The Pursuit of Art, Unemcumbered by the Golden Bottle Washer
At a symposium last week, President Xi Jinping met with a group of artists, including the Nobel Laureate Mo Yan, and talked about the value of art in China. According to the official China Youth Online, he said, “For art workers to be successful, they must breathe together with the people, share their fate and feel their feelings, rejoice at their joy, grieve at their grief, and serve the people like a willing ox.”
But only the pursuit of true art, unencumbered by anyone, can help us find the delicate light, beauty, warmth and love that are hidden in the darkness.
Yu Hua: deaths without burial, Chinese version.
The Chinese writer Yu Hua, well known abroad with international hits such as To Live or Brothers is back in Paris for the launch of his latest novel The Seventh Day.
- latest post by Bertrand Mialaret
Please address inquiries or submissions to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (The deadline for inquiries for issue No. 3 is December 31, 2014; the deadline for submissions is January 31, 2015.)
CAL, vol. 1, no. 2 - Contents - see below
By Helen Wang, October 18 '14, 9:22a.m.
Writing Chinese Project - forum now open - all welcome
'Writing Chinese: Authors, Authority and Authorship' is a new project based at the White Rose East Asia Centre in the University of Leeds, UK. Bringing together writers, translators, publishers, literary agents and academics working in the field of contemporary Chinese literature, we aim to foster closer links and dialogue, and to help promote contemporary Chinese writers in the UK.
Chinese Writer, Tackling Tiananmen, Wields ‘Power to Offend’
Now a prominent novelist and a denizen of Beijing literary circles, Ms. Sheng eventually fashioned that turning point in contemporary Chinese history into a stomach-churning, exuberantly written allegory, “Death Fugue,” which recalls Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”
In Books in the Turkish Stand in Frankfurt Book Fair, Turkish columnist Doğan Hızlan reports on Finland's neat marketing ploy at the just-finished 2014 Frankfurt Int'l Book Fair:
I also learned that in Finland there are 2.2 million saunas. They have carried this widespread sauna culture to the book fair. Reading sessions are being held in public saunas in Frankfurt. A Finnish author could bust into any sauna . . .
By Bruce Humes, October 12 '14, 8:58p.m.
Exposing an authoritarian state with explicit sex in fiction: Chen Xiwo in The Independent
Explicit sex in storytelling has often been mistaken for pornography – and not just in China. We have only to think of the Marquis de Sade’s imprisonment, or the Penguin trial of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In the foreword of my tattered copy of Lady Chatterley, Doris Lessing reminds us that writing about sex is never just about the act but about “all the power-play between the genders”. Arifa Akbar
So it’s been a while since we made any sort of public announcements
about Pathlight magazine, though in fact production has continued
apace. In fact, we’ve got two rather large bits of news.
Two issues have gone online more or less at once! How’s that for efficiency. The first is themed around minority/ethnic writers, and features writing by and about China’s ethnic groups. The theme of the second is gender – we started out thinking of it as a women’s issue, but it got a little bit bigger than that. Take a look, and tell us what you think!
Both issues are available as digital downloads on both Amazon and iTunes – we’re experimenting with a lower price, so if you were previously balking at $6.99, see how $3.99 strikes you.
The other bit of news is that we’ve had a changing of the guard: after two years and nine issues of Pathlight, Alice Xin Liu is stepping down as managing editor, to be replaced by Dave Haysom, of Spitting Dog fame, and Karmia Olutade, a superlative translator of poetry, and now poetry editor. Thanks and best wishes to Alice, and welcome to the new crew! As usual, you can reach us with suggestions or submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for the next issue, themed around the re-writing of myth and
history, early next month.
By Eric Abrahamsen, October 6 '14, 3:15a.m.
There will be more to say about the Chinese-English Literary Translation Training Course over the next few days, but for now I leave you with an image of Jonathan Rechtman and Austin Woerner hard at work.
It's a brutal, thankless job.
By Eric Abrahamsen, September 28 '14, 6:04a.m.
Chu T’ien-wen wins 2015 Newman Prize
NORMAN, OK – An international jury has selected the Taiwanese novelist and screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen (朱天文) as the winner of the fourth Newman Prize for Chinese Literature. She is the first female Newman laureate. Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for U.S.-China Issues, the Newman Prize is awarded biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement in prose or poetry that best captures the human condition, and is conferred solely on the basis of literary merit. Any living author writing in Chinese is eligible. A jury of five distinguished literary experts nominated the five candidates last spring and selected the winner in a transparent voting process on September 17, 2014.
The Untranslatables - by Lucas Klein
The following contribution from Lucas Klein is our first post in a blog series we’re calling “The Untranslatables.” Klein was awarded the Lucien Stryk Prize in 2013 for his translation of Xi Chuan’s Notes On the Mosquito: Selected Poems, which he discusses here...
Guess Who Is Doing Literary Translation?
Best-selling author Murakami Haruki, that's who.
In Outcast of the Japanese Literary World, we learn that he is currently translating into Japanese a work by Norwegian novelist Dag Solstad. But in the past he has also translated writing by Raymond Carver and others.
Murakami obviously doesn't do it for the $$. A model for upcoming Chinese writers, more of whom have decent English (compared to older authors)?
Crowdfunding Translations of Chinese Sci-Fi
A project looking to translate award-winning sci-fi from Chinese writers spearheads this week's look at crowdfunding, but that's not all - there's a short movie about Bears learning to use fire, a card game about the Periodic table and a lot more.
Chinese Arts and Letters, a literary and academic journal, solicits
English-language contributions for issue No. 3. Texts not exceeding
10,000 words will be considered, consisting of translations of
contemporary Chinese-language literature in any genre, essays on the
Chinese arts and letters of any era, and creative writing in any
genre about China. Translated texts or inquiries for translations
must also submit the original Chinese text, and all translations will
be reviewed for accuracy and style. Payment for contributions is 0.80
RMB per word (contributions) or per Chinese character (translation),
before tax. Texts with a focus on Jiangsu may be given special
Please address inquiries or submissions to the editors at
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org The
deadline for inquiries for issue No. 3 is December 31, 2014; the
deadline for submissions is January 31, 2015.
By Eric Abrahamsen, September 15 '14, 2:28a.m.
When you have trouble moving product overseas -- and cash in your pocket -- you can always call on a classic strategy: take control of the distribution channels.
There are four traditional ways to do so: set up your own local firm; invest in a local firm; merge your firm with a local firm; or simply acquire an existing player in that market which owns a respected brand name.
Is China getting ready to do so in the publishing field, as part of its soft power push?
By Bruce Humes, September 14 '14, 8:35p.m.
Children's Books in China: A Q&A with Xiaoyan Huang
Xiaoyan Huang is editorial specialist for children’s books at dangdang.com, China’s leading online shopping service provider, and the country’s top online children’s bookseller. She has worked in the Chinese book market for more than 20 years, for HarperCollins China, Amazon China, Macmillan China, and Hachette China.
Copied from Writing Chinese website:
Saturday November 1st, 2014. Public talk @11am – 1pm. Translation masterclass@ 2pm – 5pm. Venue to be announced (University of Leeds)
For our morning event, which is open to the general public (no registration required), author Yan Ge and her translator Nicky Harman will be talking about their work together. Yan Ge’s novella White Horse, translated by Nicky, will be released in October by Hope Road Publishing. And for a taster of more of Yan Ge’s work and why Nicky recommends it so highly, have a look at this recent article in Words Without Borders.
Our afternoon event is a literary translation masterclass, led by the author and her translator, and is open to anyone interested in the translation of contemporary Chinese fiction into English.
The masterclass is free but registration is required. If you’d like to attend, please email us at email@example.com. We will then email all attendees in advance with the text that we’ll be translating on the day.
We’re also pleased to announce that the masterclass will be followed by the launch of the Bai Meigui Literary Translation Competition. More details to follow soon!
By Helen Wang, September 8 '14, 2:26p.m.
Now for "Selective Translation"
On August 25, the Paper posted a Chinese translation of London-based magazine the Economist's August 23 cover article, "What China Wants." The Economist feature proffered several recommendations for how the United States can accommodate China's economic and military rise without forfeiting U.S. interests in Asia. But the abridged Chinese translation left out several key passages . . .
China Fiction Book Club (Twitter @cfbcuk) is now on Goodreads.com. We are on their lists - Listopia - and can be found by typing in any of a number of keywords e.g. Chinese + translated + fiction. The point of it is to get an open-access list of published translations onto Goodreads. So... get posting, people! You can also vote for books already listed (Helen and I put up 20 or so, just to get the list started) if you want.
By Nicky Harman, September 3 '14, 11:07a.m.
If I were a political cartoonist, of the WWII-era ilk where they label
everything in the cartoon so the point gets across better, I would
draw a cartoon to illustrate China’s “Going Out,” the policy which is
meant to bring Chinese culture to the rest of the world, and it would
look something like this:
A patch of land representing China; in the center stands The Leader
(it says that on his chest). He gazes off into the distance, one hand
pointing outwards in the best 指点江山 style, and the words “Going Out
Policy” are written on that sleeve. The other hand is loading
sumptuous food onto crescent tables to either side of him. The food
could be labeled “Government Budget,” but that should be
self-explanatory. Seated around the outside of the tables are a host
of people we could label “Government Functionaries,” until I think of
The functionaries are shoveling food into their mouths, their gazes
fixed in rapt devotion upon The Leader. They’ve all scootched
backwards until their rear ends hang out over the border of China, and
they’re saying things to The Leader like: “We have ‘Gone Out,’ and it
is wonderful!,” and, “The foreigners are all amazed!”
Meanwhile, a few big-nosed foreigners (in berets and cowboy hats!) are
standing around the outside of the border, looking at this line of
plumber’s cracks, and asking each other, “What on earth are they
trying to tell us?”
If only I could draw…
By Eric Abrahamsen, September 3 '14, 12:18a.m.
Chinese science fiction to be a feature of Clarkesworld
Clarkesworld has entered into an agreement with Storycom International Culture Communication Co., Ltd. to showcase a short story originally published in Chinese in every issue. Each month, an all-star team of professionals intricately familiar with Chinese short fiction will be recommending stories for this special feature and I’ll select which ones get translated and published in each issue. This team includes: Liu Cixin, Yao Haijun, Zhang Zhilu, Wu Yan, and Ken Liu.
Chen Xiwo's blog at the Free Word Centre (UK)
Dancing with shackles on...
Chen Xiwo is one of China's most outspoken, and most censored, novelists. He's also our new online writer in residence. Over the next few months he'll be posting about writing under the shadow of censorship, with the help of our former translator in residence, Nicky Harman.
Translation Notes: A Tabby-cat’s Tale (Han Dong/Nicky Harman)
It wasn't easy to find a publisher. I once tried, as an exercise, to shorten A Tabby-cat’s Tale to a length more acceptable to a western literary magazine. It simply went flat. I ditched my attempt without even submitting it, and went back to the current, full, version.
That wasn’t so hard after all – the CWA has given us the list of the
25 translation fund recipients for the last round of funding. What we
don’t know are the details of translator/publisher (though in many
cases you can guess), or how much funding will actually be supplied.
But still, it’s an interesting list – see it below, after the jump.
In the meantime, the deadline is nearly up for the next round of
funding for both the general CWA program, and its ethnic-minority
fiction funding program. The ethnic-minority funding applications will
be reviewed next month, and the contemporary fiction applications the
month after, so time is short. If you’ve got all the necessary
materials on hand (and the publishing contract is already signed), you
can first send a digital version of the application to the Writers
Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Eric Abrahamsen, August 29 '14, 1:41a.m.
7 Literary Translators on their Craft
Brief answers -- in Chinese -- to questions by 7 translators working into or out of Chinese, including Chinese-English, Chinese-French, Chinese-Korean, children's literature, etc.
Canaan Morse Wins Susan Sontag Prize for Ge Fei Translation
Canaan Morse is a literary translator and editor whose work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Chinese Literature Today, Words and The World, Pathlight: New Chinese Writing, Chutzpah!, and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. A recent graduate of Peking University's Chinese department with an M.A. in Classical Chinese Literature, he lived in Beijing for six years where he co-founded the literary quarterly Pathlight: New Chinese Writing. His translation of Ge Fei's The Invisibility Cloak is due for publication by New York Review of Books in 2015.
New in Chinese: “The Chilli Bean Paste Clan” by YAN Ge
The latest in "Dispatches" from Words Without Borders. By Nicky Harman:
You might imagine that I thought long and hard in choosing my best untranslated book, because China has so many writers and so little of their work reaches the West, at least in English. But I plumped without any hesitation for Yan Ge’s The Chilli Bean Paste Clan. (The title in Chinese is 《我们家》Our Family.)
Towards the end of last year, the China Writers Association announced the inception of two new literary translation funds, one for general fiction, and the other specifically for minority fiction. Many applications were submitted, and then we all commenced to wait. And wait, and…
We started to suspect that the whole thing had foundered on some hidden bureaucratic sandbar, but just recently we heard that the program is, in fact, still under way – not only that, the CWA is actually ready to announce its first round of winners. Not announce, exactly: the winners will be contacted on the down-low. We're trying to convince them that publicizing the full list is in everyone's best interest, but it's not clear if that argument will take.
If you applied for funding, and have been chosen, expect to get that news "soon". The translators among you will know how to translate that "soon" into English. You publishers can probably also figure it out.
If you applied and didn't get it… you may never know! Unless we can talk them into publicizing the list.
By Eric Abrahamsen, August 25 '14, 6:30a.m.
Winners of the "2013 China International Translation Contest," co-hosted by the State Council Information Office, Chinese Writer Association and the China International Publishing Group, have been announced. According to 国际翻译大赛, the organizing committee provided 30 pieces of contemporary Chinese short stories from which to choose, and 1,006 renditions were received from over 30 countries in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.
By Bruce Humes, August 24 '14, 3:06p.m.
Sinologists' Seminar on Literature and Translation
The seminar, held by the Chinese Writers Association, gathered some 70 Sinologists, academics who specialize in China, from all over the world to "parse Chinese stories" with a dozen Chinese authors, including Mo Yan and Mai Jia. (With a great photo!)
The Lu Xun Prize - questions of credibility
BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- China's prestigious Lu Xun Literature Prize has come under fire after its most recent award winner for poetry was denounced as a "shame on poetry."
Beijing Int'l Book Fair: Evening Literary Events
Chinese authors Xu Zechen and Wang Gang, Russian poet Maxim Amelia, Chinese and Swedish illustrators, Chinese translator Huang Liaoyu, and more, including venue addresses in Chinese and English . . .
The deadline for the CELT translation training course has been extended to August 18 (2014), since (for reasons I personally cannot fathom) the number of applicants to date has amounted to something less than a tidal wave.
I want to emphasize what a worthwhile thing this is: personally, the two courses I attended were not only the most helpful things I've done for my development as a translator, they were also instrumental in the solidification of a society of C-E literary translators, a social circle or support group, a mafia even. And needless to say they were a hell of a lot of fun. So do it, already!
See below, and after the jump, for more details:
The Chinese English Literary Translation course will run from 22nd to 27th September 2014 in the Yellow Mountains. The course will offer a mix of literary translation and creative writing workshops, with guest speakers.
By Eric Abrahamsen, August 12 '14, 6:48a.m.
Aug 21 Update: Qingdao to Host Translation Conference in Run-up to Beijing Int’l Book Fair
. . . 26 international Sinologists and translators will be taking part from Austria, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the U.S. They include the (in)famous German Sinologist Wolfgang Kubin, Ezra Vogel (author, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China), Nicoletta Pesaro (Italian translator of Ma Jian and Yu Hua), Turkey’s Giray Fidan (author, Ottoman Firearms and Ottomans in China during the Kanuni Era) . . .
Aug 21: just learned that authors Chi Zijian, Wang Gang, Bi Feiyu and Zhang Wei will also be taking part in several forums, as well as literary agent Toby Eady
[Note: China-based translators and publishing professionals welcome to attend]
China Launches Premier Kazakh Literary Competition
Winners will be handsomely rewarded: 1 grand prize winner, 120,000 yuan (US$19,500); and 30,000 yuan (US$4,875) each for 4 winners in original fiction/poetry, 2 winners in the translation category, and 2 “promising new writers" under 40 . . .
The Interbellum Manhua Boom
Between World War I and World II, Republican era Shanghai experienced a boom in manhua--Chinese cartoon magazines--that has yet to be matched even today.
9 Oct - "Writing Chinese" launch - Chen Xiwo in Leeds
Writing Chinese Launch – Chen Xiwo 陈希我 in Leeds
October 9th, 2014 @4.30 pm – 6.00 pm. Venue to be announced
We’re delighted to be joined by author Chen Xiwo, translator Nicky Harman, and Make-Do Publishing’s Harvey Thomlinson for the official launch of ‘Writing Chinese’. Chen will be reading from his new collection The Book of Sins (冒犯书), which will be followed by a talk and discussion by Chen, Nicky and Harvey.
Extract: “Back Quarters at Number 7” by Manchu Writer Ye Guangqin
Grandpa Zhao’s narration was forever populated with fairy foxes, Siberian weasel spirits, and serpents. We were terribly afraid of these creatures, and all of them were inseparable from Number 7’s courtyard. It seemed behind that small gate were hidden innumerable deadly demons:
It was an inauspicious residence. No one would rent or buy it. In 1900, during the reign of Qing Emperor Guangxu, the Eight Allied Armies took the capital, and the retinues of the two palaces – the Emperor’s and the Empress Dowager’s – departed in great haste with Their Highnesses . . .
The notorious – nay, infamous – Chinese-English Literary Translation course is coming around for its third incarnation this coming September (2014). For five days, translators and writers will gather in Huangshan to pick each other's brains, watch each other work, and try to teach each other a little something. Be part of the event that has launched so many illustrious translation careers! Or at least, introduced some fairly interesting people to one another.
This time, the course is being run by the Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP), in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT), and SAPPRFT.
The course will be held this fall, September 22 to 27. The application deadline is August 10: be sure to send your completed application form and a scan of your passport to email@example.com before then. Attendance free, but you'll have to get yourself there, and also pay for room and board (I had this wrong intially, my apologies!).
The Chinese-to-English writers and workshop leaders are:
- Li Juan, 李娟, led by Andrea Lingenfelter
- Li Pingyi, 李平易, led by Bonnie McDougall
- A Yi, 阿乙, led by Eric Abrahamsen
For more information about the course, you can download the full information sheet.
By Eric Abrahamsen, July 21 '14, 4:30a.m.