaginations, awakens their curiosity and allows to develop their learning and understanding by following their own motivation. Kuan’s Wonderland and the resource guide which accompanies it enables just this. It is an innovative and valuable way of engaging young people to explore issues surrounding equality and democracy in a way which speaks to them.”

Nicolette Burford (Director, Documentary Film-Makers Cooperative; & Producer/Director, ‘No Room for Manoeuvre’):
Kuan's Wonderland is a mesmerizing novel. It makes the imagination spring to life with amazing visions of strange beings and places. Readers young and old will be intrigued by the story and both teachers and students are going to have much to talk about and around it. There are very few books that offer so complex yet so clear and captivating a plot that mirrors the excesses, impunity, treachery and manipulativeness with which governments and oppressive regimes amass and abuse power to further the selfish interests of a small minority. The learning resource developed by the novelist and the Equality Trust will clearly be of great value to young people and schools.”

Pat Conaty (Fellow, New Economics Foundation; & co-author of 'The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy'):
“There is ample evidence that cooperative forms of interaction, in business as well as in social relations more generally, work much better than the top-down approach which is regrettably still the norm in our economy. To change the prevailing mindset we need to explore new ways to engage people of all ages in thinking about why mutuality and equality are vital to our wellbeing. The Equality Trust and Cambridge University are leading the way in showing how this can be done with Henry Tam’s novel, Kuan’s Wonderland – a thought-provoking political fable, and the accompanying learning resource, ‘A Novel Exploration of Inequality’.”

More details about the 'Novel Exploration of Inequality' project are available from: The Equality Trust.