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The Worm Hole Podcast Episode 62: Grace D Li (Portrait Of A Thief)

Charlie and Grace D Li (Portrait Of A Thief) discuss Chinese American identity, art theft and repatriation, and bonkers fun fictional heists.

Please note that there are spoilers throughout the episode.

The Sackler Museum
The real thefts
The Old Summer Palace
The Second Opium War looting
Information (from last year) about the Netflix deal

Release details: recorded 5th May 2022; published 13th June 2022

Grace’s social media: Website || Twitter || Instagram

You can contact the show at

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Show notes:

Question Index
Book Purchasing Links
Photo Credit Line

Question Index

00:52 How do you combine your medical studies with your writing?
02:24 You’re a museum tour guide?…
03:51 [Reading]
08:15 Can you tell us about the real stories behind your heists?
10:44 Are you able to give us a brief history the palace and the original looting?
12:12 Can you tell us what’s currently happening in terms of art that’s been given back, the changes that have happened since the heist that you’ve fictionalised?
13:28 How have your own feelings of identity progressed?
14:53 Can you talk about your characters in terms of identity, how you created them and so on?
16:03 You give each character their own narrative. Was this always the plan?
16:46 Are you able to talk about the theme of loss in this context?
18:29 Why a heist to explore identity?
19:37 You mention the pandemic – where in our current time does the novel fit?
20:53 Was there a reason for the different levels of digital (and so forth) security in the book?
22:29 Why have Daniel’s father be so high up in the FBI; why was his role important?
25:42 Do you have a favourite character?
27:11 The romances – to you as the writer, how did they help the stories messages and topics come to the fore, etc?
30:37 The ending – was it always going to be this different heist?
32:36 Did you ever considered having more ‘full’ heists than you did?
34:38 Could the characters have found who they were without the heists?
35:44 Has there been progress with the Netflix purchase?
36:41 What’s next?

Purchasing Links
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Coming soon

Photograph used with the permission of the author. Credit: Yi Li.


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