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Chinese Literature in Translation

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Pathlight Magazine

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A quarterly literary journal featuring translations of the best contemporary Chinese fiction and poetry.

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Hon Lai-chuKyle AndersonFang FangJia PingwaDorothy (Hiu Hung) Tse

Hon Lai-chu

Kyle Anderson

Fang Fang

Jia Pingwa

Dorothy (Hiu Hung) Tse

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Painless

by Yerkex Hurmanbek, translated by Roddy Flagg

Nobody in the village noticed that my brother’s six-year-old daughter had chewed off all her fingers. Only her little palms were left, like two tiny shovels. But more mobile and fleshier, with a child’s warmth. She took bowls of food using her palms like pincers. The sight stopped her mother’s heart for an instant; the right ventricle blocked and wouldn’t let the blood through so the breath caught in her throat. It was a bit like when their pa...

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Recent Posts

Beijing International Book Fair: Literary Salons

As Bruce has already noted, Paper Republic is helping the Beijing International Book Fair plan a series of literary events during the book fair in Beijing next week. It's a relatively small affair, but we've had fun with it, and I think have some very nice events on the way.

Do note: These events are aimed at a Chinese-speaking audience, and most will not cater to English-speakers!

You can see the full event schedule, plus our awesome posters (designed by Sun Xiaoxi, about whom more later), at this link.

Events we're particularly excited about include a few with Alan Lee, illustrator of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, a conversation between Enrique Vila-Matas and Ge Fei, a writing workshop with Simon Van Booy, and a discussion about the future of publishing in China with folks from Guoren and Douban. But there's a lot going on in there, check out the link!

Lastly, one event that didn't make it into the official schedule, but which I'm very enthusiastic about, is a talk with author and poet Wang Xiaoni and editor Li Jing, about Wang's short story collection 1966. That's happening Sunday, August 30th, at 3pm, at the One Way Street Aiqinhai location, and shouldn't be missed.

By Eric Abrahamsen, August 20 '15, 2:16a.m.

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Apartheid online at Beijing’s Int’l Book Fair?

Nice to see that the BIBF (Aug 26-29) has fairly attractive Chinese and English sections to its new-look web site, both of which – congrats! – are already up and functioning here.

But as I glanced through it, it reminded me of my first trip to the New China in 1981. When my father and I went for breakfast with our tour group at Shanghai’s Old Jinjiang Hotel, we were immediately forced to choose: Chinese cuisine at this table, Western at the other. Naturally, I dragged him along with me to the Chinese table — after all, it was my first meal in China! But when I tried to order a cup of coffee for my father, the waiter snapped: “If you want coffee, sit at the Western table!”

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By Bruce Humes, August 18 '15, 9:12p.m.

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The Dao of China Publishing

I have noticed that many of the promising new books about China's ethnic minorities -- their history, culture, and even award-winning short stories and novels by ethnic authors -- to which I call attention in my blog are just about impossible to track down and purchase. They are publicized in a press release duly carried word-for-word on certain politically correct web sites, and then fall off the radar.

A Manchu grad student in Beijing explained it to me thus:

在中国,有些书出版就不是为了阅读,或者说不是为了买给市场为大家提供阅读的。

By Bruce Humes, August 13 '15, 10:27p.m.

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Beijing International Book Fair: Literary Salons

The Beijing International Book Fair, which takes place annually at the end of August, has always been primarily a publishing event – domestic and international publishing houses trading their wares. This year, with the help of Paper Republic, the BIBF is growing an additional limb: the Literary Salons, a small, reader-focused literary festival taking place alongside the publishing event.

Between August 22nd and 30th, Chinese and international writers will appear in more than a dozen literary events within Beijing, most taking place at the One Way Street Space.

We'll be announcing a full schedule in the next week or so, but expect to see Enrique Vila-Matas in conversation with Ge Fei, Alan Lee discussing his illustrations for The Lord of the Rings, Feng Tang reading poetry, and much more. Stay tuned!

By Eric Abrahamsen, August 4 '15, 11:19p.m.

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One of Jack Livings' interesting techniques (in his stories set in contemporary China)

"One of Livings’ interesting techniques is switching point of view at multiple junctures within his stories, often just for a sentence or two, so that the reader slips out of a protagonist’s thoughts for an instant and sees him or her from the outside, as others might. The habit is at first disorienting, but, slowly, the disorientation gains a strength. By the end of the collection, it feels like an artistic credo of sorts: a belief in seeing things from all angles." -- Review by Jonathan Lee in The Guardian, 16 July 2015

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By Helen Wang, July 31 '15, 4:07a.m.

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"Unavailing": Learning English via Xinhua News Translations

As of July 22, at least 238 people have been detained or questioned since the nationwide clampdown on China's attorneys began, according to the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyer Concern Group, reports The Guardian.

That sounds worrisome indeed!

But I'm also interested in the adjective applied to describe the apparently futile efforts of critics of the crackdown as noted below:

China’s state-controlled media have rejected claims Beijing is waging a war against civil society. “Critics should first get the facts right, get to the bottom of the problem before embarrassing themselves in another unavailing episode of finger-pointing,” an editorial by Xinhua, Beijing’s official news agency, argued this week.

My question: What's the Chinese for "unavailing"? I assume the Xinhua news item was translated from the Chinese original.

I get the feeling this term may be appearing more often . . .

By Bruce Humes, July 21 '15, 6:06p.m.

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READ PAPER REPUBLIC hooks up with two UK organisations

A key part of the READ PAPER REPUBLIC project, apart from publishing complete short stories every #TranslationThurs for a year, has been to make sure that people read them. So we linked up with two UK organisations with a special interest in literary translation and...fast-forward a few weeks ......produced a video of a discussion between writer Dorothy Tse, Dave Haysom (Pathlight and R P R editor) and me.

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By Nicky Harman, July 16 '15, 7:48a.m.

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Nanjing Will Pay You

To translate Nanjing writers!

The Nanjing municipal 文联 is teaming up with the Nanjing Municipal Publishing and Media Group to dump some money on the promotion of Nanjing arts and literature. There are many programs getting funding over the next three years, but one of them is particularly relevant to our interests: they're paying translators who successfully publish translations of works by writers in Nanjing.

Here's the link to the official application instructions.

The rules, as I understand them (and I could be wrong), are:

  1. You sign a contract with them before the deadline, which is the end of July, 2015, ie fifteen days from the date of this posting.
  2. Within three years of the signing, you translate and publish either one novel-length work, or two shorter works, by a Nanjing writer.
  3. They pay you either 180,000 RMB (one novel), or 150,000 RMB (two shorter works). Actually it looks like the fee is disbursed in yearly installments.
  4. Step four is usually "profit", but that's already happened in step three.

I'm not sure of the exact definition of a "Nanjing writer". I'm also not sure what happens if you translate the novel, and then no one agrees to publish it, which to be honest seems fairly likely. There are a few other terms and conditions, for which see the full explanation at the link above.

Update: I checked with them, and you don't need to have a novel publication contract in place to apply. They will be reviewing the applications, and making decisions based on likelihood of success, and it's enough that you find a publisher within the three-year term of the contract.

What is there to lose, comrades?

By Eric Abrahamsen, July 15 '15, 4:56a.m.

5 comments, viewed 51 times

Introducing "Read Paper Republic"

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.

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By Eric Abrahamsen, June 12 '15, 1:32a.m.

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Best Translated Book Award: Detailed Links

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:

  1. Nomination essay by judge Monica Carter on why Qiu Miaojin's Last Words from Montmartre, translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich, should win.
  2. Nomination essay by ??? on why Hsia Yü's poetry collection Salsa, translated by Steve Bradbury should win.
  3. Nomination essay by guest critic Christine Palauon why Dorothy Tse's Snow and Shadow, translated by Nicky Harman, should win.
  4. 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.

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