Küng became a novelist after twenty years of reporting from Asia, mostly China and Hong Kong, for newspapers and magazines, including the Economist, International Herald Tribune and Business Week.
Her first novel, a mystery, Left in the Care Of, set a domestic kidnapping against the background of expat and local anxieties on the eve of Beijing's takeover of Hong Kong in 1997. (This thriller was re-published as the second volume of the trilogy The Handover Mysteries in 2011.)
Her next novel, A Visit From Voltaire, was a domestic comedy in which the phantom of Voltaire haunts her farmhouse as she tries to settle into life in Switzerland. It received a nomination for the Orange Prize for Fiction in the U.K. in 2004.
A second domestic satire, her "Geneva novel," Under Their Skin, is a sophisticated love story using the metaphor of surfaces, reflections, skin and scars, to examine what lies underneath appearances. The interplay between the instinctive art of a birthmarked violinist versus the sterility of her doctor's laser clinic, and the determined workaholism of his wife at the World Health Organization in leprosy relief raises uncomfortable questions about conventional morality and the meaning of marriage.
Her latest literary comedy, Love and the Art of War published in 2012, returns readers to the light domestic tone of A Visit From Voltaire; in London's leafy NW1, a middle-aged librarian joins an evening class of bumbling businessmen to study the wiles of the ancient Chinese warlords, with the aim of reconquering, not the corner office, but the love of her life.
Küng's signature in all three books is an interweaving of East and West themes, placing domestic comedy or melodrama in a well-researched historical or political context. Her stories are informed by a Catholic upbringing and a sensitivity to cross-cultural tensions with a mordant sense of humour that makes them highly readable.
As a change of pace, Küng's next project is a trilogy of espionage-adventure stories set against the turbulence of the fourth century Roman Empire on the eve of irreversible upheaval. These will appear later in 2013 and 2014 under a pen name. For more information, add your email address to the Eyes and Ears mailing list: firstname.lastname@example.org (att: Editorial Department.)