"The Rise of the Monkey King" is the first book in the "Journey to the West" series of stories by Jeff Pepper and Xiao Hui Wang. We learn how the little stone monkey is born, becomes king of his troop of monkeys, leaves his home to pursue enlightenment, receives the name Sun Wukong (literally, "ape seeking the void") from his teacher, and returns home to defend his subjects from a ravenous monster.
Sun Wukong, the Handsome Monkey King, is one of most famous characters in Chinese literature and culture. His legendary bravery, his foolish mistakes, his sharp-tongued commentary and his yearning for immortality and spiritual knowledge have inspired hundreds of books, television shows, graphic novels, video games and films.
This book is based on Journey to The West (西游记, xī yóu jì), an epic novel written in the 16th Century by Wu Chen'en. The novel is loosely based on an actual journey by the Buddhist monk Tangseng (called Xuanzang and Sanzang in earlier books), who traveled from the Chinese city of Chang'an westward to India in 629 A.D. and returned 17 years later with priceless knowledge and texts of Buddhism. Over the course of the book the band of travelers face the 81 tribulations that Tangseng had to endure to attain Buddhahood.
All of the stories in this series are all written in simple language suitable for intermediate Chinese learners. Our core vocabulary is the 600 words of HSK-3. All these words are in the glossary at the back of the book. Whenever we introduce a new word or phrase, it's defined in a footnote on the page where it first appears, and it also appears in the glossary.
In the main body of the book, each page of Chinese characters is matched with a facing page of pinyin. This is unusual for Chinese novels but we feel it's important. By including the pinyin, as well as a full English version and glossary at the end, we hope that every reader, no matter what level of mastery they have of the Chinese language, will be able to understand and enjoy the story we tell here.
Audio versions of all books in this series are available on YouTube, on the Imagin8 Press channel.