Read Paper Republic
The crimson mothers live in a crimson sea. We, island-like, still live on the city’s island. In January’s cold blast, we lean out of our windows. Quarter past three in the afternoon, and everyone in the street has a coating of frost on their lips. If they open their mouths even a little, they cannot close them.
‘Everyone has become a silent, broken bridge. A musician stands on every bridge, eyes lowered, surrounded by young female flesh, his...
New anti-corruption novels
Two new anti-corruption novels have reignited people's passion for the genre. A Camp by Tao Chun and The Song is Over, but Audiences Are Still There by Zhou Daxin both target corruptions within the military, a topic that few works have approached before.
Tripping the Light Fantastic: An Interview with Pan Haitian
What do you think it really means to be “Chinese?” How is it different from being, say, “American?”
Obviously, it’s more than just cheongsam dresses, the limestone karst scenery of Guilin, the canal cities of the Yangtze delta like Wuzhen, conical hats, Lao-tzu and the Tao Te Ching, kung fu and all these symbols. Because Americans use the same symbols when they film movies like Transformers or Mission Impossible in Shanghai.
As I understand it, to be Chinese you have to include the contemporary ideology of China today—Chinese people’s way of thinking, their philosophical outlook on life, their way of looking at the world. More specifically, it appears in the choices that characters make in a work, in their attitude towards new things. It can affect the entire thrust of a story.
Unconventional Love - Taiwan writer sparks discussion on same-sex relationships
...the recent popular seminars held for Taiwan writer Chen Xue's two books [Lovers in the Maze and Lessons in Love] just published in the Chinese mainland that delve into her experiences in same-sex relationships. Each seminar has been so packed that many people have been forced to crowd outside the entrances to try and listen in on these talks that start off discussing her books and love in general, but eventually turn to the topic of same-sex relationships.
Ken Liu on "The Grace of Kings" and Silk Punk
“I wanted to create a new world that draws inspiration clearly from East Asia, but isn’t China. That’s the only way I can let people see the story anew. I’m very interested in foundational narratives. Foundational narratives in the West are things like the Iliad and the Odyssey, Beowulf, Paradise Lost. These are very important epic stories which become the foundation on which new works comment and elaborate and are in conversation with. In the Chinese literary tradition, the same role is played by stories like Romance of the Three Kingdoms or the Chu-Han Contention, which is a source for The Grace of Kings. But I didn’t want to retell a story, rather I wanted to reimagine this very old important foundation narrative of the Chinese literary tradition in a brand new literary framework that I constructed myself out of my status as inheritor of both Western and Chinese literary traditions.”
Create ‘Chinese Culture’ Ebooks
From the early 1960,s until he passed away in 2015, William Dolby beaverishly translated and researched Classical Chinese drama, poetry and literature, and above and beyond his world reneowned work of A History of Chinese Drama he silently produced an unknown mountain of superb works titled the "Chinese Culture Series".
On Translations - by Nick Admussen
Guest editing the poetry in this issue, and selecting a lot of translation for it, hasn't really given me any insight into which of those theories are right and which are wrong — each seems like it has its own appropriate place and time, with none deserving endless primacy. What I realized instead was about the feeling, the sensation of translating contemporary literature — something that’s related to the sensation of conversation.
Profile of Octogenarian Orochen: Folk Song Singer, Folk Tale and Dictionary Compiler
Among one of the first batches of young Orochen (鄂伦春, aka Oroqen) chosen to receive a formal Chinese-language education in Zhalantun in 1948, E’erdenggua (额尔登挂) was just 17 at the time. She had never been outside her village on the banks of Chuo’er River (绰尔河畔) in Inner Mongolia, and didn’t speak a word of Chinese. Now 84, she was profiled recently in Zhongguo Minzu Bao (老人的鄂伦春文化情缘) . . .
Qian Zhongshu - an antidote to the idea of absolute "difference" between cultural worlds
By Kerry Brown. "This exceptionalism clearly carries dangers of its own. And a stupendous antidote to it can be found by paying attention to the figure who, of all those in the 20th century with a claim to being deeply versed in both "traditionally European" and "traditionally Chinese" cultures, surely has the best claim of all: Qian Zhongshu."
Eric Abrahamsen on "The Real Censors of China"
For years Chinese authors in China have been writing books that get banned, with no dramatic repercussions. Yan Lianke’s examinations of the cult of Mao and tragic episodes from China’s Communist history are given a wide berth by publishers on the mainland, appearing in Taiwan and Hong Kong instead. But his novels do get published here, he goes about unmolested, and he has a prestigious position at one of China’s best universities. Sheng Keyi and Chan Koonchung have both written fiction touching on the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown without, by their own accounts, so much as a slap on the wrist.
China’s Launches Intangible Cultural Heritage Encyclopedia
China unveiled its premier Encyclopedia of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage (中国非物质文化遗产, 史诗卷) on June 12, reports China Daily. This is the first of three volumes, and is dedicated to three great oral epics of the Tibetans, Mongols and Kyrgyz, respectively: King Gesar, Jangar and Manas . . .
Silk Road Economic Belt: Translators to Get their Slice of the Pie
Representatives of five of China’s northwestern provinces met June 15 in Xining to discuss how to benefit from the “Silk Road Fragrant Book Project” (丝路书香工程). This is a global publishing initiative, given the stamp of approval by China’s Ministry of Propaganda, which is designed to stimulate the mutual translation and publication of great literary, historical and cultural works that are grounded in the cultures of countries along the ancient Silk Road . . .
*The Chinese Political Novel* by Catherine Vance Yeh - review
Winners of the 2014 CALA (Chinese American Librarians Association) Best Books Awards
Winners include Decoded by Mai Jia (tr Olivia Milburn and Christopher Payne) and The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin (tr Ken Liu)
Inner Mongolian Artists Speak Up as Mining and Logging Encroach on Traditional Grazing Lands
I suspect that some of you out there have, from time to time,
wondered: “but what do you people at Paper Republic actually do all
day long? Surely you can’t survive by snarky literary judgments alone?
Also, can’t you make your website look a little less ’My First HTML’?”
I am here with a resolution to one of your questions, at least: what
we do all day is to get Chinese literature into English, and though
actual readable texts have been in scant supply on the site, that will
change starting a week from today. June 18th we’ll be launching
something called “Read Paper Republic”, where we’ll present one
complete free-to-view short story, essay, or poem on the site itself,
both as a webpage and a download, once a week.
We’ll be kicking off with an original translation of a story by A Yi,
translated by Michelle Deeter. Our editorial team consists of Dave
Haysom here in Beijing and Nicky Harman and Helen Wang in the UK.
By Eric Abrahamsen, June 12 '15, 1:32a.m.
Intellectual intervention and English anthologies of Chinese literature of the 1980s
By Red Chan.
Abstract: This article portrays contemporary Chinese literature in English through the lens of literary anthologies. It outlines how the corpus of about 60 English anthologies of contemporary Chinese literary works can be understood collectively in a context of social change, whereas the yardstick of literary assessment follows very much a traditionalist approach that literature should reflect social truths. By addressing particular anthologists’ discourse of their compilation, this paper argues that the first badge of Chinese–English translation was produced more for ideological ends than aesthetic purposes. Translation was used more as a functional tool that propagates the anthologist’s or the publisher’s ideological agenda. It was rather unusual to see that non-literary experts were actively producing literary translations as a gateway to understand China. Whilst the wholesale presentation of Chinese authors in the post-Mao era through anthologies does create a quantitative presence in English, it is unclear whether such anthologies have made a significant impact on extending the Anglophone readers’ interest in (contemporary) Chinese literature.
Dreamers and Nightmares: Political novels by Wang Lixiong and Chan Koonchung
By Chaohua Wang
Abstract: Wang Lixiong’s Yellow Peril(1991) represents the return of political fiction of the future not seen in China for decades. Chan Koonchung’s The Fat Years (2009) brings the imagination to a full dystopian vision. Reading the two novels side by side, this paper argues that Chinese fiction of the future in the early 1990s responded to the country’s struggle for direction when the bloody crackdown of the Tiananmen protest wiped out collective idealism in society. In the twenty-first century, such fiction is written in response to China’s rapid rise as one of the world’s superpowers, bringing to domestic society a seemingly stabilised order that has deprived it of intellectual vision.
Chinese Literature and the Child: Children and Childhood in Late-Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction
This book is an ambitious study of images of children in Chinese literature from the 1980s and 1990s. Analyzing miscellaneous literary works, Kate Foster argues cogently that the image of the child plays a very important role in (transformations of adult identity in the late 20th century. It should be noted that the texts studied were written mainly for adults, not for children; this book is not about childrens literature, but rather about the child image in adult literature...
On Chinese Science Fiction and Reading Internationally
Last year I found myself at an International Publishing Conference in Central, Hong Kong. I used my limited Chinese to talk to a woman who used her limited English about book recommendations. We knocked each other out with one question: What should I read that was written in your country?
Role of the "Culture Worker" in Today's China?
After noting that “People use the term ‘dissident writer’ in a very confused way,” Eric Abrahamsen goes on to say (as paraphrased in Christopher Beam’s New Yorker article) that “Dissidents like Woeser, Tohti, and Liu Xiaobo, he added, are jailed for their political activities, not their creative writing.”
A license to thrill? Spy novelists hit pay dirt in China
(by Jemimah Steinfeld, for CNN, June 10, 2015)
Let's Have a Talk - SF story by Xia Jia in *Nature*
"Let's have a talk" by Xia Jia in Nature 522, 122 (04 June 2015)
Xia Jia is a sci-fi writer in China. Her fiction has appeared in English translation in venues such as Clarkesworld and The Year's Best SF. This is her first story written in English and was edited by Ken Liu, a translator and speculative-fiction author whose works have appeared in F&SF, Asimov's, Tor.com and other venues.
Shelly Bryant talks about Actors and Literary Translators, the Great Imitators
Shelly Bryant argues that literary translators need the same skills as actors who imitate the voices and mannerisms of others.
China at the BEA: from The New Yorker
The problem, from what I could tell, was that publishers didn’t seem to know what American readers wanted. After the opening ceremony, the two Chinese officials, Wu and Cui, gave deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman a tour of the pavilion, showing him around the display shelves while a gaggle of Chinese media trailed behind. They paused to point out such books as Xi’s autobiography (largely a collection of speeches), an academic work called “Why and How the CPC Works in China,” and another book, titled “Confessions of Japanese War Criminals for Carrying Out Aggressions Against China.” The American nodded politely. If anyone present saw a connection between the overtly propagandistic nature of the books being promoted and disappointing sales outside the mainland, they didn’t let on, but the tour did seem to suggest that suppressing independent voices wasn’t just bad for writers, but bad for business.
Writing Chinese Symposium, Leeds, UK, 2-4 July
With guest authors Dorothy Tse and Murong Xuecun. See website for details.
"Ten-Mile Peach Blossom of Three Lifetimes" meets Spiderman 2
Roughly translated as "Ten-Mile Peach Blossom of Three Lifetimes," the film is an adaptation of an online fantasy novel that revolves around the complicated world and romance of a female fox spirit who is 140,000 years old and a male black dragon spirit who is 50,000 years old. Since its release on one of China's biggest literature websites in 2008, the novel has reached an overwhelming popularity among young girls.
[Sansheng Sanshi Shili Taohua - by Tangqi Gongzi]
Chinese literature goes global (it's a small world)
China will have to get used to that small scale abroad; back home their numbers are enviable. Commercial Press’s literature subsidiary had 400 new titles last year alone. Every book by their No. 1 author, Jia Pingwa, garners sales in excess of 400,000 copies, while Cao Wenxuan’s series of kids’ books have sold eight million copies. Cao’s Bronze and Sunflower, published this year will be his first in English. (A bestseller in Canada can be somewhere north of 5,000 copies.)
Featuring authors Ye Zhaoyan, Qian Zhongshu, Ding Jie, Xu Zechen, Pang Yuliang, Tao Wenyu and Han Dong.
By Helen Wang, June 5 '15, 10:18a.m.
BEA 2015: Children's and YA Publishing in China
In brief opening remarks, Li Yan explained his interest in promoting Chinese culture abroad, asserted how big and successful Chinese publishing houses are, and that children’s publishing is a priority. The majority of the time went to Patricia Giff and Cao Wenxuan.
‘Censorship Breeds Prejudice in the Long Run’
What is it like to grapple with Chinese state censorship? On May 29, Foreign Policy sat down with Bao Pu, Guo Xiaolu, and Hao Qun, better known by his pen name Murong Xuecun, in FP‘s Washington, D.C. office. Bao Pu is the founder of New Century Press, a Hong Kong publisher, and a political commentator and activist. Guo Xiaolu is a novelist and filmmaker in the U.K. Murong Xuecun is a Beijing-based author who has spoken and written about the Chinese censorship regime. (The three were in town as part of a trip organized by the New York-based PEN American Center focused on freedom of speech in China.)
Creative Asia: 6 authors writing in Chinese who you might want to pay attention to
Who will be the influential voices of the Chinese literary world this year? CREATIVE ASIA asks Dave Haysom, joint managing editor of Beijing-based literary magazine Pathlight, which authors he thinks we should be reading.
A Yi, Cao Wenxuan, Ge Fei, Sun Yisheng, Wu Ming-yi and Yan Ge
Chinese Writers and Chinese Reality: An Inteview with Liu Zhenyun
Agenting In China: An agent explores the changing Chinese book market
(By Marysia Juszczakiewicz, of Peony):
The goal when looking for material in China is the same as in the West: to find stories of universal appeal. But there are issues of translation to contend with as well. Chinese is a powerfully visual written language, and the conventions of narrative structure and characterisation differ greatly from the West, so finding stories that bridge that cultural gap take a little more digging. ... Currently, the success of a Chinese novel is determined by the number of translation rights sold, rather than the number of copies sold in English.
One-Size-Fits-All Qualification Exam for China Publishing Professionals Militates Against Minorities
Guardian's Beijing Correspondent "Zaijian, China" Letter
I don’t miss China’s smog and dust; still less the injustices that I witnessed. But I loved the energy, the curiosity and friendliness of strangers, and the knowledge I lapped up on everything from Maoist model operas to dinosaurs. I miss cold noodles, scalding xiao long bao soup dumplings and fresh tanghulu (a superior take on toffee apples). At least Laoganma’s addictive chilli black bean sauce is available in the UK. I’ll miss strolling down the hutongs on summer days, skating on frozen lakes in winter, and watching the sun rise over a snow-dusted, crumbling stretch of the Great Wall after a long scrabble uphill through the darkness. China’s rich literary history remains easily accessible, as does the endless linguistic inventiveness and subversive wit of internet users, but its other cultural treasures are now a long-haul flight away: Sichuan’s lush valleys, Gansu’s desert, and Beijing’s ginkgo trees and beautiful azure-winged magpies. And no, new year will not be the same without those free firework displays.
Booksigning at BookExpo America: Chinese Authors Get the Cold Shoulder Treatment
Chinese Authors and Literature Spotlighted in Week of Events During BookExpo America
As part of the 2015 BookExpo America's Global Market Forum initiative, China's Guest of Honor program, will showcase more than 20 of China's best-known poets and authors in more than a dozen events, co-organized by Paper Republic, at the BEA and around New York City. From poetry readings, to literary exchanges with New York writers, to screenings of films adapted from Chinese fiction, the event lineup promises front-row exposure to the best of China's literary culture. During BEA, from May 27 to 30, visitors will be able to see established names such as Su Tong (Raise the Red Lantern) and Mai Jia (Decoded), alongside up-and-coming writers like writers like A Yi (A Perfect Crime).
China Refutes Designation as Sole Supplier of Vietnam’s “Obscene” Romantic Novels in Translation
. . . post-1949 China has a long history of rooting out “spiritual pollution” in the arts. Could it be guilty of recycling its toxic products south of the border?
Leading Chinese eBook Publishers to Receive Achievement Awards at BookExpo America
NEW YORK, NY, May 27, 2015 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- BookExpo America (Jacob Javits Center) - At the largest publishing event in North America, BookExpo America (BEA), OverDrive will host a reception and present the Blue Sky Awards to publishers with top selling Chinese language adult and children's eBooks. Hundreds of US, Canadian and international public libraries and schools now offer their Chinese readers instant access to thousands of new Chinese language eBook titles in every category (for example, see San Francisco Public Library eBook collection at http://sfpl.lib.overdrive.com/Chinese.htm).
Can Xue and Annelise Finegan Wasmoen win BTBA 2015!
According to the jury, Can Xue’s (“tsan shway”) The Last Lover (published by Yale University Press) was the most radical and uncompromising of this year’s finalists, pushing the novel form into bold new territory. Journeying through a dreamworld as strange yet disquietingly familiar as Kafka’s Amerika, The Last Lover proves radiantly original. If Orientalists describe an East that exists only in the Western imagination, Can Xue describes its shadow, offering a beguiling dream of a Chinese West. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen’s translation succeeds in crafting a powerful English voice for a writer of singular imagination and insight.
Lao Ma, the literary mosquito
Individuals, Flash Fiction by Lao Ma, review by Michael Rank:
"If brevity is the soul of wit, Chinese short story writer Lao Ma 劳马 is a modern-day Voltaire or Oscar Wilde. The book packs 55 wry and satirical stories into 178 pages, each one of them reflecting the ambitions and venalities of Chinese academics and bureaucrats caustically but not viciously, and all too recognisably."
Pen is mightier than the sword: Novelists help China’s soft power push in Latin America
Three writers - Mo Yan, Mai Jia and Tie Ning - are in South America with Li Keqiang.
Michel Hockx, director of the University of London's SOAS China Institute, said the writers had more of a role to play in cultural exchanges than boosting China's soft power. "These three writers are involved not so much because of what they write, but because of their positions in the official Chinese Writers Association," Hockx said. "Tie Ning is chairwoman, Mo Yan is one of the vice-chairs, and Mai Jia is chair of the Zhejiang provincial branch of the association."
Pro-active Guide for Foreign Scribes: How to Deal with Censorship of Your Writing in Xi Dada’s China
Anthony C. Yu, translator and scholar of religion and literature, 1938-2015
Anthony C. Yu, a scholar of religion and literature best known for his landmark translation of the Chinese epic The Journey to the West, died May 12 after a brief illness. He was 76.
Good Mandarin literature for beginner/intermediate speakers
Good advice from Charles Laughlin
2015 Mao Dun Prize: Who Will Snare the Award for Unofficial “Ethnic-themed” Category?
Perry Link’s introduction to Eileen Chang’s *Naked Earth*
Adapted from Perry Link’s introduction to Eileen Chang’s Naked Earth, to be published on June 16 by New York Review Books.
The dead body: A "legal tool of empowerment.”
In the opening of the Song dynasty classic The Washing Away of Wrongs, published in 1247 and considered the world’s earliest documentation of forensic science, author and coroner Song Ci explains that the whole point of an accurate autopsy of an unnatural death is to “xiyuan zewu,” or “wash away wrongs and oblige others.”
A marvelous look at how here in the 21st century, China's aggrieved are “carrying the corpse to protest” (抬尸抗议), and why the police are in turn employing “qiangshi” (抢尸) or “snatching the corpse。“
Review: Li Er’s "The Magician of 1919"
Translated by Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz.
Liu Cixin's "Three-Body Problem" shortlisted for the Locus Award 2015
The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the top five finalists in each category of the 2015 Locus Awards.
Winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, June 26-28, 2015.
Wang Guozhen (1956-2015)
Chinese poet Wang Guozhen, who was quoted by President Xi Jinping in his public speech, passed away in Beijing on Sunday...
“There’s no mountain higher than a man, and no road longer than his feet,” Xi had quoted from one of Wang’s poems during a speech at the 2013 APEC CEOs’ summit in Indonesia, to emphasize China’s determination on economic reform.
As part of the Best Translated Book Award project, recently announced on the Three Percent site, they're publishing short essays on the various books and the reasons for their nomination. There are four Chinese-language books on the longlist, and I'll update this post with links to the essays as they're posted. As of April 11, we've got:
- Nomination essay by judge Monica Carter on why Qiu Miaojin's Last Words from Montmartre, translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich, should win.
- Nomination essay by ??? on why Hsia Yü's poetry collection Salsa, translated by Steve Bradbury should win.
- Nomination essay by guest critic Christine Palauon why Dorothy Tse's Snow and Shadow, translated by Nicky Harman, should win.
- Nomination essay by ??? on why Can Xue's The Last Lover, translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen should win.
By Eric Abrahamsen, May 4 '15, 10:57a.m.
Burton Watson wins 2015 PEN/Ralph Manheim lifetime achievement Medal for Translation
The winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal is chosen by the members of the PEN America Translation Committee, who are dedicated to highlighting the art of literary translation and advocating on behalf of translators. As the committee's citation states, “Burton Watson is the inventor of classical East Asian poetry for our time.” Among other writers, Watson has translated the works of Chuang Tzu, Han-shan, Su Tung-P'o, and Po Chü-i.
Credited with making many classical Chinese and Japanese works accessible to the English-reading public for the first time, Watson’s translations also span a wide array of genres, from poetry and prose to histories and sacred texts. The committee's citation continues, “For decades his anthologies and his scholarly introductions have defined classical East Asian literature for students and readers in North America, and we have reason to expect more: even at his advanced age, he still translates nearly daily.”
Book of the Month: Bronze and Sunflower
The story is engrossing too. With Bronze and Sunflower battling to survive and thrive, the stakes could not be higher. As a result, Cao is able to weave in some sophisticated observations about the realities of poverty. He also powerfully portrays the experience of living in a place where services like health care and education are seen as privileges and not rights – thought-provoking stuff for children in many parts of the English-speaking world, who may be more used to grumbling about than begging to go to school.
Here's the My BEA Show Planner of events listed under the heading "Global Market Forum: China".
New York, 27-29 May 2015:
By Helen Wang, April 27 '15, 10:55a.m.
Interview with Helen Wang: Bronze and Sunflower
Although set in rural China during the Cultural Revolution Bronze and Sunflower has a timeless quality about it; yes, there are references to Cadre schools (a feature of the Cultural Revolution) but nevertheless it felt as if this story could have been set in almost any time period. It has a folktale-like quality in its focus on simple everyday events and challenges. The ingenuity of Bronze, the determination of his entire family to provide the best they can for Sunflower, and the fierce love between adoptive brother and sister are moving and enchanting.
Review: He Jiahong's "Black Holes"
We learn who wrote the "legal thriller," who reviewed it, and who copy edited the review.
Guess whose name is never mentioned?
Can Xue Retrospective from Music & Literature
In 1988, the final year of China’s post-Mao, pre-Tiananmen “Culture Fever,” the Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House organized a conference in honor of two women writers. One was the realist Wang Anyi; the other was the unclassifiable Can Xue, whose first full-length novel had just been published to the same controversial reception as her earlier short work. Her oblique, nightmarish fictions had quickly gained notoriety, and once it became known that a woman was writing behind the pseudonym, criticism had turned personal. The author was said to be too individualistic, or simply too deranged, for significant achievement; her work was called neurotic and scopophilic, “the delirium of a paranoid woman.” Against such charges any author might have taken a conference as an opportunity for self-defense, but it is a mark of Can Xue’s slyness that she chose to do so in the form of a fiction. Addressing her audience, she announced the happy news that in preparation for her lecture, a “male colleague” had given her guidance and even chosen her topic: she would be speaking on “Masculinity and the Golden Age of Literary Criticism.”
A Comics Industry with Chinese Characteristics: Manhua Publishing in the PRC and Hong Kong
Despite a spate of articles in Hong Kong newspapers bemoaning the effects of piracy on the domestic comics and animation industry, the original manhua empire of Tony “Jademan” Wong Yuk-long 黃玉郎 seems to have been rebuilt somewhat since it’s magnificent rise and fall in the early 1990s, with the sale of a 40% stake in his new company, Jade Dynasty, to Pegasus Entertainment Holdings Ltd 天馬娛樂控股有限公司 for HK $60 million (US$7.74 million) in 2013. Nevertheless, the deal is striking similar to the sale of Marvel to Disney, pointing to increasing interest in comics as entertainment properties that can be turned into profitable films.
Books from Taiwan - new initiative from Taiwanese Ministry of Culture
Books from Taiwan is a new initiative funded by the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture to introduce fiction and non-fiction to foreign publishers and readers alike. On this website you will find information about authors and books, along with who to contact in order to license translation rights. All titles featured are eligible for the National Museum of Taiwan Literature’s Translation and Publication Grants Program.
Eleanor Goodman's Translation of Wang Xiaoni Shortlisted for Griffin Poetry Prize
“What is so attractive about Wang Xiaoni’s poems as translated into English by Eleanor Goodman is her quiet, loving, meditative distance to the mostly anonymous and lonely heroes she clearly knows well. And her attitude to time, which she keeps dragging out of its anchored localities (and barely marked history) to extend and connect, or fuse with specific spaces that she also enlarges in size and scope. Moments prolong into a century or a life, imaginary beasts meld with real animals, description becomes an act of meditation. In a few lines, a village can take on the dimension of a vast landscape – and yet still remain that particular village. And while Xiaoni’s characters may not speak, they seem to have a real insight into our experience and lives. In a way nothing much happens in her magic lyricism: the wind blows, the ocean rises, people work or move from one place to another, or wait, or just leave some place, and they have souls (which behave like shadows); someone on a journey sees them, through the window, between one landscape and another, and it’s difficult to know why all this is so moving. Reading her, I found myself repeating Auden’s phrase “About suffering they were never wrong, / The old Masters.” Wang Xiaoni is a terrific contemporary poet gracefully extending the great classical Chinese tradition.”
Or they get translated better, if not more—at least in 2014. Now that prize season is upon us, we get a chance to see which, if any, Chinese writers in translation are making an impression on the judges. This year, with Best Translated Book Award fiction longlist nominations for Can Xue 残雪, Qiu Miaojin 邱妙津, and Dorothy Tse 謝曉虹, a Best Translated Book Award longlisting in poetry for Hsia Yü 夏宇, a Griffin Prize shortlisting for Wang Xiaoni 王小妮, and a Newman Prize for Chinese Literature for Chu T’ien-wen朱天文, two points pop out: all nominees are women, and of the six a stark majority are from outside the PRC—which means some would call them “sinophone,” a potentially broader category than just “Chinese.”*
By Lucas Klein, April 13 '15, 2:02a.m.
Utopian/Dystopian Fiction in Contemporary China
CEFC China Perspectives 2015/1 Special Feature:
Editorial - by Wang Chaohua and Song Mingwei
After 1989: The New Wave of Chinese Science Fiction by Song Mingwei
Blanks to be Filled: Public-Making and the Censorship of Jia Pingwa’s Decadent Capital by Thomas Chen
Dreamers and Nightmares: Political novels by Wang Lixiong and Chan Koonchung by Wang Chaohua
Society and Utopia in Liu Cixin by Adrian Thieret
Review of Jeffrey C. Kinkley's Visions of Dystopia in China’s New Historical Novels by Yinde Zhang
The "Heroic Translators" Who Reinvented Classic Science Fiction In China
Essay by Ken Liu, in i09, 10 April 2015
When early science fiction novels were first translated into Chinese, the translators took a lot of liberties with the material, reinventing Jules Verne for Chinese readers. Author Ken Liu (The Grace of Kings) explains how this helped inspire him, in turn, to reinvent Chinese traditions for Western fantasy readers.
Perry Link reviews David Tod Roy's translation of Jin Ping Mei
"This raises the question of what translation is. I’m afraid it is something quite different from what the person on the street takes it to be. It is not code-switching. Let’s take a tiny example, chosen at random, from David Roy’s translation of the immense sixteenth-century Chinese novel Chin P’ing Mei, or The Plum in the Golden Vase, written during the Ming dynasty, the final volume of which has recently appeared. Here the doughty female protagonist, Golden Lotus, is waiting in a garden for her latest lover, who is also her son-in-law. To tease her, the son-in-law hides under a raspberry trellis, then jumps out as she passes by and throws his arms around her..."
Yu Hua's new book "We Live in a Huge Gap" 《我们生活在巨大的差距里》
Yu Hua shares his thoughts on China’s wealth gap.
A license to thrill: A Yi, Adam Brookes and Paul French
Asia House, London, 11 May
PEN-supported novelist A Yi joins Adam Brookes, author of Night Heron, and Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking, to discuss whether Asia is the perfect setting for the modern day thriller. A highly entertaining and adrenalin filled night, where the lines between fact and fiction will blur – not to be missed!
A Yi’s novel A Perfect Crime (translated by Anna Holmwood) is out with Oneworld on 7th May 2015.
Best Translated Book Award 2015 - two Chinese titles on the longlist!
Congratulations to Dorothy Tse and translator Nicky Harman (Snow and Shadow),
and to Can Xue and translator Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (The Last Lover).
Cao Wenxuan's "Dingding Dangdang" selected as a 2015 IBBY Outstanding Book for Young People with Dis
Every two years, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) chooses outstanding books for and about children and young people with disabilities. This biennial selection draws attention to books published around the world, in an extensive variety of languages and formats, that address special needs and situations and which encourage inclusion at every level.
Books selected as 2015 outstanding titles are featured in a print catalogue that will be launched at this year’s Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy on March 30th. The 2015 catalogue will also be digitized and available online.
Bei Dao wins "Golden Wreath" award
On March 20th in the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Skopje, the Managing Board of the Struga Poetry Evenings officially announced that the Chinese poet Bei Dao is the laureate of the “Golden Wreath” of the Struga Poetry Evenings of 2015. With this award, he joins the list of the greatest poetic names of the second half of the twentieth and the twenty-first century: Wystan Hugh Auden, Eugenio Montale, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Rafael Alberti, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Ted Hughes, Joseph Brodsky, Allen Ginsberg, Tomas Tranströmer, Ko Un, and has become the 50th laureate of this most prestigious world achievement of poetic work.
Frog Reviewed at The Millions
The word frog in Chinese is 蛙 (wā), while the word for child is 娃 (wá). Frogs are omnipresent in the text and haunt Gugu, a village obstetrician who rabidly enacts China’s infamous family planning policy and is thus responsible for thousands of abortions. The beauty of the metaphor lies in the ambiguity between these two similar sounding words. If we substitute the word frog for child, then the constant references to frogs throughout becomes haunting.
At one point in the novel, Gugu, returning after a night of drinking with friends, is chased by frogs. In the English translation, she is initially unsettled by the sound of croaking reverberating “as if the cries of infants” before eventually being chased by “an incalculable number of frogs.” But in Chinese, both the cries of frogs and children are also 哇 (wā). So in the Chinese original, this paragraph hangs on the inflections of these three wa sounds. If we see Gugu as chased by the ghostly wails of the children she has aborted, as opposed to the mere croaks of frogs, then the scene takes on the gravity and weight appropriate for a Nobel Prize winner. The way the meanings interweave due to their similar pronunciation is ethereal and translucent — and entirely lost in the English translation.
On Monday the translation aficionados of Beijing descended on iQiYi to hear author Sun Yisheng discuss his story《猴者》("Apery" née "Monkey Business") with translator Nicky Harman and Pathlight editors Eric Abrahamsen and Dave Haysom. Raw first drafts were exposed, ancient linguistic enmities unearthed, and the democratic process defiantly spurned. A big thank you to everyone who came, to all the people at the Bookworm and iQiYi for hosting us (and resolving our inevitable technical crises), to Lacey for the seamless interpretation, and to Karmia for the photos!
By David Haysom, March 26 '15, 1:12a.m.
Zhang Guangyu’s Manhua Journey to the West (1945) – Part 6 of 6
Upon seeing the beast, Wukong was dumbfounded, so he replied, “Old Sun doesn’t know you, but I reckon that you’re a monster that’s here to make trouble, so I want to ask you, do you know who your daddy is?” The dragon replied, “Let’s not mince words, and I won’t ask what your name is. Everyone who comes here has to follow the rules: I get to test their intelligence. I give them all a riddle to solve, and if they guess correctly they get to go past. If not then I get to finish them off!” So saying, he opened his mouth and stretched out his tongue, spitting out several white bones to show the sincerity of his threat.
People's Literature 人民文学 launches new THINKER app
The app is a digital reading platform, where readers can download full texts of literary works published by People's Literature, and the app serves as a social network platform for writers and readers, where registered users can leave comments below an article and discuss their reading experiences.
Review of The Four Books in The Asian Review of Books
The novel, as with Yan’s other works, has been characterized as a satire. In truth, however, though there are satirical exaggerations in the novel, not least an extended metaphoric side-narrative in which a character attempts to grow wheat by feeding the grain with his own blood, the facts of the Great Leap Forward are so absurd that they require little overstatement by the politically motivated novelist.
Those of you who are in Beijing: come to the iQiyi cafe next Monday night (March 23rd) at 8pm, for an event with Sun Yisheng, Nicky Harman, Dave Haysom and myself, talking a bit about Pathlight magazine, but mostly about Sun Yisheng's story 《猴者》, and Nicky's translation of it: "Apery". Expect the usual keen textual autopsy, mixed with general literary commentary and snarky asides.
The event is part of the Bookworm Literary Festival, and is 60 RMB. It's taking place at iQiyi, the cafe sort of kitty-corner to the Bookworm that sticks up all by itself, you know the one.
By Eric Abrahamsen, March 19 '15, 10:27a.m.
Each year the London Book Fair hands out awards in a number of categories as part of its International Excellence Awards program. We're pleased to announce that Paper Republic has made the shortlist for this year's International Literary Translation Initiative Award. This is a wonderful bit of recognition, and many thanks to all who made it happen.
The short list is short: besides us it's Asymptote and the Dutch Foundation for Literature, so we're in excellent company.
By Eric Abrahamsen, March 18 '15, 10:03p.m.
Interview with Can Xue by Anelise Finegan Wasmoen
Feature and interview by Anelise Finegan Wasmoen in BOMB Magazine.
"For intrigued readers, Can Xue's body of work in English is substantial, including several story collections and two novels from among the hundreds of short stories, novellas, novels, essays, and criticism published in Chinese over her thirty-year career."
Can Xue's "The Last Lover" longlisted for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015
Translated by Anelise Finegan Wasmoen, published by Yale University Press, 2014.
Last Words From Montmartre Nominated for Lamda Literary Award
The 27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards–or the “Lammys,” as they are affectionately known–kick off another record-breaking year with today’s announcement of the finalists. They were chosen from a record 818 submissions (up from 746 last year) from 407 publishers (up from 352 last year). Submissions came from major mainstream publishers and from academic presses, from both long-established and new LGBT publishers, as well as from emerging publish-on-demand technologies. Pioneer and Trustee Award honorees, the master of ceremonies, and presenters will be announced in April. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on Monday evening, June 1, 2015 in New York City.
Zhang Guangyu’s Manhua Journey to the West (1945) – Part 5 of 6
Upon arriving at the Kingdom of the False Qin, Sun Wukong looked down and saw that the assembled monsters wanted to use artillery to attack the fleet. The monkey Sun couldn’t let this happen and so he firmed up his resolve and plucked 72 hairs from his body. Blowing them into the wind, he shouted, “Change!” And with that they changed into a multitude of air balloons, filling the sky. With that, he shouted, “Change!” again, and the air balloons all let loose bombs, and crashing thunder fell all around like the falling rain, exploding and sending off thick plumes of smoke, until the whole sky was filled with flames, until walls collapsed, ramparts fell in on themselves, and cries of distress could be heard, causing Tripitaka to shout loudly, “You brutish monkey, making a mess of things like this! You’ve committed a great sin by taking life, this is unacceptable, unacceptable!”
Fiberead Helps Foreign Authors Break Into China’s E-Book Market
"One of the reasons Fiberead is able to get book ready for the Chinese market more quickly than traditional publishers is because it works with about 300 qualified translators... Fiberead’s revenue-sharing model gives 30 percent of money earned by a book to authors and 40 percent to its translators and editors. The company, which does not require a down payment from authors, keeps the rest..."
Covering China Best-seller “Kite Runner”: Taking Translator Invisibility to the Extreme
So I saw Wolf Totem last night, and I think stayed awake for enough
of it to be able to write a short review.
A bit ago Bruce posted some thoughts and questions about the film,
focusing as he does on the ethnic minority angle, and asking about its
depiction of Mongolia and Mongolians.
Having seen the film, I can say with some confidence: it’s not really
about Mongolia at all.
By which I mean, this is a storyline that has been cooked down to its
essentials until it looks more like a film-school exercise in
story-boarding than it does a real story. It ended up being a
prototype for any and all films that follow the “civilized man visits
wise natives and learns their wisdom but doesn’t get the girl” arc.
Sure it’s set in Mongolia, and sure its got wolves, but all the plot
particulars are so rudimentary they feel like placeholders that the
filmmakers later forgot to replace with actual content. The Mongolians
could just be blank blobs tagged INSERT NOBLE SAVAGES HERE. Chen Zhen
might have a sign on his chest reading INSERT NAIVE IDEALIST HERE.
Mongolian is spoken, in exactly the same quantities as Lakota was
spoken in Dances With Wolves, or Na’vi in Avatar. In the same
quantities, and to the same purpose. Those movies – and a barrel more
like them – fleshed out the civilization-meets-savagery theme into
something that (even if you objected to it) had specificity, and the
emotional weight that comes with that. Wolf Totem remains an
insubstantial Platonic ideal.
Even the wolf scenes, sad to say. I did enjoy the night storm scene
with the wolf-pack chasing the horses. The shot of the horses the next
morning was the film’s most arresting visual image. And yet… the
“thrilling” wolf scenes were filmed in an entirely generic way. The
cinematography and the score were more appropriate to Avatar’s
scenes of dragon-riding or attack helicopters than wild animals.
Wolves have their own pace, their own tension, their own menace, and
the camera failed to find that.
Try reading this Q&A with Jiang Rong and you’ll see what I’m talking
about: his comments on the differences between the film and his book
immediately restore a sense of depth and reality to the story. And no
- Discussion of ethnic conflict removed.
- Doomed cross-cultural romance added.
- Death of wolf-cub removed.
This last is probably most revealing. Jiang Rong’s first explanation
is “Westerners would not be able to bear this. They would think this
was too cruel, and the animal rights people might protest.” Passing
over that non-sequitur, we come to what feels like the real reason:
…the parts of the film that include the cub are pretty superficial.
People were very moved by the wolf cub in the book because I wrote
about it in great detail. So when the wolf cub dies in the book, many
readers cried. Even I cried while I was writing it. The wolf cub’s
personality is very strong in the book up until its death, so it is a
very complete chain of events.
But since the cub wasn’t very prominent in the early parts of the
film, to have this shocking thing happen to it wouldn’t be very
In essence: “We took out the most emotionally affecting part of the
film, because the film doesn’t really have any emotion in it.”
I left the theater with the weird feeling that I hadn’t seen a film at
all, merely a description of one.
By Eric Abrahamsen, March 7 '15, 11:05p.m.
Liu Cixin - China's Arthur C. Clarke
By Joshua Rothman, in The New Yorker, 6 March 2015
*The Chinese Political Novel* by Catherine Vance Yeh
The Chinese Political Novel
Migration of a World Genre by Catherine Vance Yeh
Harvard East Asian Monographs 380, 2015
"The Gravedigger" by Yao Hui
Featured at Creative Asia: one of the six poems by Yao Hui translated by Eleanor Goodman for the Autumn 2014 'Myth & History' issue of Pathlight.
Amazon Opens Store on Alibaba
It’s a humbling choice for Amazon. Though Amazon’s been selling goods online in China for about a decade under Amazon.cn, it never managed to ride the Chinese e-commerce craze. Meanwhile, Tmall and JD.com, Alibaba’s prime competitor, continue to dominate. As Tech in Asia notes, the move means that Amazon is essentially paying Alibaba a commission to sell its goods.
Great Openers when Interviewing Winners of Nobel Prize for Literature
Like Mo Yan, for instance.
China's best books - Time Out’s guide to the top China fiction and non-fiction books you need to rea
Time Out Beijing present the ultimate guide to the best Chinese books since 1900. Discover the top 20 Chinese fiction and 20 Chinese non-fiction books as voted for by 25 of China’s top literary experts including Penguin Asia's Jo Lusby, author Lynn Pan and Newsweek's Duncan Hewitt.
Find out more about the rich history of China’s authors in Beijing in our guide to the city’s literary landmarks and where to find them, including Cat Country author Lao She's former residence and former Qing Dynasty literati hangout Taoranting Park.
Also discover Beijing’s best bookshops, and all the information you need to make the most of the Bookworm Literary Festival in March 2015.
SCMP: Beijing Bookworm Gets Into Publishing
Now, greater plans are in the works. General manager Peter Goff says The Bookworm is going to become a publisher, something he sees as a natural step forward.
Its newly established China Bookworm Press will focus primarily on contemporary Chinese fiction, translating books into English to make them more accessible to readers outside the mainland.
Zhang Guangyu’s Manhua Journey to the West (1945) – Part 4 of 6
Just when Sun Wukong thought he had nowhere to go, suddenly Princess Iron Fan stepped up onto the stage to ask the monkey Sun to dance with her. Sun Wukong said, “How come a monster like you is being so nice?” Princess Iron Fan said, “That’s all in the past, there’s no need remember such things! Come on! Come on!” Not wanting to seem impolite, the monkey Sun agreed to dance with her. He was surprised to discover she was an excellent dancing partner, with a slender and supple waist, like a poplar or willow, and soft, vulpine steps.
Peter Hessler: Travels with my Censor
My Chinese censor is Zhang Jiren, an editor at the Shanghai Translation Publishing House, and last September he accompanied me on a publicity tour. It was the first time I’d gone on a book tour with my censor.
Privy to the Plot - novelist Su Wei talks to Austin Woerner (in NY Times)
Su Wei, 62, is a novelist who teaches Chinese language and literature at Yale. He left China in 1989. This story was told in Mandarin to Austin Woerner, who is Su’s translator.
Jiang Rong on ‘Wolf Totem,’ the Novel and Now the Film
Q&A with the author, feature by Amy Qin, New York Times.
“Sound and Image: Chinese Poets in Conversation with Artist Xu Bing” Photos and Audio
Photographs and audio are now available from the February 24, 2015 event “Sound and Image: Chinese Poets in Conversation with Artist Xu Bing.” The standing-room only event featured a stimulating discussion between internationally acclaimed artist Xu Bing and five renowned Chinese poets: Bei Dao, Ouyang Jianghe, Xi Chuan, Zhai Yongming, and Zhou Zan. Their conversation was moderated by Lydia H. Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, and John Rajchman, Adjunct Professor of Art History at Columbia University. Eugenia Lean, Director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and Associate Professor of Chinese History at Columbia University, introduced the discussion.
Wolf Totem, The Film: Breakthrough for Mongolian on the Screen?
The China Dream - discussion with Chan Koon-chung
TODAY (24 Feb) at the London School of Economics, a discussion with
- Chan Koonchung (The Fat Years,The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver
- William A Callahan (China Dreams: 20 Visions of the Future)
- Isabel Hilton (founding editor of Chinadialogue)
- Hans Steinmüller (Communities of Complicity. Everyday Ethics in Rural China)
The Qur’an and Identity in Contemporary Chinese Fiction
by Wen-chin Ouyang, in Journal of Qur'anic Studies 16.3 (2014): 62–83.
Hold fast to God’s rope all together
I begin my exploration of the relationship between the Qur’an and identity in contemporary Chinese fiction with this quotation from the Qur’an because it encapsulates the communitarian impulse underpinning the writings of the two Chinese Muslims I have chosen to look at: Zhang Chengzhi (張承志, b. 1948) and Huo Da (霍達, b. 1945). It informs their identity politics. The verse itself appears in Zhang’s novel, A History of the Soul, Xing-ling-shi (心靈史, 1991), and, to the best of my knowledge, it may be the only quotation from the Qur’an found in the works of fiction
written by Chinese Muslims.
Zhang Guangyu’s Manhua Journey to the West (1945) – Part 3 of 6
Part 3 of 6 of a translation of Zhang Guangyu's 張光宇 (1900-1965) overlooked masterpiece, Manhua Journey to the West 西漫遊記.
Three-body Problem’s Liu Cixin on Translation, Readership Outside the English-speaking World
Xu Zechen - feature/review by Bertrand Mialaret
Yi Creation Epic Published in Korean, Based on “Reconstructed” Mandarin Version
Shaanxi Fiction via French Comics
*Internet Literature in China* by Michel Hockx
Conducting the first comprehensive survey in English of this phenomenon, Michel Hockx describes in detail the types of Chinese literature taking shape right now online and their novel aesthetic, political, and ideological challenges. Offering a unique portal into postsocialist Chinese culture, he presents a complex portrait of internet culture and control in China that avoids one-dimensional representations of oppression. The Chinese government still strictly regulates the publishing world, yet it is growing increasingly tolerant of internet literature and its publishing practices while still drawing a clear yet ever-shifting ideological bottom line. Hockx interviews online authors, publishers, and censors, capturing the convergence of mass media, creativity, censorship, and free speech that is upending traditional hierarchies and conventions within China--and across Asia
Style in Translation: A Corpus-Based Perspective by Libo Huang (New Frontiers in Translation Studies, 2015), ISBN 978-3-662-45565-4
Publisher's page here
Front Matter, incl Contents available as pdf
Back Matter, incl Appendices available as pdf
By Helen Wang, February 10 '15, 12:14p.m.
Paola Iovene, Tales of Futures Past: Anticipation and the Ends of Literature in Contemporary China (Stanford University Press, 2014)
Carla Nappi reviews the book and interviews the author here:
By Helen Wang, February 10 '15, 10:12a.m.
“Funeral of a Muslim”: Korean and Serbian Rights Purchased
With sales of some 2.5 million copies, Funeral of a Muslim (穆斯林的葬礼，霍达著), Huo Da’s tale about three generations of a Hui family in Beijing, is quite possibly the most popular ethnic-themed novel ever published in China. It spans the turbulent years of the Japanese invasion, World War II and part of the Cultural Revolution . . .
Speaking recently at the China Development Forum in London, Goran Malmqvist (马悦然), a sinologist and Emeritus Professor at Stockholm University, said that "poor translations and little attention Chinese literature received from Western publishers are the major obstacles for Chinese culture to go global."
By Bruce Humes, February 9 '15, 5:42p.m.
Light Reading for Tibetans: “1984” and “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”
Francis Beechinor (from SOAS) has asked me to post this event for anyone in London next week: "Having lived in both Hong Kong and the UK, Jennifer Wong, the author of Goldfish and winner of the Hong Kong Young Artist Award, will share her insights on Hong Kong as both an inherently Chinese and international city. Through readings of some of her own poems about Hong Kong, she will share her views on the city's unique culture and identity. Come along to hear about the life of a poet and what it means to be a citizen of Hong Kong today. Feel free to join the Facebook event.
Venue: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Rm 116
Date/time: Tue 17 Feb 2015 - 18:30 - 20:00.
By Nicky Harman, February 9 '15, 6:43a.m.
Creative Writing In China
More specifically, the rise of creative writing courses in China - both Chinese and English creative language writing courses.
French Translation of Chi Zijian’s “Last Quarter of the Moon” Underway
French edition of Chi Zijian's tragic novel about the reindeer-herding Evenki of China's northeast, Last Quarter of the Moon, will eventually join English, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Turkish versions . . .
Ann Morgan’s recent publication Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer devotes no fewer than five pages (pp.208-212) to the first translations of Sherlock Holmes into Chinese, the spoiler-titles (eg The Case of the Sapphire in the Belly of the Goose and The Case of the Jealous Woman Murdering Her Husband), and the Chinese gong’an (court case) tradition.
By Helen Wang, February 6 '15, 11:43a.m.