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.
“Hegemonic Mindset” Hampering Recognition of Manchu Contribution to China’s Literature
Right up to today, all Chinese literary history is actually the history of literature written in hànyǔ — the history of literature by the Han plus literature written in hànyǔ by some ethnic minority writers . . .
The 2015 Visual Guide to Translated Fiction
This is NEW from Typographical Era!
You can search/sort by
AUTHOR | GENRE |LANGUAGE | MONTH | PUBLISHER | TITLE | TRANSLATOR | RANDOM | STATS | SUBMIT | WEBSITES
and you can add to their list by using the SUBMIT tab.
Call for Manuscripts: Book Series on East Asian Comparative Literature and Culture
Book Series: East Asian Comparative Literature and Culture (ISSN: 2212-4772) www.brill.com/eacl
Series Editors: Professor ZHANG Longxi (City University, Hong Kong) and Professor Wiebke Denecke (Boston University, Boston).
Editorial Board: Alexander Beecroft (University of South Carolina), Ronald Egan (University of California, Santa Barbara), Joshua Fogel (York University, Canada), Alexa Huang (George Washington University), Peter Kornicki (Cambridge University, UK), Karen Thornber (Harvard University), and Rudolf Wagner (Heidelberg University, Germany).
Jan 30 at Nottingham U: 21st Century Sino-African Dynamics
Time/date: 12:00-13:00 Friday, Jan 30 2015
Venue: Nottingham University, England.
Speakers: Dr Kathryn Batchelor & Dr Catherine Gilbert.
Topic: “Literary Translation, Image Building and Soft Power: Exploring 21st century Sino-African dynamics” . . .
Qing Dynasty Translations of Han Classics into Various Languages of China
The four classics of Chinese vernacular literature during the Ming and Qing Dynasties — Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Journey to the West and Dream of the Red Chamber — were all more or less fully translated into Manchu under the Qing, writes Yiming Abula (伊明·阿布拉) in Minority Translators Journal (民族翻译) . . .
2015 Update: The Xinjiang Archives Project
China to Force Authors to Provide Real Names When Publishing Online
Under the guidelines, creators of online content will still be allowed to publish under pen names. But unlike before, when some writers registered accounts under fake names, websites will know exactly who is publishing what.
Sun Saiyin's new book on Lu Xun (with preface by Julia Lovell)
Beyond the Iron House: Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Literary Field. Beijing: Tsinghua University Press, 2014. 294 pp. ISBN: 978-7-302-38494-6 [written in English]
Preface written by Julia Lovell:
"I first read Sun Saiyin’s eye-opening work on Lu Xun when I was finishing my translation of Lu Xun’s complete short stories. For months, I had been absorbed in Lu Xun’s fictional language: in trying to understand his choice of words and tone, and trying to replicate them faithfully in English. Saiyin’s work drew me back outside Lu Xun’s abstract, fictional worlds, pushing me to re-engage with the writer as an individual and with his context..."
By the Numbers: Non-Han “Literary Families” during the Qing
In much the same way as modern gender studies have exploded the myth that great writers throughout human history were necessarily male, contemporary research into literary production by non-Han authors is slowly lifting the veil on their role in China’s pre-20th-century literary life . . .
Premier Kazakh Literary Competition Announces Winners
The winners of the first-ever Aksay Kazakh Literary Competition have been announced (“阿克塞” 哈萨克族文学奖揭晓). It joins two existing high-profile sets of awards for writing in languages other than Mandarin: the Junma Ethnic Literary Awards, which accepts entries in all non-Han languages, and the Duorina Mongolian Literary Prize. The competition was jointly sponsored by China Institute of Minority Writers and Aksay Kazakh Autonomous County in Gansu Province, with the collaboration of National Literature Magazine (民族文学) . . .
Eileen Chang’s ‘Half a Lifelong Romance’ Gets an English-Language Translation
It took 46 years, but at long last English-language readers are now able to enjoy one of Eileen Chang ’s most popular works, “Half a Lifelong Romance,” published last year by Penguin Classics, with a U.S. edition from Vintage Books scheduled for release next month.
CANAAN MORSE reviews:
Salsa, by Hsia Yu, translated by Steven Bradbury (Zephyr Press, 2014)
The poet and the translator of this collection have successfully created and re-created poetry across a linguistic boundary. This may sound unremarkable, but consider: not all translation, but only good translation can achieve this. These poems, especially the translations, exist both within and outside of their originators’ control, and now that each of the many essential parts has coalesced, it is also necessary to name those parts: a name on the book cover that belongs to one of the most important poets in Taiwan’s literary history; a collection of forty-six poems that has been through ten printings in the Chinese; forty-six English poems that are translations of the forty-six Chinese poems, and are also poems in themselves; the visible hand of the translator, Steven Bradbury, a professor of English literature in Taiwan whose scope as a translator encompasses classical, modern, and contemporary poetry in Chinese; and a vast, burgeoning interpretive space, not a gulf between the two versions but an aura around each that opens up as the reader vivifies the writing.
By Canaan Morse, January 23 '15, 2p.m.
China's smog provides cover for burglar in novel by environment official
(Reuters) - China's pollution crisis has inspired an environmental regulator in a smog-blanketed northern province to write a novel whose extracts have gone viral online, spurring plans for two more books.
Culture Author Yu Qiuyu Reenters the Limelight with Debut of His First Novel
Culture writer Yu Qiuyu pens his first novel "Icy River" ( 余秋雨:《冰河》)
11th-Century Turkic Classic “Kutadgu Bilig” Recited in Chinese at the Great Hall of the People
Zhu Tianwen, the unbridgeable gap between literature and film
Zhu Tianwen is one of the most famous Taiwanese writers, she has just been awarded the Newman prize, a biennial prize by the University of Oklahoma. She is the first female recipient and was in good company with finalists such as Yu Hua, Yan Lianke, Ge Fei. She succeeds Mo Yan and Han Shaogong who were awarded the prize in 2009 and 2011 as well as theTaiwanese poet Yang Mu...
Compiling New 150,000-entry Tibetan Dictionary: Any Role for the Tibetan Diaspora?
Xinhua reports that the first 3 volumes of a new all-Tibetan dictionary will be published within 2015, with the other 27 to be gradually launched through the end of 2018 (新版《藏文大辞典》).
Anyone who follows the PRC’s dictionary scene knows that the Chinese authorities can be more than a tad political about their dictionaries – which script they employ, which words make the cut (or don’t), and crucially, who actually edits them . . .
“Nationalities Literature” Magazine Announces 2014 Award Winners
The beginning of the year sees various deadlines for submitting books for ‘best translated books’ awards. What’s out there, and who can apply?
By Nicky Harman, January 18 '15, 5:01p.m.
Beijing metro users access free e-books
Finding something to read on the underground just got a bit easier in Beijing, where travellers can now access a free electronic library.
Carriages on Line 4 of the city's metro feature barcodes which people can scan with their tablets or smartphones, China's BTV News channel reports. They'll be able to choose from a selection of ten books, which will change every couple of months.
The new Social Media list on the right of the Paper Republic home page lists the China Fiction Book Club. For those of you who haven't come across it before, the CFBC started out as a London-based translation club, meeting every month to translate and discuss contemporary Chinese fiction. After a couple of (very lively and successful) years, work pressures got the better of most of us, and the CFBC went a bit quiet until the day, soon after, when it turned into a Twitter account, @cfbcuk. Amazingly, Helen Wang and I got together over a cup of coffee to set up the account on Twitter the very day that Mo Yan won that prize. Two and a bit years later, the @cfbcuk has hit two milestones: over 1,000 followers and very nearly 5,000 tweets. Follow it if you can!
By Nicky Harman, January 16 '15, 2:22p.m.
New York Review Books announces new series: Calligrams
New York Review Books is pleased to announce the debut of Calligrams, a new series of writings from and on China. Calligrams will encompass a wide array of poetic masterpieces, classic fiction, thrilling dramas, travel writing, criticism, and histories written by both Chinese and Western writers from antiquity to modern time. The series, made possible by a publishing partnership with the Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, is edited by Eliot Weinberger.
Chen Xiwo's first full collection of stories in English
"Chen Xiwo’s worldview mimics various types of pain, both fierce jabs and slow throbbing. ... “The Book of Sins” is Mr. Chen’s first full collection of stories to be translated into English. Nicky Harman, a former translator-in-residence at the Free Word Center in London, does this with aplomb, allowing Mr. Chen’s delight in the intricacies of his language to shine through. At one point Mr. Chen writes that the character for “smile” (笑 ) looks “like a radiant grin,” “cry” (哭 ) “like a sad face” and, most pertinently, “death” (死 ) “like someone meeting the end fearlessly, head on.”
"The Books of Sins" by Chen Xiwo, tr Nicky Harman, reviewed by Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore in the Wall Street Journal.
Running through Beijing review in Tribune magazine, UK
"Eric Abrahamsen's... version sounds absolutely authentic; his dialogue is spot-on. Credit also to Two Lines Press for taking a punt on a work by an author few westerners have heard of. With luck, more of Xu’s longer work will follow."
You may recognize the name of Sheng Keyi (盛可以) as the novelist who wrote Northern Girls (北妹) and more recently Death Fugue (死亡赋格), both translated into English. But you might not know that she is a budding artist as well. She took up painting in 2013. Check out her brushwork here.
You are invited to attend the exhibition, comprising 26 tableaux, as well as the launch of her latest novel, Savage Growth (野蛮生长), which also features her own illustrations:
Date/time: 3:00-5:00 pm, January 17
Venue: New Millenium Gallery (北京千年时间画廊)
Curator: Zhang Siyong (张思永)
Academic Support: Feng Tang (冯唐)
Special Guests: Li Jingze (李敬泽), Liu Zhenyun (刘震云), Wu Hongbin (武洪滨), Li Jian (李健), Li Xiuwen (李修文) and A Yi (阿乙)
By Bruce Humes, January 13 '15, 12:51a.m.
In 贾平娃：只能是守株待兔, we learn that Jia Pingwa’s latest novel 老生 (Lǎo Shēng) topped Sina Online’s 2014 ranking of “ten great books” (新浪年度十大好书).
The report points out that despite his popularity in China, his novels are rarely translated. “Whoever is willing to translate [my books], I welcome to come and negotiate the rights. But if no one does, I don’t know where to go to find translators,” says the author himself, perhaps slightly exasperated at the lack of interest from overseas publishers.
As usual, this is a bit of an exaggeration. Several of his books have been translated into French, including the once-banned La capitale déchue (废都). But only one of his novels, Turbulence (浮躁, tr. Howard Goldblatt), appears on Amazon in English. So this is probably more about his failure to gain more prominence in the English-speaking world.
Thus the question: Given his reputation in China, why haven’t most of Jia Pingwa’s novels been translated into European languages?
By Bruce Humes, January 12 '15, 10:11p.m.
Bilingual Han Cadres: Coming Soon to Tibet Autonomous Region?
Book Club Focus on Sun Yisheng 孙一圣
The Writing Chinese Project (University of Leeds) chooses a different author each month for its bookclub.
January's author is Sun Yisheng
Ambivalent Ha Jin: Writer-in-Exile?
In spite of his success, Ha Jin’s prose has divided critics. Unanimously they have celebrated Jin’s courage to write in English — Jin is, of course, a non-native speaker. (In an admiring profile of Jin in 2000, Dwight Garner asked, “How can someone write English so fluidly, yet speak it so haltingly?”) But when John Updike reviewed Jin’s 2007 novel A Free Life, he noted that “the novel rarely gathers the kind of momentum that lets us overlook its language.” Reviewing a collection of Jin’s short stories, The Bridegroom, Claire Messud wrote that “his works read as if he had written them in Chinese and merely undertaken the translations himself.”
Critics suggest that Jin’s flat style results from either the fact that English is not his first language or his desire to convey an effect of translation, so that a reader grasps an “authentic” China. We don’t disagree, but we wonder if a third reason is at work as well: Jin’s ambivalence about his own status as a writer-in-exile mutes his prose.
Pen Promotes Grant Applications
Grants of up to £4000 are available to assist UK publishers with promoting and marketing books being published for the first time in English translation.
Deadline is Friday 13th of February
Liu Ruilin on Imaginist Press and China’s Publishing Future
Ms. Liu Ruilin (刘瑞林) has the clear and calm voice of someone who instantly gets the attention of everybody in a room. The general manager of Beijing BBT Book Publishing Limited and editor-in-chief of Guangxi Normal University Press is an outstanding personality, admired by many in the Chinese publishing world. She manages an “in-between” publishing house — meaning one “in-between systems and in-between topics.”
"Book of Sins" (Chen/Harman) nominated for Translation Award
Chen Xiwo's The Book of Sins (tr. Nicky Harman) has been nominated for the 2014 Typographical Translation Award.
Voting is still open if you'd like to support it. Anyone can vote! Closing date is 31 Jan.
What is Chinese Literature?
As noted earlier, 2014 produced a "bumper crop" of Chinese literature translations in English, but almost all the titles listed are of contemporary fiction and poetry by living or recently deceased writers (and at least one of those titles won't be released until sometime in 2015).*
Yet 2014 also saw the publication of some very significant bronze age works. While China may not have the five thousand-year history the cultural nationalists claim for it, its written history does extend about three thousand years, with texts from that era serving as reference for intellectuals and underpinning longstanding habits of belief. Three of those texts are now available in major new English translations:
By Lucas Klein, December 29 '14, 10:38p.m.
Bloomsbury and Walker Books 'influential in China'
According to book data company Bookdao, which compiled the ranking, Scholastic USA is the most influential foreign publisher, followed by Penguin Random House USA in second position and Casterman, the Belgian publisher of Tintin, in third. Bloomsbury UK was the highest ranking UK-based publisher, coming in at fourth position, and Walker Books UK came in at number 19.
Servant of the State: Zha Jianying on Wang Meng
Confucius was also an indefatigable traveller, and Wang himself shows no signs of slowing down. In September, two weeks before Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize was announced, Wang gave a talk at Harvard’s Asia Center. Before he arrived, he lamented to me how little dialogue there had been, in the post-1989 era, between Chinese and American writers—less, he said, than between Chinese and American military officials. He had prepared his talk in English, in the hopes of speaking across a chasm. At Harvard, he described his childhood deprivations and his youthful involvement in the Chinese revolution. He recalled a conversation he had had when his grandson turned fourteen, the age at which Wang joined the Communist Party. When he criticized the boy for spending too much time on computer games, he replied, “Poor Grandpa, I’m sure you had no toys when you were a kid. If you had a childhood without toys, what else could you do except join the revolution?”
2014: Year of the Chinese Literary Prize (Scandal)?
“If 2013 was ‘Mo Yan Year’, then 2014 was ‘Year of the Literary Prize’ ” writes Chen Mengxi at Beijing Evening News . . .
Critics Diss List of “Most Influential” Translations, Caution Authors to Target Compatriots
Not a few commentators hold the opinion that every writer should actually address the readership in his own land that speaks his language, and with whom he shares a common history and destiny. In other words, the fundamental question is: For whom is the work written, who shall be its premier reader? Only when this is the case, then if our writers become aware of the existence of others readers in the world, this will not be a bad thing.
China & “King Gesar”: Challenges of Putting an Oral Epic to Paper
Time Out Shanghai - China's Best Books 2014
"Our top ten picks for books that tackle new ground in China", including
Death Fugue, by Sheng Keyi, tr Shelly Bryant
Mu Shiying: China’s Lost Modernist, by Andrew Field, and tr Effy Hong
The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver, by Chan Koonchung, tr Nicky Harman
Frog by Mo Yan, tr Howard Goldblatt, review by Isabel Hilton (The Guardian)
"A reader who brings an open mind to Frog, the novel first published in Chinese in 2009, awarded the Mao Dun literary prize in 2011 and now impeccably translated into English by Howard Goldblatt, will discover a subtle if occasionally baggy text that does not slot easily into a political binary."
Yunnan Training Session for Tibetan Writers and Translators
Definitions of “Chinese” Literary Works in Expansion Mode?
In ancient times, the myths, epics and narrative poems of minority ethnicities blossomed with éclat in the garden of Chinese — even global—literature . . .Guan Hanqing (关汉卿), Pu Songling (蒲松龄), Nalan Xingde (纳兰性德), Cao Xueqin (曹雪芹), Abay (Ibrahim) Qunanbayuli (阿拜), Tsangyang Gyatso (仓央嘉措), Maḥmūd al-Kāšġarī (喀什噶理), Ali-Shir Nava’i (纳瓦依), Kutadgu Bilig (福乐智慧), The Gate of Wisdom (真理的入门), Compendium of the languages of the Turks (实厥语大辞典), Secret History of the Mongols (蒙古秘史), Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦), Storied Building with a Single Floor (一层楼), Weeping for the Red Pavilion (泣红亭), and The Story of Qing Dynasty History (青史演义) are all world-renowned authors and works.
"Life of a Mimic": Xinjiang Writer Addresses Sensitive Question of Self-identity
Mixed Reaction to China’s Plan to Send Artists to Countryside
“My first reaction was ‘it’s about time,’ because the profit-driven market has been China’s main thing for over 25 years, and everything is for money, and that’s pretty much out of control right now, and it’s kind of starting to hurt the children, the next generation,” said [Anchee] Min, author of more than works of historical-fiction on Chinese culture. “I go back to China every year and ship boxes of books. It used to be quality literature, but nowadays there are no decent books, really. I find the boxes getting smaller and smaller.”
London Book Fair is offering an International Literary Translation Initiative Award. This is a new prize, set up last year, one of a dozen the LBF is awarding annually. It recognises the contribution of "organisations that have succeeded in raising the profile of literature in translation, promoting literary translators, and encouraging new translators and translated works." Qualified for nomination are: "Any company or organisation operating outside the UK, whose scope of achievement is outside the UK." Last year, the Best Translated Book Award (USA) won it.
So: a prize, a literary magazine, a summer school, a website...all would qualify, and anyone can nominate their favourite "initiative".
The deadline for nominations is 16 January 2015 (webpage currently says 9th, but this will be altered), and all the nominators have to do is fill in a fairly simple form, stating in 300 words why the organisation they're nominating deserves to win. Here's the link to the info
and to the nomination form
By Nicky Harman, December 14 '14, 12:47a.m.
Can Xue - "revelation of the year"
"My revelation of the year came in the tales of the maverick Chinese writer Can Xue. Funny, bizarre, improbable yet oddly moving, her stories in The Last Lover (trans. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen; Yale, £9.99) often arise from the mutual fantasies of East and West. They can sometimes bring Kafka, Ishiguro or Calvino to mind. In the end, though, Can Xue commands a truly unique voice." -- Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
“Most Influential” Chinese Literature in Translation: 2014 Ranking by International Library Purchase
Includes full list of books, authors and translators
Complete Review of Xu Zechen's Running Through Beijing
In its depiction of these lives -- of twenty-somethings who live on the fringes of society (though in this Beijing that's a very broad fringe) -- Running Through Beijing is an engaging and quite interesting read. Yet character and story are both underdeveloped: there's little sense of who these characters are, from their background to their motivations, and the novel is one more of glimpses than continuity, preventing much sense of growth or change. Despite showing these scenes from their lives, readers leave the book with little sense of what might become of them.
Complete Review reviews Murong Xuecun's Leave Me Alone (Chengdu)
Leave Me Alone was apparently first published on the Internet, and still has a jerky, piecemeal feel to it, the story strung together out of small, loud snapshots and episodes that are not entirely smoothly strung together. It doesn't help that Chen is such a volatile character, almost purely impulsive (even though he does hatch a plot or two). As Li Liang tells him:
You know what your problem is ? You don't take seriously the things you're supposed to take seriously, and you're way too serious about the things you should be relaxed about.
Missing vs. “Disappeared”: NYT Translation on Detained Chinese Citizens Blurs the Line
There's an interesting article by Sebastian Veg in China Perspectives that unpacks Yan Lianke's novel Four Books and examines the role of contemporary Chinese fiction in promoting a broader political and historical dialogue. Well worth a read.
Since the scar literature of the early 1980s, fiction and fictionalised autobiography have played an important role in bringing to light the mass violence of the Cultural Revolution. However, these texts remained within a well-defined framework in which the political system itself was not questioned. Over the last decade, by contrast, the Chinese literary field has focused more specifically on the 1950s, with works such as Yang Xianhui’s Chronicles of Jiabiangou (Tianjin, 2002), and Yang Jisheng’s Tombstone (Hong Kong, 2008). This paper focuses on Yan Lianke’s Four Books (Hong Kong, 2010), a full-fledged fictionalisation in a fantastic mode of the famine of the Great Leap Forward in a village on the Yellow River. Considering literature in the context of theories of the public sphere, it suggests that Yan’s book aims to broaden decisively the discussion on certain previously out-of-bounds aspects of the Mao era, an aim only partially thwarted by its failure to be published within mainland China. Four Books, like Yang Jisheng and Yang Xianhui’s works, thus represents an attempt to call into question the original legitimacy of the PRC polity and to create debate within the Chinese-speaking public sphere on the foundations of the current regime.
By Cindy M. Carter, December 3 '14, 3:12a.m.
LA Review: Canyon in the Body
But it’s not just this slice of small village life that makes Lan Lan’s poetry so compelling. Her elusiveness and uncertainty also thrill. Lines are in constant contradiction, her images the stuff of dreams: “My loosened hand holds you tight / The door is shut for you to pass.” There is both recognition and something that escapes our grasp here.
This fragility ends up being a strength. Lan Lan does not shy from self-criticism or doubt. In the beautiful, fragmentary “A Few Grains of Sand” she tells us:
Sometimes I just can’t understand my steamed bun
my rice and the dust on these bookshelves.
I kneel. My ego bends.
Complete Review review of Three Body Problem
Liu offers a variety of adventure along the way, from the virtual reality game that he repeatedly immerses readers in (and which at least moves mercifully quickly), to a rather bizarre plan to get at some information that involves Wang's expertise with nanomaterials, the Panama Canal, and a really hard to believe outcome. The uncertainty -- about the Trisolarians, as well as about science itself ("You really believe that the laws of physics are not invariant across time and space ?" Wang is led to ask) -- is more intriguing, making for a nice air of science fiction mystery to the story. And the clash of those who believe in science and those who seek to undermine technological advancement -- for ideological reasons, above all else, whether during the Cultural Revolution or, for different ones, in the present -- makes for decent tension. The ends to which people are willing to go is not always entirely convincing -- there are a couple of rather casual murders along the way -- but there's a good amount of good-versus-evil ambiguity.
China bans wordplay in attempt at pun control
Officials say casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than ‘cultural and linguistic chaos’, despite their common usage
Impac Dublin 2015 Literary Award: 149 Nominations, 49 Translations, 1 from the Chinese
Writers React to Comrade Xi Jinping’s Foray into Literary Criticism
It has taken a bit of time, but Chinese authors have begun to publicize their reaction to Xi Jinping’s speech at the Beijing Oct 15 Forum on Literature and Art Work. While slavish praise has been appropriately abundant, a handful of Art Workers do not appear to be singing in unison. We’ll skip the former and focus on the latter because they’re more fun.
Book Expo America, the largest US book fair, is schedule for late May 2015, and a certain ancient civilization is going to be the Guest of Honor. That means BEA is going to get the Frankfurt-2009/London-2012 treatment, with a small army of Chinese writers and publishers and "other" descending on New York for a few weeks.
Right about now is when the list of lucky writers is being compiled, and we'll have some small say in the compilation. They'll take into account which writers have recently published books in English (thanks again to Nicky Harman and Helen Wang for their timely compilation. Now I'm going to the peanut gallery with two additional questions:
- Who among you (translators or publishers) have English-language translations coming out next year, ideally (but not necessarily) in the US, and ideally (but not necessarily) in the first half of the year?
- Publications aside, who do you think should go? Who would make an interesting addition to the delegation?
Please comment here, or email me directly. Thanks!
By Eric Abrahamsen, November 18 '14, 9:40p.m.