Chinese Literature in Translation

Resources for:

Pathlight Magazine

Pathlight Cover

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

View all issues

About Links Contact RSS Feed

Recent Posts

CELT Rides Again

The notorious – nay, infamous – Chinese-English Literary Translation course is coming around for its third incarnation this coming September (2014). For five days, translators and writers will gather in Huangshan to pick each other's brains, watch each other work, and try to teach each other a little something. Be part of the event that has launched so many illustrious translation careers! Or at least, introduced some fairly interesting people to one another.

This time, the course is being run by the Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP), in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT), and SAPPRFT.

The course will be held this fall, September 22 to 27. The application deadline is August 10: be sure to send your completed application form and a scan of your passport to before then. Attendance free, but you'll have to get yourself there, and also pay for room and board (I had this wrong intially, my apologies!).

The Chinese-to-English writers and workshop leaders are:

  1. Li Juan, 李娟, led by Andrea Lingenfelter
  2. Li Pingyi, 李平易, led by Bonnie McDougall
  3. A Yi, 阿乙, led by Eric Abrahamsen

For more information about the course, you can download the full information sheet.

By Eric Abrahamsen, July 21 '14, 4:30a.m.

7 comments, viewed 67 times

Free Word Centre, London, 21 July 2014

If you're in London, come and join a lively discussion about the possibility and impossibility of translation, at the FreeWordCentre. Joining Xiaolu Guo for the evening's discussion are her editor-turned-agent Rebecca Carter, and Free Word's former Translator in Residence Nicky Harman. Together, they'll use the novel, I am China as a starting point to explore questions of translation, censorship, Chinese culture, and what it means to call a country your home. Book in advance. It's 21 July 7pm.

By Nicky Harman, July 10 '14, 4:40a.m.

leave a comment, viewed 6 times

Call for Academic Translators in the Humanities

My contact with China-focused academic presses has increased substantially over the past three months or so, and each one of them has come back looking for Chinese to English translators qualified to take on academic projects, usually monographs on topics in the humanities -- Chinese social science, political economy, literary history and theory are just a few examples. Sourcing translators for academic work can be harder than sourcing for trade, for reasons I'll list below, so I thought I would put out an open call here to get everyone's attention.


By Canaan Morse, July 9 '14, 11:38a.m.

leave a comment, viewed 42 times

International Translation Day, British Library, 26 September 2014

Save the date.

Booking here:

By Nicky Harman, June 13 '14, 12:49p.m.

leave a comment, viewed 29 times

Call for China-based "Translator-in-Residence" Program

I recently made a number of suggestions on concrete steps that could help ensure greater success for the “campaign to take Chinese literature global.” They are detailed in Open Letter to China Literary Exports, Inc..

中华读书报 (China Reading Weekly) interviewed me about my proposal, including the establishment of a Translator-in-Residence program. If you'd like to read the interview (in Chinese), and see the part of the draft text that was deleted just before publication, visit 建议建立驻地翻译基金,积极征募外国翻译家到中国短期居住.

By Bruce Humes, June 12 '14, 11:51p.m.

1 comment, viewed 60 times


We're not blocked, are we? 'Course, it's hard to tell these days, they seem to be blocking most everything…

By Eric Abrahamsen, May 24 '14, 4:06a.m.

4 comments, viewed 79 times

China's Banned Books

Great interview on BBC World Service "Fifth Floor"

From the Beeb: "Chan Koon Chung is a Chinese author who writes about ethnicity, sex, and other provocative issues in China. His latest novel has been banned, although like other writers who delve into taboo subjects he remains free to live and continue writing from within China. The book is called The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver, and to talk about its themes we've bring together Vincent Ni from BBC Chinese and Juliana Liu who is based in Hong Kong."

With @nivincent, @julianaliu on @BBC5thfloor

But please! #namethetranslator

By Nicky Harman, May 23 '14, 8:25a.m.

1 comment, viewed 79 times

2014 Translation Database at Three Percent's website

2014 Translation Database at Three Percent is an inspiring list in lots of languages. Any books not on the list? Contact: and he'll add them.

By Nicky Harman, May 21 '14, 11:40a.m.

2 comments, viewed 61 times

“Champa the Driver”: Tibetan Dreamer in an Alien Land

        “ Dreams are so good. Why do we have to make them a reality? ”

What’s a young Tibetan stud to do for a living nowadays in a tourist hotspot like Lhasa? And what happens when his childhood dream—to hang out in the capital of a country called China—comes true?

In the just-published The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver, author Chan Koonchung takes us on a rocky road from Lhasa to Beijing. Along the way he paints disturbing vignettes. An apartheid-in-the-making. The eerie death wish of a would-be self-immolator. The Kafkaesque “black jails” where provincial petitioners who dare air their grievances to the Beijing Mandarins are brutalized, then sent home.

If they’re lucky, that is.


By Bruce Humes, May 14 '14, 2:16a.m.

leave a comment, viewed 58 times

Daughter of the River Review

The following review of Hong Ying's Daughter of the River, by Karen Ma, first ran on the NPR website

Hong Ying's autobiography, Daughter of the River, is doubly astonishing. First, it's an account of the Cultural Revolution that's not written by an intellectual. There's a certain genre of Chinese memoir that looks at upheaval under Mao through an elite lens, and I have to admit, I've been growing tired of those books. But Hong Ying comes from a very different background indeed.

I saw her speak at a literary festival in Jaipur, India in 2011, where she told the audience how she grew up along the Yangtze River in the slums of Chongqing — China's largest and most crowded city — and survived the great famines and Mao's failed political campaigns as a bastard child in abject poverty. I bought her memoir immediately. Her speech had touched me — but her book blew me away.


By Eric Abrahamsen, April 22 '14, 5:47a.m.

2 comments, viewed 87 times

"Translate in the City" Literary Translation Summer School 2014, London, UK

Monday 23rd- Friday 27th June 2014. Details here

By Nicky Harman, April 4 '14, 3:53p.m.

leave a comment, viewed 102 times

New story by Wu Ming-yi

Beijinger Dave Haysom has uploaded a new story, ‘The Magician on the Footbridge’, by Wu Ming-yi here.

By Nicky Harman, March 30 '14, 5:10a.m.

leave a comment, viewed 50 times

The Weird and Wonderful World of Dorothy Tse's Hong Kong - review by ARB

Asian Review of Books' Peter Gordon has just reviewed Snow and Shadow, short stories by Dorothy Tse, translated by me. Great, thought-provoking review.

By Nicky Harman, March 30 '14, 5:07a.m.

leave a comment, viewed 48 times

Poetry Night in Beijing Featured Poets Announced

I'm a picture.

(Top: Peter Behr, Stephen Nashef, Edward Ragg. Bottom: Emily Stranger, Yuan Yang.)

Last month we made an open call for poets to participate in a curated community event at the Bookworm Literary Festival, and the response was exceptional. Please consider this our official thank you to all who answered. The curators of Poetry Night in Beijing -- Canaan Morse, Helen Wing and Eleanor Goodman -- read nearly 200 poems before finally (painstakingly) choosing five writers whose works resonated with them in style and substance.

Please keep in mind that the process of evaluating art is imperfect and the final decisions are always subjective. Nonetheless, we'd like to congratulate our featured poets who will be reading this Sunday at 8 pm at the Bookworm:


By Canaan Morse, March 14 '14, 5:34a.m.

leave a comment, viewed 118 times