Yi Love Story: First-ever Film Shot in Yi Language Premieres in Chengdu
Yes, language is political. So it’s refreshing to see that the unspoken ban on non-Han languages in Chinese cinema has clearly ended. In Taiwan, Seediq Bale—shot entirely in Seediq—was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Oscars. On the mainland, Pema Tseden’s Old Dog in Tibetan has also won international acclaim.
Now it’s the turn of the Yi (彝), who number eight million and live primarily in rural and mountainous areas of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi . . .
Stage adaptation of short story by Yu Hua
Joy Child: Two brothers, their wives, and their young sons share a small flat with their dying mother. When tragedy strikes, the after-effects take an unusual form. Joy Child, a stage adaptation of a short story by Chinese author Yu Hua, explores the nature of revenge and the promise of ‘the future’.
-- The short story is 《现实一种》 One Kind of Reality
The Istanbul Book Fair, Xinjiang Connections and Wang Gang's "English"
When Chinese author Wang Gang brought a smile to the faces of his Turkish listeners as he recounted how a musician back in Xinjiang had sung him a tune dubbed “Istanbul” just a few days ago, it’s unlikely few in the audience recognized the irony.
After all, the theme of China’s presence at the 2013 Istanbul Book Fair is Ipak Yolu—Yeni Sayfa (The Silk Road—A New Page). One major traditional Silk Road route began in Chang’an, today’s Xi’an, and ended in Constantinople, today’s Istanbul, skirting Xinjiang's deadly Taklamakan Desert along the way.
Plum in the Golden Vase: More Topical than Ever?
When the first volume of The Plum in the Golden Vase [金瓶梅] came out in 1994 the Roy translation was received with rapturous applause. Over the following 19 years, the novel has become more topical by the year. In that time, erotic fiction has come to inhabit a position of near-total dominance in the publishing industry, basically paying for all the rest of fiction, and the rise of China has made everybody who reads the newspapers familiar with figures of corruption in Imperial — excuse me, Communist Party — circles.
I’ve been reading about Hsi-Men Ch’ing for years. His name has been Zhang Shugang and Jiang Jiemin and Bo Xilai. Just today it was revealed that one of the major causes of the condo boom in Beijing is the need to house so many mistresses — a fact that could have come straight from the Chin Ping Mei. The book is 400 years old, but its moment is right now.
Yu Hua on China's Not-so-Laughable Anti-Pollution Policies
Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing, is China’s top steel-producing province. Steel plants play a big role in air and water pollution, but the city of Cangzhou’s answer to the problem is an anti-smoking campaign.
A Hebei official newspaper, Yanzhao Dushi Bao, reported in July that local officials in Cangzhou held a public meeting pledging their commitment to the anti-smoking cause. With smoke billowing from the chimneys of factories in the distance, officials promoted the slogan: “Curbing air pollution starts with me!”
Simon & Schuster to Launch Series of Translated Chinese Fiction
. . . Simon and Schuster’s trade imprint acquired from Yilin [Press] the world English rights to a select group of books, made up of nonfiction titles about Chinese culture and history as well as popular and critically acclaimed fiction, including such authors as Shen Congwen, Lu Xun, Bing Xin, Ye Zhaoyan, and Su Tong, some of whom have never been translated into English. Simon & Schuster will publish the first list of eight titles in Spring of 2014.
Censored on the Way to China
Qiu Xiaolong, a St. Louis-based novelist whose mystery thrillers are set in Shanghai, said Chinese publishers who bought the first three books in his Inspector Chen series altered the identity of pivotal characters and rewrote plot lines they deemed unflattering to the Communist Party. Most egregiously, he said, publishers insisted on removing any references to Shanghai, replacing it with an imaginary Chinese metropolis called H city because they thought an association with violent crime, albeit fictional, might tarnish the city’s image.
Review: "The Man with Compound Eyes"
What do you expect when you pick up a novel – very probably your first – from Taiwan? A spiky assertion of independence, perhaps, or wistful, Japanese-inspired fables? The literary landscape of mainland China has begun to take shape for western readers, but that of Taiwan remains a blank – despite the island's sophisticated and long-established publishing industry. The English translation of Wu Ming-Yi's intriguing fourth work of fiction simultaneously plunges the reader into the melting pot of contemporary Taiwanese fiction and refuses any attempt to define it.
Murong Xuecun: Busting China's Bloggers
BEIJING — A frequent topic of conversation among my friends here has been: Who will be arrested next?
Some of us met recently for dinner and started a list of potential candidates. We included outspoken scholars, writers and lawyers who have discussed democracy and freedom, criticized the government and spoken out for the disadvantaged.
Four Poems by Gu Cheng Tr. by Aaron Crippen
don’t go to sleep, don’t
Dear, the road is long yet
don’t go too near
the forest’s enticements, don’t lose hope
write the address
in snowmelt on your hand
or lean on my shoulder
as we pass the hazy morning
China and the Nobel Prize: Four Essays on Classic Chinese Authors
¤ Monkeying Around with the Nobel Prize: Wu Cheng'en's Journey to the West by Julia Lovell
¤ A Monument to What Might Have Been: Qian Zhongshu's Fortress Besieged by Brendan O'Kane
¤ Getting The Good Earth’s Author Right: On Pearl S. Buck by Charles W. Hayford
¤ Untidy Endings: Lao She by Paul French
Books on contemporary China welcomed by foreign publishers
Back in 2000, Chinese titles included in the event totalled just 2400. But by 2009 that number had increased to 6398. In 2000, China signed contracts on 953 items of copyright trade; twelve years later in 2012, the number climbed to 2682. [...] 160 Chinese exhibitors have attended this year’s fair. Exhibitors say instead of relying on promotional activities sponsored by the Chinese government, now Chinese books are attracting attention on their own. In addition, previously it was just the big publishing houses who attended, but now more small scale, less known publishers have a presence. Moreover, foreign publishers are seeking to promote their books to Chinese publishers and distributors at the fair, hoping to take a share of the promising Chinese book market.
Liao Yiwu: The Prison Notebooks
A quip from another era, usually attributed to Aldous Huxley, defined an intellectual as someone—presumably a man—who discovers there are more interesting things in life than women. Reading the exiled Chinese poet and writer Liao Yiwu suggests a less sexist corollary to this badly dated notion: the best writers are artists who have learnt that other people are more interesting than themselves.
China's most beautiful bookshop ... in a car park
No glamorous chandeliers, no extravagant façade -- to find the most beautiful bookshop in China, travelers just have to follow the yellow-striped road to an underground car park.
Before Librairie Avant-Garde owner Qian Xiaohua, 50, obtained the 4,000-square-meter underground space beneath Wutaishan Stadium in Nanjing in 1999, it was a government car park and, earlier, a bomb shelter.
Two new French editions of Wang Xiaobo
I'll admit that, as a non-French-speaker, it's a little hard to figure out what's going on here, but more publications of Wang Xiaobo has to be a good thing!
*All of Chinese Literature Condensed*, premiere 10-13 Oct
Theatre UCF graduate student Whit Emerson will present a new full-length play in the UCF Performing Arts Center on Oct. 10-13. The comedy, titled All of Chinese Literature Condensed covers 10 major works of literature that contribute to modern day Chinese culture.
The play is written in a style reminiscent of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s series of plays (The Bible Abridged, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged) in that it comically distills a huge body of work into short, comprehensible scenes.
In Nobel Win, Ho Ai Li of Singapore’s Straits Times notes that Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize—regardless of how his own writing is perceived abroad—is helping to spark interest in translated Chinese fiction. Since most of us won’t be able to get beyond the pay wall, I’ve selected three choice quotes from the article below. But pls resist the temptation to re-tweet Eric’s words on your Weibo account, as we’d hate to see his visa renewal application denied next time round . . .
By Bruce Humes, October 2 '13, 3:01a.m.
Three Percent interview with Can Xue
A good question. I also think that the Chinese know much more about America and the West than you know about China. In China, in the early eighties, a group of young writers studied western literature quite deeply, and these western classics opened their field of vision. They produced quite a number of good works. Can Xue was one among them. The group are all born in fifties or sixties—a very idealistic group. That was a literary era full of hope. But since the nineties, almost everybody in this group has changed their mind. They felt that they had had enough the West, and now want to return to their own tradition, which is much greater than the Western tradition. So their works, except a very few writers, have become more and more traditional, more and more readable. People welcomed this great regression. But I think this returning is the death of a language and a soul. Because our own cultural tradition has not got enough strength to support a new writing, the only way to develop it is by blood transfusion. I think as a Chinese writer, I should criticize my culture severely, only having done so, I get the possibility to develop it.
As for my own writing, the readers in China think that I’m very difficult but unique among Chinese writers. I dare say, no fiction writers in China has studied the Western literature and Western philosophy so exhaustively like Can Xue.
Wang Anyi: Chevalier
French ambassador to China Sylvie Bermann presented the knights badge of the Order of Arts and Letters to Wang Anyi, a renowned Chinese author, in Shanghai, east China, September 26, 2013.
Chinese Literature as Seen from India
“THE CHINESE THINK, act, and feel almost exactly like us; and we soon find that we are perfectly like them, except that all they do is more clear, pure, and decorous, than with us,” Goethe is reported to have enthusiastically declared after reading a Chinese novel.
Is it possible to have a different view on China from India? Might we read Chinese literature neither out of eagerness for an exotic difference nor to come away amazed at a common humanity, but rather with the awareness of certain cultural, historical and social affinities and a curiosity about how their writers and ours interpret them in fiction? Given these affinities, could we approach Chinese literature more organically and not, following the Western model, as one more instance of ‘otherness’ to be annexed to the compendium of world literature?
To help the nation recover the revolutionary spirit, a new – lightly edited for political correctness, or annotated perhaps? – version of Mao's Little Red Book will reportedly hit the shelves soon (Revamp):
The new version is due for release in November, just before the 120th anniversary of Mao's birth. Its chief editor, Chen Yu – a senior colonel at the Academy of Military Science – describes it as a voluntary initiative. "We just want to edit the book, as other scholars work on the Analects of Confucius… We don't have a complicated political purpose," said Chen.
Sounds innocent enough . . .
By Bruce Humes, September 28 '13, 12:16a.m.
Last Quarter of the Moon: Now Available Online in China
Narrated in the first person by the aged wife of the last chieftain of an Evenki clan, Chi Zijian's Last Quarter of the Moon is a moving tale of the decline of reindeer-herding nomads in the sparsely populated, richly forested mountains that border on Russia.
Over the last three centuries, three waves of outsiders have encroached upon the Evenki’s isolated way of life: the Russians, whose warring and plundering eventually pushed the Evenki down from Siberia across to the southern (“right”) bank of the Argun River, the tributary of the Amur that defines the Sino-Russian border; the Japanese, who forcibly recruit them into the ranks of the Manchukuo Army; and the Han Chinese of the People’s Republic, who fell the forests that are crucial to the survival of reindeer, outlaw hunting, and eventually coerce the Evenki to leave the mountains for life in a “civilized” permanent settlement.
For links to reviews of the English novel in French, Spanish, English and Chinese, as well as an interview with the translator and an excerpt from the novel, visit Evenki Odyssey.
By now you've probably seen Flavorwire's 50 Works of Fiction in Translation That Every English Speaker Should Read. I found it presumptuously titled, annoyingly laid out, and repetitively repetitive in its tastemaking, but at least it covers the standards, some works I've been meaning to read, and some books I'm glad to be introduced to (I get annoyed by the privileging of fiction over other literary genres, but novels serve at least to limit the selection criteria).
But evidently Jason Diamond, who compiled the list, doesn't believe the fiction of the world's longest-standing civilization, its most populous country, and a rising power on the global stage (with two Nobel literature laureates in the last fifteen years) deserves to be read by every English speaker. Among the fifty novels listed, with many repeats of Russian, Spanish, French, and German, not a single one was written in Chinese or by a Chinese writer.
By Lucas Klein, September 21 '13, 10:26a.m.
Propaganda Banner Photography Project
Subtitles is broken into three “chapters,” the first takes a direct look at official Communist Party banners that hang in the side streets of Shanghai’s poorest neighborhoods – the bureaucratic slogans become menacing gashes amidst crumbling homes, empty alleys and the promise of worse to come. In his second chapter, Leleu riffs on the government’s use of banners by fabricating his own, printing alternative slogans on them and hanging them himself. Photographs in the third and final chapter show blank red banners strung up in rural settings, a silent cry from nature far away from the political noise of urban China.
A Yi in Granta: Excerpt and Translators Note
As I read through this story for the first time, and reached the point where A Yi compares the relationship between urban and rural Chinese to that between blacks and whites in America, I felt that twinge of quiet mortification you get whenever someone outside your culture wanders in and starts cheerfully man-handling its most sensitive parts. There are certain social issues that exist more concretely as a set of rules for how to talk about them than they do as issues themselves, and when someone who doesn’t know the rules goes barging in, generally all you can do is wince a little and hope it will be over soon.
SCMP Runs Another Lame Review
In February the South China Morning Post ran a review I called “horribly written” and said made me feel “embarrassed to say I like the translations in a book that could inspire such homely homilies.”
Here’s another stupid review of contemporary Chinese poetry in the SCMP, of I Can Almost See the Clouds of Dust 我几乎看到滚滚尘埃 by Yu Xiang 宇向, translated by Fiona Sze-Lorrain.
Mo Yan's Nobel and Chinese Fiction Exports: Time to "Serve the Reader"?
. . . renewed interest in defining what constitutes a “good” literary translation comes in the wake of the awarding of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature to China’s Mo Yan (莫言). Chinese translation professionals—and government officials keen on expanding the country’s soft power overseas—are searching for lessons to be drawn from Mo Yan’s resounding success.
One key lesson could be that China’s customary academic emphasis on word-for-word translation, in the belief it yields the greatest accuracy, doesn’t actually fly, marketing-wise. The article points out that Mo Yan’s English translator, Howard Goldblatt, edited freely as he translated (连译带改) Mo Yan’s Garlic Ballads (天堂蒜薹之歌), and that the German publisher chose to base its translation on the English too.
Chinese Fiction in Translation: Novels with "Ethnic" Theme (Tabulated)
In China is Focusing on the Fringes published by The Guardian in March this year, literary translator Nicky Harman presciently pointed out that “independent–minded Chinese writers are becoming seriously interested in the geographical fringes of ‘China proper’, drawing on its people, their traditions and conflicts at work.” And as you can see in the table below, foreign publishers are interested . . .
Chinese literature translation contest launched
The China International Translation Contest 2013 organizing committee has chosen 30 award-winning pieces of contemporary Chinese short stories from renowned writers including Jia Pingwa, Wang Anyi and Nobel prize winner Mo Yan.
Participants are required to choose one of the 30 stories to translate into English, French, Russian, Spanish, or Arabic and submit their works before Feb. 28, 2014.
The top prize for each language will be 5,000 U.S. dollars.
Alai's The Song of King Gesar reviewed by B J Epstein
Tibetan writer Alai’s novel The Song of Gesar, translated from Chinese by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Lin, explores what’s in the hearts of both humans and deities. It’s an epic story from Tibet, told by generations of bards, and now in a written format by Alai; the author of a number of novels and collections of poetry and short stories (besides Gesar, only his novel Red Poppies seems available in English).
Such passages make the reader (and the characters) wonder whether the gods actually care about humans. Will they help humans or do they expect humans to sort things out on their own? What actually would be best for people? And what are the deities up to anyway? As this might show, The Song of Gesar is part of Canongate’s brilliant Myths series (which also includes work by Ali Smith, Klas Östergren, and Margaret Atwood, among many other important writers), and it’s a vital addition, as this is the first time the Tibetan story has appeared in English.
"Human shadows flicker to and fro over the double-paned windows, followed by threads of tiny lights that run across the glass like hairline cracks, then vanish instantly. When the train arrives at a station, the windows all light up, admitting the shadows of those without. Yet the light dispersed into the train car washes out the view of things inside..."
Wang Anyi, In The Belly of the Fog
By Canaan Morse, September 4 '13, 5:41a.m.
Yep! We're finally on the 140-character social media scene. Have a question? Tweet at us @PathlightMag.
By Canaan Morse, September 3 '13, 6:27a.m.
2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards
We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards (for works published in 2012) ... The jury has additionally elected to award three honorable mentions in each category.
Long Form Winner
Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City by Kai-cheung Dung, translated from the Chinese by Anders Hansson, Bonnie S. McDougall, and the author (Columbia University Press)
Short Form Honorable Mentions
“A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” by Xia Jia, translated from the Chinese by Ken Liu (Clarkesworld #65)
The Atlantic: Why Chinese People Don't Read
But these approaches prompt the question: Has China left its golden age of reading forever behind?
Today's China is far different from the closed society in the 1980s, then convalescing from decades of devastating political movements and hungry for intellectual nourishment. It is difficult to imagine that the reading renaissance during that period, kindled by this hunger, would return today. Amid the grim outlook of China's book industry, however, a curious case has emerged: Last December, the Chinese version of the first part of James Joyce's 1939 novel Finnegans Wake was published after an English professor in a Shanghai university spent eight grueling years translating it. The book became an unexpected hit, with its first run of 8,000 copies sold out in a month.
LRB Review of Three Mo Yan Novels
Yet The Republic of Wine had a catalysing effect on Mo Yan’s career. It made him believe that he could write large, ambitious novels of the sort that many in his generation – Yu Hua, Su Tong, Wang Anyi – would write in the 1990s and 2000s. Big Breasts and Wide Hips, a family saga that runs from the turn of the 20th century up to the early post-Mao period, confirms that this capacity was beyond him. Rather than evading death and atrocity, as Mo Yan’s critics claim, the novel is overburdened by them. Filled, like a classical Chinese novel, with a huge network of characters from many families, Big Breasts and Wide Hips gets into narrative difficulty keeping up with them all against the churning historical background.
MCLC Review of Perry Link's New "An Anatomy of Chinese"
On the flip side, the richly homophonic nature of spoken Chinese opens up endless possibilities for punning, which has often been used, along with parody and double entendre, to satirize the hypocrisy of official speech and to dodge the effects of widespread censorship. For all the comic relief offered by occasional acts of resistance, however, Link is understandably pre-occupied with what the long-term effects on public culture might be of several generations of Chinese living and breathing a language so severely twisted and constrained by the machinations of a repressive one-party state. While he does not underestimate the difficulty of recognizing, let alone breaking free of a tainted or impoverished language, he sees cause for guarded optimism in the opportunities for greater freedom of experimentation and self-expression that technology has made available in recent years.
WSJ: New Releases of Lao She's Works
“Cat Country,” considered by some to be the first Chinese science-fiction novel, is out next month in a new edition as part of Penguin China’s Modern Classics series. A second Lao She book, “Mr. Ma and Son,” first published in 1929, is also being made available in English this month for the first time in many years. Both are part of Penguin’s bet that there is a growing market for English translations of Chinese literature.
“Cat Country” is a dystopian story that reads like a hybrid of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and “1984,” a thinly veiled condemnation of Chinese society that predicts a world of corruption, violence and xenophobia.
Complete Review, Zujie-related rant
As I often remind readers, the publishing 'business' (and its models) are entirely beyond my understanding, but ... holy shit, this can't be the way things are done, can it? We're talking about Chinese here, not some obscure language spoken by a few million, or a few tens of millions of people. And there are publishing professionals relying on ... the Italian version ? (And shelling out $60,000 on the basis of that .....)
What's particularly interesting here is (the claim) that:
The novel by Shanghai author Xiao Bai sold only moderately well in China, but it has the elements that appeal to Western readers.
Yes, it isn't even a particularly successful Chinese novel -- but, apparently, perceived to be a Western-reader-friendly one. Yes, clearly this book sold (to US publishers, etc.) not on the basis of its Chinese success or qualities, but on the basis of its Italian success.
David Mitchell Translation Contest on Douban
Award-winning novelist David Mitchell is using the Douban Read platform, part of Douban, which is one of China’s biggest online cultural communities, to launch a translation contest for two of his short stories today (1 August 2013).
The contest is the first stage of a new collaborative research project led by Nesta, working with Douban Read, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Council and The Literary Platform. The translation contest is designed to generate qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the Chinese market for British writing.
Free Word London ("a global meeting place for literature, argument and free thinking") are offering two places on its Translators in Residence programme for 2014. Any languages can be offered by interested applicants. More information, including deadline for application, available here: http://www.freewordonline.com/info/work-for-us/
By Nicky Harman, August 1 '13, 10a.m.
Xu Zechen on N+1 Website
My friend Qingzhou went to Sichuan on a business trip, and on May 12, 2008, he was buried under a small four-story building. Before he realized he was in an earthquake, he assumed the building was swaying because he’d drunk too much. He’d downed nearly a litre at noon, but it was worth it—he’d closed the deal. He felt himself collapsing drunkenly, his body listing to one side, all his movements in slow motion. It wasn’t the way the news described it later, the whole world transformed—bang!—in an instant. His last thoughts before he blacked out were: This is some booze. When it puts you down, the whole world comes rattling down with you.
Henry W. Leung reviews Bai Hua's Wind Says
Wind Says, a polyphonic composition that includes translated poems on facing pages with the original Chinese, excerpts twenty-five years of Bai Hua's work. Also included in this volume are an interview from 2010 between the poet and his translator, and an exceptional translator's 'prelude' written as a zuihitsu of cuts and observations across time, honoring the tone and promise of Bai's work even as it reveals the brightness of Fiona Sze-Lorrain's own engagement with his work as a poet herself. The title of the book succinctly characterizes Bai's style—restless, murmuring, with an impressionistic brevity of image—and also displays Sze-Lorrain's translating prowess. The title is just as metrically and syntactically immediate as the original Chinese, precisely because the absence of a preceding article—"Wind Says"—makes it ungrammatical while still sounding idiomatically acute.
An Imp Makes Detours on the Road to Enlightenment
A review of a stage version of Monkey: A Journey to the West performed at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York:
As portrayed by the impishly funny Mr. Wang, wearing a yellow track suit and a floppy tail, Monkey exudes animal spirits that are more or less untameable. When the Buddha himself intervenes in Monkey’s fate, stretching forth a giant blue hand to tamp down his unruly excesses, this ornery creature has the nerve to urinate in his palm, for which he pays a heavy price. Even at his lowest points, he finds the energy to keep scratching away at his crotch and emitting the high-pitched oo-oo-ing and ah-ah-ing that signify monkeyhood. . .
Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards
The Association for the Recognition of Excellence in SF & F Translation (ARESFFT) is delighted to announce the finalists for the 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards (for works published in 2012). There are two categories: Long Form and Short Form.
Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City by Kai-cheung Dung, translated from the Chinese by Anders Hansson, Bonnie S. McDougall, and the author (Columbia University Press).
“The Flower of Shazui” by Chen Qiufan, translated from the Chinese by Ken Liu (Interzone #243).
“A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” by Xia Jia, translated from the Chinese by Ken Liu (Clarkesworld #65).
Evan Osnos on street cleaner poet
When I moved to Beijing, in 2005, to write, I was accustomed to hearing the story of China’s transformation told in vast, sweeping strokes—involving one fifth of humanity, and great pivots of politics and economics. But, over the next eight years, some of the deepest changes in the lives around me have been intimate and perceptual, buried in daily rhythms that are easy to overlook. ..... in my years in China, I have been seized most of all by the sense that the national narrative, once an ensemble performance, is splintering into a billion stories.
Mindy Zhang on Chinese Poetry
A blog post by Mindy Zhang on the Poetry International Rotterdam website, in which discusses her changes to "routine strategies in translation practice."
While Ezra Pound and other pioneer poet-translators were able to “make it new” by transforming the old Chinese formal poetry into free verse, what can we do as contemporaries of the Chinese New Poetry which is already free verse? To make new something already supposedly new is a challenge.
Jia Pingwa's latest novel sells 1.5 million copies in 5 months
By selling nearly 1 million hard copies and 500,000 ebooks of his latest novel in just five months, Jia Pingwa reasserted his status in the top echelons of Chinese contemporary authors.
"Dai Deng" is the story of how a female university graduate became a local official in a northwest China town. There, the graduate names herself Dai Deng, which means "carrying a lamp," and works hard to settle disputes between local residents, though mostly in vain.
He knows that many critics and readers are skeptical about the importance of examining China's rural culture, which the country's rapid urban development is leaving in a precarious state. But Jia maintained that rural residents still account for half of China's 1.3 billion population and they deserve attention and respect from both authors and readers.
"Mega-cities like Beijing and Shanghai and numerous poor counties together form the reality of China. They are like two sides of a coin, and I choose to address the dark side," he said.
Journal of Modern Literature Call for Papers in Translation Studies
Call for Papers
We welcome papers on translation studies, with a particular interest on the translation of American texts into Chinese and of Chinese texts into English for American readers. What kind of literature may result if these world powers become conversant in each other's literatures? What are the challenges, imbalances, and theoretical issues confronting transnational/ translational exchange in general? We are looking for papers that connect translation to issues of power and cultural identity, as well as papers that address translation from other angles, both practical and theoretical.
Submission period: ENDS December 31, 2012.
I just got back from my temporary cubicle space at the operations headquarters of the Rotterdam – ArtsBeijing.com International PoetrySync Festival, an online event held concurrently here in Beijing and at the International Poetry Festival Rotterdam, which is going on as I type.
By Canaan Morse, June 14 '13, 1:29p.m.
Ten Contemporary Chinese Novels
In a country of 1.3 billion people, gaining national recognition is no easy feat. Rather than looking back to past literary classics, or exhuming the revolutionary memories of an older generation, Chinese novelists today write about the increasingly capitalistic and consumer-centred world they see and experience. These ten novels reflect the state of contemporary China today.
Asymptote Translation Contest
Would you like to be in a magazine that has published new translations of
Shen Congwen, Liao Yiwu, Xi Chuan and Yang Mu, presented a Sinophone "20
under 40," and interviewed Yiyun Li, Hsia Yü and, for the upcoming issue,
Can Xue? Would you like your work seen and judged by our contributing
editor Howard Goldblatt (fiction) and Bei Dao's current translator Eliot
Weinberger (poetry)? Most importantly, is there an untranslated or
little-translated writer that you are desperately, maddeningly determined
to bring to the attention of the English-speaking world?
Then submit to "Close Approximations," Asymptote's first ever contest for
emerging translators! Thanks to your generous support of our IndieGogo
campaign, we can make it worth your while: the winner of each category
will receive 1,000 USD, as well as the opportunity to publish with
So polish up that desk drawer full of worked-over and scribbled-on
manuscripts. The deadline is September 1st, 2013.
The Spring 2013 issue of Pathlight is out the door! This issue,
featured loosely around "The Future", features several works of
science fiction by some of China's best sci-fi writers, including Liu
Cixin, Chen Qiufan and Hao Jingfang, and an overview of the genre by
Wu Yan and Xing He.
There's also a dreamscape by Can Xue, a rural romp (and fascinating
Q&A) by Han Shaogong, and a poetry section curated by Yi Sha,
featuring China's youngest generation of poets.
See a full table of contents at the link above. This issue is
available as a digital download on both Amazon and the iTunes
By Eric Abrahamsen, June 6 '13, 1:53a.m.
Three Percent on Pathlight
It is kind of stunning that given the size of China, the insane number of writers who live there, and the general interest in what’s going on in the country on the whole, there were only 16 works by Chinese writers translated into English and published here in 2012. One can trot out all the normal reasons to explain why this might be the case, but the biggest in my mind is the utter lack of awareness among U.S. editors as to what’s going on in Chinese literature these days.
Which is why I’m going to be reading more issues of Pathlight ...
Letters from Qian Zhongshu to be auctioned, Yang Jiang Threatens Lawsuit
A Beijing auction house says it has no plans to withdraw an acclaimed scholar's letters and manuscripts from sale despite protests from his 102-year-old widow and legal experts.
On June 21, the Sungari International Auction Co Ltd is selling 66 letters Qian Zhongshu wrote to a family friend.
The sale also includes the original copy of "Six Chapters from My Life 'Downunder,'" featuring his wife's memoir of their life in Henan Province during the "cultural revolution (1966-1976)," and letters from his daughter, Qian Yuan, to the friend.
Yang Jiang, the writer's widow, said her husband made some controversial remarks in the letters that it would be inappropriate to publish. He insinuates that two famous literary figures, Lu Xun and Mao Dun, were unfaithful to their wives and that a couple, both famous translators, had not interpreted a Chinese classic well.
LARB Interview with Howard Goldblatt
SS: Did similar good fortune play a role in leading you toward Mo Yan?
HG: During a research fellowship year in Manchuria, I read a deeply affecting story of his. Soon after that, I ran into a friend who’d signed up half a dozen young writers, planning to publish story collections of each in English. Unrealistic. I saw he’d included Mo Yan, so I talked him into “releasing” him to me. No one told Mo Yan, of course. The following year, a friend sent me a copy of what would become in English The Garlic Ballads, and I was hooked. I wrote to Mo Yan, care of the now-notorious Writers Association, asking for permission to translate and locate a publisher. He had no idea who I was, but was happy to find a broader readership for his work. Before that happened, however, I read and fell in love with Red Sorghum, got his permission to switch, and, well, it was a good beginning.
China Expat Anthology: Unsavory Elements
On Thursday, May 23, 6-8pm, at Hong Kong’s Bookazine Landmark Prince’s, join publisher Graham Earnshaw, editor Tom Carter and authors Nury Vittachi, Bruce Humes and Pete Spurrier to discuss their new anthology, Unsavory Elements: Stories of Foreigners on the Loose in China, an unprecedented collection of true tales from 28 laowai writers—including Mark Kitto, Peter Hessler and Simon Winchester—about their experiences living in the 21st-century Middle Kingdom.
English PEN translation grant open for application
PEN Translates! is English PEN’s new grants scheme for translation. Launched in 2012 at the London Book Fair, this unique new fund is open to submissions from all UK-based publishers. Building on the success of English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme, we are committed to supporting: Works of outstanding literary merit, Strong and innovative publishing projects, Diverse writing from around the world.
PEN Translates! will fund up to 75% of translation costs for selected projects. When a publisher’s annual turnover is less than £100,000 we will consider supporting up to 100% of translation costs.
LARB Interview with Fei Dao
I feel lots of people are prejudiced against sci fi. They think that if you’re a certain age and still read sci fi, that’s immature and unrealistic, like you are letting your fantasies run wild. So I think that prejudice is a problem. But now that Three Body (三体) [by Liu Cixin] has been publically praised, I hope that is slowly changing people’s opinion.
Why This Book Should Win: "Notes on the Mosquito" by Xi Chuan [Best Translated Book Award 2013]
Lucas Klein brings the poems into an English that feels lively and forceful, apparent in both the lineated and the prose poems, all of which sound intriguingly new and yet spoken by a familiar friend. He has not made these poems American, but rather allowed us to hear Xi Chuan’s poetics and ideas in an American idiom, in an English that is alive with personality. Klein’s knowledge of Chinese culture and history allows references to appear without explanation or odd framing. Rather, he translates the impulse of the poems so that we might eavesdrop on one of the more important conversations about national identity happening in poetry.
Here is a fascinating podcast on translating and subtitling and working with Chinese directors from That's Beijing. With Brendan O'Kane and Linda Jaivin.
By Nicky Harman, April 23 '13, 5:38a.m.
More than a year after we began publishing Pathlight magazine, we're very pleased to announce that it is now available around the world as an e-book. The most recent issue, featuring exclusive Mo Yan content, can be found in three places:
On the Apple iBookstore
As an annual subscription for university libraries. If you think your university might be interested in a subscription, please ask your librarian to find us in the EBSCO catalog. If your institution doesn't use EBSCO, you can email us about it directly.
Apologies for the US-centric links above – if you live in a country with its own domestic Amazon/iTunes store, the magazine will also be available on the local variant of that platform. Future issues will continue to be made available through these channels.
The entire point of a project like Pathlight is that it be available to as wide a readership as possible, and that hasn't quite been the case over the past year, to put it mildly. On behalf of our authors and our translators (and ourselves!), we're celebrating right now.
By Eric Abrahamsen, April 23 '13, 12:40a.m.
We're very pleased to announce that Paper Republic has partnered with
China Book Business Report and Shanghai Eastern Book Data to begin
producing monthly reports on the Chinese book market. The reports
consist of bestseller lists (general and by category, both overall
and for newly-published books), general market analysis, and rankings
of Chinese publishing houses according to a variety of indicators.
We've created a sample monthly report for December, 2012, which you
can download here (PDF).
These reports are something we've been planning for quite some time,
and we're confident they'll be indispensable to anyone wanting an
in-depth familiarity with the book market in China, and an up-to-date
window on how it's changing.
As a bonus, we've also produced an overview of the Chinese publishing
industry for 2011, which you can download here (PDF).
We're excited about this initiative! The lack of timely information
about what's going on in China has been a major stumbling block for
many potential connections between the Chinese and international
publishing industries – this ought to go quite some way to remedying
By Eric Abrahamsen, April 18 '13, 2:21a.m.
I am very glad to let everyone know that new things will be coming from Paper Republic in the very, very near future. While most of you know us as a community and a discussion group for translators, writers, academics and all others interested in Chinese literature, fewer of you know of Paper Republic, Ltd., the US- and Hong Kong-registered company that has been building business incrementally for two years now.
That company is about to step a little farther into the open. Check back on the site in the course of the next day or two to discover how this institution is ready to serve publishers and readers worldwide.
By Canaan Morse, April 17 '13, 11:19a.m.
Jonathan Stalling Reviews Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness
Jacob Edmond opens the work with a shot across the bow of more conventional two-tradition comparative studies of poetry by referencing what now seems like an anachronistic Fredric Jameson criticizing Bob Perelman's poem "China" written at the time when China still appeared largely outside academia's western/US frames of reference. If Jameson saw LANGUAGE writing practices like Perelman's poem as symptomatic of the fragmentation of the "cultural logic of late capitalism," what, Edmond leads us on to wonder, would he make of poetics of the hyper-capitalism of twenty-first century Beijing, Shanghai, or Shenzhen? This is to say, Edmond starts off with a critical dialogue that foregrounds the radical global transformations that have taken place under the feet of scholars and poets during the 1980s (USSR crumbles and China "rises" while America lounges forward into a prolonged post-structuralized culture war, etc.). Edmond notes that the global dislocations that have taken root following the Cold War "mean not just separation or estrangement from home and nation, but an aesthetic that question the solidity of the relationship between word and world through writing that foregrounds its own strangeness" (6). Therefore, Edmond moves from the sociological strangeness of late-late capitalism to the aesthetic strangeness of avant-garde language practices and conceptualist technologies citing these latter as the most appropriate texts for decoupling the cold-war binary oscillation between east-west, global-local, and same-different which he argues continue to dominate the critical frames used by comparative and world literary studies today. Instead, he points toward what he defines as a "common strangeness."
Penguin China has just announced that they've bought world-wide rights, all languages excluding Chinese, for Wang Anyi's newest novel, Scent of Heaven, in conjunction with Penguin Australia.
Scent of Heaven won the 4th Dream of the Red Chamber Award, and will be a very welcome addition to the Chinese literary landscape in English!
By Eric Abrahamsen, April 15 '13, 4:04a.m.