I need your help. I’ll give a copy of my forthcoming book to anyone who can come up with the right subtitle…

This, in a paragraph, is what it’s about:

The many, many ways that we humans have seen, revered, laughed at, championed, exploited, pitied the giant panda as it made its way from obscurity to celebrity in just 140 years. In parallel, I will argue, China’s rise as a global political and economic force has tracked a remarkably similar course. It’ll be a fascinating blend of history, politics, economics and cutting edge science. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

In my pitch to Profile Books (who will be publishing my book next year), I proposed calling it Political Animal, where the political animal is both the panda and modern China. Clever heh?

But my editor emailed me this morning. He gave me feedback on the first chapter I sent in – it’s up to standard, which is nice to know – and took the opportunity to appraise me of the latest thinking in the office regarding the title. “There is a strong feeling,” he wrote, “that the book should be called The Way of the Panda, like your blog,” I’m delighted someone’s reading it. The suggestion is that “political animal” should then appear somewhere in the subtitle. The rationale for this seems to be that it’s pandas that will sell the book and not some smart-arse play on words that takes an entire blog post to explain. On reflection, I think this makes a lot of sense.

So if The Way of the Panda is the main title, I now need to come up with a subtitle that contains the words “political animal”. Here are a few possibilities:

  1. The Way of the Panda: the incredible story of a political animal
  2. The Way of the Panda: the meteoric rise of a political animal
  3. The Way of the Panda: the fraught journey of a political animal
  4. The Way of the Panda: the trials of a political animal
  5. The Way of the Panda: a political animal’s journey from obscurity to global domination
  6. The Way of the Panda: how a political animal took on the world

I don’t really like any of them, but you get the idea. So I now solicit all feedback and suggestions, serious or not. If someone gives me a subtitle that ends up on the jacket, I will sign and send them one of my gratis copies. Wow, now there’s an incentive.

Members of my family or employees of Profile Books need not be excluded from taking part. In fact, I demand that they let their views be known.

Troubleshooting the title