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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...
Aug 2015 Update: Strategies for Exporting More of China’s Ethnic Fiction
I was invited to the “2015 Sino-foreign Literature Translation & Publishing Workshop” (2015 中外文学翻译研修班) that just ended in Beijing, but didn’t make it. It looks like it was a major happening with more than 50 translation and publishing professionals attending from 30+ countries.
I suggested beforehand to the organizers that they discuss how to increase the overseas profile of China’s non-Han authors, and apparently they did . . .
Interview - Liu Cixin on Fantastic Fiction
Liu offers a view into creating visions of the future and addresses how he feels about being a pioneer in the development of science fiction in China.
A translated excerpt of an interview he recently gave to Caixin follows.
Family Revolution: Marital Strife in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Visual Culture
Hui Faye Xiao' s Family Revolution: Marital Strife in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Visual Culture. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014. 224 pp. $75.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-295-99349-2; $30.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-295-99350-8.
Reviewed by Ping Zhu (University of Oklahoma)
Published on H-Asia (August, 2015)
Commissioned by Douglas Slaymaker
2015 China Bookworm Literary Award Winners Announced
The China Bookworm Literary Award was initiated in January 2015 to select a previously unpublished novel by a mainland Chinese writer. Entries for the award came from both published and unpublished writers across the country and covered a broad range of topics and styles. The judging panel for the award was made up of three distinguished literary figures – Guo Xiaolu (A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, I Am China), Karen Ma (Excess Baggage) and Eric Abrahamsen (Pathlight Magazine) – all of whom have worked with both Chinese- and English-language literature, as well as literary translations.
Author Wang Zhezhu Wins Inaugural China Bookworm Award
1st prize: Wang Zhezhu's The Train That Came to Its End
2nd prize: Li Ziyue’s I Am in the Red Chamber, You are on the Journey to the West
3rd prize: Lin Weipan’s When A Cloud Meets A Sheet of Paper
The success of Shen Wei's "A Dictionary of Xinjiang"
The 50-year-old was surprised to find the expanded edition of his collection of essays－A Dictionary of Xinjiang－sold out in months after it was published in October 2014, and that Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House had to reprint more copies for this year's book fair in the city.
In A Dictionary, Shen uses 111 entries to represent his experience and understanding of the region's history, geography, plants, animals, landscapes, products, arts and literature.
Eleanor Goodman, an American poet and Sinologist, says Shen has genuinely represented the "spiritual geography" of innermost Asia. Her selected translation of the book also won her a literary award in 2013 by the US magazine Ninth Letter.
Congrats to Liu Cixin and Ken Liu, whose joint product volume one of The Three Body Problem just won the 2015 Hugo Award in the novel category. This book just won't stop!
By Eric Abrahamsen, August 24 '15, 4:43a.m.
Links to China's Ethnic-themed Literature in Translation
Includes links to excerpts and/or introductions to short stories and novels whose themes touch on cultures of the Evenki, Hui, Manchu, Mongolian, native Taiwanese, Tibetan, Xiongnu and Yi peoples.
On Political Dissent and the Remarkable Similarities Between Mark Twain and Yu Hua
By Jeffrey Wasserstrom.
"What if Yu Hua had become the first Chinese author, still based in China, to win a Nobel Prize for Literature?
And, secondly, was Mark Twain a dissident?
I’ve been pondering this pair of questions about two of my favorite authors since November 2012..."
Ha Jin and the double life of a Chinese spy in the United States
Ha Jin is much more an immigrant who has found his place in the United States than an exile or a dissident. He has written a novel of very high standard but he warns us for the future: "To be a professional writer, it’s like becoming an athlete. You have to perform constantly, you have to jump higher and higher although you know that’s impossible."
5 Reasons Indian Publishers Should Not Ignore China
Three state-level visits in last twelve months have created an atmosphere of positive enterprise. ... But is the Indian publishing industry paying heed? If the participation in national book fairs an indication, no: the sole Chinese presence at the 2015 New Delhi book fair was one Bob Song, president of Royal Collins, China. Meanwhile, the Beijing International Book Fair saw an average of only 3-5 Indian publishers in each of the last five years. Where is the trade happening, if at all?
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.
Inspired at the Asian Festival of Children's Content, Singapore, 2015
By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok
Last month I attended Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) 2015 as a delegate. I enjoyed exploring Chinese literature for children, as China was the country of focus.
Translators Lab at Norwich
Organised by The Select Centre in partnership with Writers' Centre Norwich, the Translators Lab provides excellent tutelage in a supportive environment. Whether you are tackling literary translation for the first time, or you have already started but want extra guidance, this 8-week course is for you. It will run from 12 Sep – 2 Nov, 2015.
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!”
By Bruce Humes, August 18 '15, 9:12p.m.
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:
By Bruce Humes, August 13 '15, 10:27p.m.
Diao Dou and Adam Marek, at Manchester Literature Festival, 17 Oct
Two modern masters of the surreal discuss the power of literary absurdism in this one-off event. Diao Dou is arguably China’s most daring contemporary satirist, writing poetry, short stories and novels. His first collection in English, Point of Origin, is a stunning display of high wire literary acrobatics.
Mongolian Shaman Songs of Praise Rendered in Chinese
Entitled 萨满神歌 (lit., sacred songs of the shaman), they offer praise mainly to mothers, and the spirits of mountains and rivers. Such songs are passed on orally and rarely written down.
Shaman and their lyrics do occasionally appear in 21st-century Chinese fiction, however. For example, here are three novels . . .
Isaacson reviews Kinkley's "Visions of Dystopia in China's New Historical Novels"
Author: Jeffrey C. Kinkley
Reviewer: Nathaniel Isaacson
Jeffrey C. Kinkley, Visions of Dystopia in China's New Historical Novels, New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-231-16768-0.
Issue 28 of Asia Literary Review Released
We are thrilled to announce that our Summer 2015 issue (Asia and Australia, a Shared Hemisphere) has been released! Free preview articles (including a peek inside the hearts and minds of agents at a Philippine call center, and an essay that struggles with Indonesia's tumultuous political history) and our editorial are here.
Quintessential Beijing Books
List of 21 titles from 2012. Time for an update?
Interview with translator Annelous Stiggelbout
In this ongoing series about the translation of Chinese literature, we invited some Sinologists to share with us their observations about how Chinese literature is received in their countries, their opinions on the promotion of Chinese literature and their stories during their translation. In this article, we invited Annelous Stiggelbout to talk over these issues.
JOB: Teacher of Chinese Literature - Independent Girls' School, London
Reeson Education is looking for a Chinese Teacher for one of our client schools in South-West London. This is a part-time, permanent position of Chinese A (Literature) to teach in the IB Diploma and IB MYP programmes. As an international school, there are a number of native Mandarin speakers who wish to study Chinese literature as part of their IB Diploma.
Jeremy Tiang awarded NEA Literary Translation Fellowship
Jeremy Tiang awarded NEA Literary Translation Fellowship to translate Taiwanese writer Lo Yi-Chin's novel Far Away.
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.
Xi Dada’s Anti-corruption Campaign Targets the Mao Dun Literature Prize
Xinhua: The organizers of one of China's top literary awards have set up a team to supervise the judging process and make sure it is fair and free of corruption . . .
Chinese farmer writes Unit 731 novel
A farmer in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has written a novel based on oral accounts by forced laborers in the notorious Japanese army Unit 731 in Harbin, the provincial capital. Ju Bingnan, 64, spent six years writing the 800,000-word work named "Heibao," the name of Unit 731 before 1942. It was a top-secret biological and chemical warfare research base at the center of Japan's biological warfare in China and Southeast Asia during WWII. Ju donated his books to the district government of Pingfang, where the remains of Unit 731 are located, last week, as a gift ahead of the upcoming anniversary of the end of WWII.
Hong Kong literature inside and outside of the Umbrella Movement
New essay by Dorothy Tse, translated by Michael Day
"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
By Helen Wang, July 31 '15, 4:07a.m.
Should Ethnicity Limit What a Fiction Writer Can Write?
Novelist Susan Barker ("British, mixed-race English and Chinese, but linguistically and culturally British") responds to Chinese man in audience who comments that her book (which he hasn't read) "is an interesting perspective on China […] but just a Western perspective. You can never understand the Chinese.”
Found: Lin Yutang's translation of Dream of the Red Chamber
An unpublished English translation of the Chinese classic novel Dream of the Red Chamber by the writer and translator Lin Yutang (1895-1976) has been uncovered in Japan, Nankai University in Tianjin recently announced.
New Journal : Chinese Literature and Culture
Chu Dongwei, founder and editor-in-chief of the print and online journal, is an associate professor at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.
Chinese Literature and Culture, published three times a year, is devoted to translations of Chinese texts (works from the past or by contemporary authors), essays of cultural criticism and original writings－fiction or nonfiction－dealing with the China experience or life in Chinese communities around the world.
Report on the New Writing from East Asia event in Leeds
By Stefan Kielbasiewicz of York PEN.
The last part of the event "The Story of a Story" was recorded, and can be viewed on the Free Word Centre website
Chinese fiction - what to read next
From the Writing Chinese project at Leeds University: "We asked our symposium speakers for their recommendations on Chinese fiction; here's what they came up with!"
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.
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.
By Nicky Harman, July 16 '15, 7:48a.m.
Mainland Authors at the HK Book Fair (Jul 17)
Events to be held in Mandarin/Cantonese:
日期: 7 月 17 日 (星期五)
时间: 上午 11:30 至下午13:00
地点: 香港书展 香港会议展览中心 会议室 S226-227
日期: 7 月 17 日 (星期五)
时间: 下午 4 时至下午 5 时 30 分
地点: 香港书展 香港会议展览中心 会议室 S221
Annelise F. Wasmoen and Eric Abrahamsen make the 2015 National Translation Award Longlist
Congratulations to Annelise and Eric for their translations of Can Xue's The Last Lover and Xu Zechen's "Running Through Beijing*, respectively.
INTERNATIONAL TRANSLATION DAY, jointly organized by Free Word, English PEN, the British Library, takes place 2nd October 2015. For anyone within reach of London, there's a fine selection of talks and workshops.
By Nicky Harman, July 15 '15, 8:06a.m.
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:
- 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.
- Within three years of the signing, you translate and publish either one novel-length work, or two shorter works, by a Nanjing writer.
- 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.
- 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.
Leo Ou-fan Lee, author of the year for the Hong book fair 2015
10 books by Chinese writers on early Singapore
Writer Yap Koon Chan publishes 10 out-of-print books by Chinese writers who had some connection to early Singapore.
The 10 volumes comprise short stories, poems, plays, essays and a collection of newspaper columns published between 1930 and 1948. All contain references to Singapore as most were written here.
Literary Saloon reviews A Yi's "A Perfect Crime"
A Perfect Crime is one in a long line of novels of modern anomie, with a protagonist who decides on senseless murder as the only appropriate course of action that could possibly define him or give him some sort of purpose, but A Yi's contemporary Chinese spin on that familiar story is a solid variation on it -- and disturbingly convincing.
Representing China on the Historical London Stage: From Orientalism to Intercultural Performance
By Dongshin Chang (Routledge 2015)
Modernist Literary Production in East Asia - by Karen Thornber
Chapter 5 in The Modernist World ed by Allana Lindgren, Stephen Ross (Routledge, June 2015)
"The Modernist World is an accessible yet cutting edge volume which redraws the boundaries and connections among interdisciplinary and transnational modernisms. The 61 new essays address literature, visual arts, theatre, dance, architecture, music, film, and intellectual currents. The book also examines modernist histories and practices around the globe, including East and Southeast Asia, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and Oceania, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the Arab World, as well as the United States and Canada. A detailed introduction provides an overview of the scholarly terrain, and highlights different themes and concerns that emerge in the volume."
Documenting Folk Songs of Yunnan’s Bai People in Multilingual Format
On Yan Lianke's fiction: Q&A with translator and literary scholar Carlos Rojas
Jeffrey Wasserstrom interviews Carlos Rojas
More than Recognition: One-half the $ for Man Booker Int'l Prize Destined for Translator
Translators of foreign fiction often go unsung and unnoticed. A new incarnation of the Man Booker International Prize is to give . . .
New anti-corruption novels
Two new anti-corruption novels have reignited people's passion for the genre. A Camp by Tao Chun and The Song is Over, but Audiences Are Still There by Zhou Daxin both target corruptions within the military, a topic that few works have approached before.
Tripping the Light Fantastic: An Interview with Pan Haitian
What do you think it really means to be “Chinese?” How is it different from being, say, “American?”
Obviously, it’s more than just cheongsam dresses, the limestone karst scenery of Guilin, the canal cities of the Yangtze delta like Wuzhen, conical hats, Lao-tzu and the Tao Te Ching, kung fu and all these symbols. Because Americans use the same symbols when they film movies like Transformers or Mission Impossible in Shanghai.
As I understand it, to be Chinese you have to include the contemporary ideology of China today—Chinese people’s way of thinking, their philosophical outlook on life, their way of looking at the world. More specifically, it appears in the choices that characters make in a work, in their attitude towards new things. It can affect the entire thrust of a story.
Unconventional Love - Taiwan writer sparks discussion on same-sex relationships
...the recent popular seminars held for Taiwan writer Chen Xue's two books [Lovers in the Maze and Lessons in Love] just published in the Chinese mainland that delve into her experiences in same-sex relationships. Each seminar has been so packed that many people have been forced to crowd outside the entrances to try and listen in on these talks that start off discussing her books and love in general, but eventually turn to the topic of same-sex relationships.
Ken Liu on "The Grace of Kings" and Silk Punk
“I wanted to create a new world that draws inspiration clearly from East Asia, but isn’t China. That’s the only way I can let people see the story anew. I’m very interested in foundational narratives. Foundational narratives in the West are things like the Iliad and the Odyssey, Beowulf, Paradise Lost. These are very important epic stories which become the foundation on which new works comment and elaborate and are in conversation with. In the Chinese literary tradition, the same role is played by stories like Romance of the Three Kingdoms or the Chu-Han Contention, which is a source for The Grace of Kings. But I didn’t want to retell a story, rather I wanted to reimagine this very old important foundation narrative of the Chinese literary tradition in a brand new literary framework that I constructed myself out of my status as inheritor of both Western and Chinese literary traditions.”
Create ‘Chinese Culture’ Ebooks
From the early 1960,s until he passed away in 2015, William Dolby beaverishly translated and researched Classical Chinese drama, poetry and literature, and above and beyond his world reneowned work of A History of Chinese Drama he silently produced an unknown mountain of superb works titled the "Chinese Culture Series".
On Translations - by Nick Admussen
Guest editing the poetry in this issue, and selecting a lot of translation for it, hasn't really given me any insight into which of those theories are right and which are wrong — each seems like it has its own appropriate place and time, with none deserving endless primacy. What I realized instead was about the feeling, the sensation of translating contemporary literature — something that’s related to the sensation of conversation.
Profile of Octogenarian Orochen: Folk Song Singer, Folk Tale and Dictionary Compiler
Among one of the first batches of young Orochen (鄂伦春, aka Oroqen) chosen to receive a formal Chinese-language education in Zhalantun in 1948, E’erdenggua (额尔登挂) was just 17 at the time. She had never been outside her village on the banks of Chuo’er River (绰尔河畔) in Inner Mongolia, and didn’t speak a word of Chinese. Now 84, she was profiled recently in Zhongguo Minzu Bao (老人的鄂伦春文化情缘) . . .
Qian Zhongshu - an antidote to the idea of absolute "difference" between cultural worlds
By Kerry Brown. "This exceptionalism clearly carries dangers of its own. And a stupendous antidote to it can be found by paying attention to the figure who, of all those in the 20th century with a claim to being deeply versed in both "traditionally European" and "traditionally Chinese" cultures, surely has the best claim of all: Qian Zhongshu."
Eric Abrahamsen on "The Real Censors of China"
For years Chinese authors in China have been writing books that get banned, with no dramatic repercussions. Yan Lianke’s examinations of the cult of Mao and tragic episodes from China’s Communist history are given a wide berth by publishers on the mainland, appearing in Taiwan and Hong Kong instead. But his novels do get published here, he goes about unmolested, and he has a prestigious position at one of China’s best universities. Sheng Keyi and Chan Koonchung have both written fiction touching on the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown without, by their own accounts, so much as a slap on the wrist.
China Launches Intangible Cultural Heritage Encyclopedia
China unveiled its premier Encyclopedia of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage (中国非物质文化遗产, 史诗卷) on June 12, reports China Daily. This is the first of three volumes, and is dedicated to three great oral epics of the Tibetans, Mongols and Kyrgyz, respectively: King Gesar, Jangar and Manas . . .
Silk Road Economic Belt: Translators to Get their Slice of the Pie
Representatives of five of China’s northwestern provinces met June 15 in Xining to discuss how to benefit from the “Silk Road Fragrant Book Project” (丝路书香工程). This is a global publishing initiative, given the stamp of approval by China’s Ministry of Propaganda, which is designed to stimulate the mutual translation and publication of great literary, historical and cultural works that are grounded in the cultures of countries along the ancient Silk Road . . .
*The Chinese Political Novel* by Catherine Vance Yeh - review
Winners of the 2014 CALA (Chinese American Librarians Association) Best Books Awards
Winners include Decoded by Mai Jia (tr Olivia Milburn and Christopher Payne) and The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin (tr Ken Liu)
Inner Mongolian Artists Speak Up as Mining and Logging Encroach on Traditional Grazing Lands
I suspect that some of you out there have, from time to time,
wondered: “but what do you people at Paper Republic actually do all
day long? Surely you can’t survive by snarky literary judgments alone?
Also, can’t you make your website look a little less ’My First HTML’?”
I am here with a resolution to one of your questions, at least: what
we do all day is to get Chinese literature into English, and though
actual readable texts have been in scant supply on the site, that will
change starting a week from today. June 18th we’ll be launching
something called “Read Paper Republic”, where we’ll present one
complete free-to-view short story, essay, or poem on the site itself,
both as a webpage and a download, once a week.
We’ll be kicking off with an original translation of a story by A Yi,
translated by Michelle Deeter. Our editorial team consists of Dave
Haysom here in Beijing and Nicky Harman and Helen Wang in the UK.
By Eric Abrahamsen, June 12 '15, 1:32a.m.
Intellectual intervention and English anthologies of Chinese literature of the 1980s
By Red Chan.
Abstract: This article portrays contemporary Chinese literature in English through the lens of literary anthologies. It outlines how the corpus of about 60 English anthologies of contemporary Chinese literary works can be understood collectively in a context of social change, whereas the yardstick of literary assessment follows very much a traditionalist approach that literature should reflect social truths. By addressing particular anthologists’ discourse of their compilation, this paper argues that the first badge of Chinese–English translation was produced more for ideological ends than aesthetic purposes. Translation was used more as a functional tool that propagates the anthologist’s or the publisher’s ideological agenda. It was rather unusual to see that non-literary experts were actively producing literary translations as a gateway to understand China. Whilst the wholesale presentation of Chinese authors in the post-Mao era through anthologies does create a quantitative presence in English, it is unclear whether such anthologies have made a significant impact on extending the Anglophone readers’ interest in (contemporary) Chinese literature.
Dreamers and Nightmares: Political novels by Wang Lixiong and Chan Koonchung
By Chaohua Wang
Abstract: Wang Lixiong’s Yellow Peril(1991) represents the return of political fiction of the future not seen in China for decades. Chan Koonchung’s The Fat Years (2009) brings the imagination to a full dystopian vision. Reading the two novels side by side, this paper argues that Chinese fiction of the future in the early 1990s responded to the country’s struggle for direction when the bloody crackdown of the Tiananmen protest wiped out collective idealism in society. In the twenty-first century, such fiction is written in response to China’s rapid rise as one of the world’s superpowers, bringing to domestic society a seemingly stabilised order that has deprived it of intellectual vision.
Chinese Literature and the Child: Children and Childhood in Late-Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction
This book is an ambitious study of images of children in Chinese literature from the 1980s and 1990s. Analyzing miscellaneous literary works, Kate Foster argues cogently that the image of the child plays a very important role in (transformations of adult identity in the late 20th century. It should be noted that the texts studied were written mainly for adults, not for children; this book is not about childrens literature, but rather about the child image in adult literature...
On Chinese Science Fiction and Reading Internationally
Last year I found myself at an International Publishing Conference in Central, Hong Kong. I used my limited Chinese to talk to a woman who used her limited English about book recommendations. We knocked each other out with one question: What should I read that was written in your country?
Role of the "Culture Worker" in Today's China?
After noting that “People use the term ‘dissident writer’ in a very confused way,” Eric Abrahamsen goes on to say (as paraphrased in Christopher Beam’s New Yorker article) that “Dissidents like Woeser, Tohti, and Liu Xiaobo, he added, are jailed for their political activities, not their creative writing.”
A license to thrill? Spy novelists hit pay dirt in China
(by Jemimah Steinfeld, for CNN, June 10, 2015)
Let's Have a Talk - SF story by Xia Jia in *Nature*
"Let's have a talk" by Xia Jia in Nature 522, 122 (04 June 2015)
Xia Jia is a sci-fi writer in China. Her fiction has appeared in English translation in venues such as Clarkesworld and The Year's Best SF. This is her first story written in English and was edited by Ken Liu, a translator and speculative-fiction author whose works have appeared in F&SF, Asimov's, Tor.com and other venues.
Shelly Bryant talks about Actors and Literary Translators, the Great Imitators
Shelly Bryant argues that literary translators need the same skills as actors who imitate the voices and mannerisms of others.
China at the BEA: from The New Yorker
The problem, from what I could tell, was that publishers didn’t seem to know what American readers wanted. After the opening ceremony, the two Chinese officials, Wu and Cui, gave deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman a tour of the pavilion, showing him around the display shelves while a gaggle of Chinese media trailed behind. They paused to point out such books as Xi’s autobiography (largely a collection of speeches), an academic work called “Why and How the CPC Works in China,” and another book, titled “Confessions of Japanese War Criminals for Carrying Out Aggressions Against China.” The American nodded politely. If anyone present saw a connection between the overtly propagandistic nature of the books being promoted and disappointing sales outside the mainland, they didn’t let on, but the tour did seem to suggest that suppressing independent voices wasn’t just bad for writers, but bad for business.
Writing Chinese Symposium, Leeds, UK, 2-4 July
With guest authors Dorothy Tse and Murong Xuecun. See website for details.
"Ten-Mile Peach Blossom of Three Lifetimes" meets Spiderman 2
Roughly translated as "Ten-Mile Peach Blossom of Three Lifetimes," the film is an adaptation of an online fantasy novel that revolves around the complicated world and romance of a female fox spirit who is 140,000 years old and a male black dragon spirit who is 50,000 years old. Since its release on one of China's biggest literature websites in 2008, the novel has reached an overwhelming popularity among young girls.
[Sansheng Sanshi Shili Taohua - by Tangqi Gongzi]
Chinese literature goes global (it's a small world)
China will have to get used to that small scale abroad; back home their numbers are enviable. Commercial Press’s literature subsidiary had 400 new titles last year alone. Every book by their No. 1 author, Jia Pingwa, garners sales in excess of 400,000 copies, while Cao Wenxuan’s series of kids’ books have sold eight million copies. Cao’s Bronze and Sunflower, published this year will be his first in English. (A bestseller in Canada can be somewhere north of 5,000 copies.)
Featuring authors Ye Zhaoyan, Qian Zhongshu, Ding Jie, Xu Zechen, Pang Yuliang, Tao Wenyu and Han Dong.
By Helen Wang, June 5 '15, 10:18a.m.
BEA 2015: Children's and YA Publishing in China
In brief opening remarks, Li Yan explained his interest in promoting Chinese culture abroad, asserted how big and successful Chinese publishing houses are, and that children’s publishing is a priority. The majority of the time went to Patricia Giff and Cao Wenxuan.
‘Censorship Breeds Prejudice in the Long Run’
What is it like to grapple with Chinese state censorship? On May 29, Foreign Policy sat down with Bao Pu, Guo Xiaolu, and Hao Qun, better known by his pen name Murong Xuecun, in FP‘s Washington, D.C. office. Bao Pu is the founder of New Century Press, a Hong Kong publisher, and a political commentator and activist. Guo Xiaolu is a novelist and filmmaker in the U.K. Murong Xuecun is a Beijing-based author who has spoken and written about the Chinese censorship regime. (The three were in town as part of a trip organized by the New York-based PEN American Center focused on freedom of speech in China.)
Creative Asia: 6 authors writing in Chinese who you might want to pay attention to
Who will be the influential voices of the Chinese literary world this year? CREATIVE ASIA asks Dave Haysom, joint managing editor of Beijing-based literary magazine Pathlight, which authors he thinks we should be reading.
A Yi, Cao Wenxuan, Ge Fei, Sun Yisheng, Wu Ming-yi and Yan Ge
Chinese Writers and Chinese Reality: An Inteview with Liu Zhenyun
Agenting In China: An agent explores the changing Chinese book market
(By Marysia Juszczakiewicz, of Peony):
The goal when looking for material in China is the same as in the West: to find stories of universal appeal. But there are issues of translation to contend with as well. Chinese is a powerfully visual written language, and the conventions of narrative structure and characterisation differ greatly from the West, so finding stories that bridge that cultural gap take a little more digging. ... Currently, the success of a Chinese novel is determined by the number of translation rights sold, rather than the number of copies sold in English.
One-Size-Fits-All Qualification Exam for China Publishing Professionals Militates Against Minorities
Guardian's Beijing Correspondent "Zaijian, China" Letter
I don’t miss China’s smog and dust; still less the injustices that I witnessed. But I loved the energy, the curiosity and friendliness of strangers, and the knowledge I lapped up on everything from Maoist model operas to dinosaurs. I miss cold noodles, scalding xiao long bao soup dumplings and fresh tanghulu (a superior take on toffee apples). At least Laoganma’s addictive chilli black bean sauce is available in the UK. I’ll miss strolling down the hutongs on summer days, skating on frozen lakes in winter, and watching the sun rise over a snow-dusted, crumbling stretch of the Great Wall after a long scrabble uphill through the darkness. China’s rich literary history remains easily accessible, as does the endless linguistic inventiveness and subversive wit of internet users, but its other cultural treasures are now a long-haul flight away: Sichuan’s lush valleys, Gansu’s desert, and Beijing’s ginkgo trees and beautiful azure-winged magpies. And no, new year will not be the same without those free firework displays.
Booksigning at BookExpo America: Chinese Authors Get the Cold Shoulder Treatment
Chinese Authors and Literature Spotlighted in Week of Events During BookExpo America
As part of the 2015 BookExpo America's Global Market Forum initiative, China's Guest of Honor program, will showcase more than 20 of China's best-known poets and authors in more than a dozen events, co-organized by Paper Republic, at the BEA and around New York City. From poetry readings, to literary exchanges with New York writers, to screenings of films adapted from Chinese fiction, the event lineup promises front-row exposure to the best of China's literary culture. During BEA, from May 27 to 30, visitors will be able to see established names such as Su Tong (Raise the Red Lantern) and Mai Jia (Decoded), alongside up-and-coming writers like writers like A Yi (A Perfect Crime).
China Refutes Designation as Sole Supplier of Vietnam’s “Obscene” Romantic Novels in Translation
. . . post-1949 China has a long history of rooting out “spiritual pollution” in the arts. Could it be guilty of recycling its toxic products south of the border?
Leading Chinese eBook Publishers to Receive Achievement Awards at BookExpo America
NEW YORK, NY, May 27, 2015 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- BookExpo America (Jacob Javits Center) - At the largest publishing event in North America, BookExpo America (BEA), OverDrive will host a reception and present the Blue Sky Awards to publishers with top selling Chinese language adult and children's eBooks. Hundreds of US, Canadian and international public libraries and schools now offer their Chinese readers instant access to thousands of new Chinese language eBook titles in every category (for example, see San Francisco Public Library eBook collection at http://sfpl.lib.overdrive.com/Chinese.htm).
Can Xue and Annelise Finegan Wasmoen win BTBA 2015!
According to the jury, Can Xue’s (“tsan shway”) The Last Lover (published by Yale University Press) was the most radical and uncompromising of this year’s finalists, pushing the novel form into bold new territory. Journeying through a dreamworld as strange yet disquietingly familiar as Kafka’s Amerika, The Last Lover proves radiantly original. If Orientalists describe an East that exists only in the Western imagination, Can Xue describes its shadow, offering a beguiling dream of a Chinese West. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen’s translation succeeds in crafting a powerful English voice for a writer of singular imagination and insight.
Lao Ma, the literary mosquito
Individuals, Flash Fiction by Lao Ma, review by Michael Rank:
"If brevity is the soul of wit, Chinese short story writer Lao Ma 劳马 is a modern-day Voltaire or Oscar Wilde. The book packs 55 wry and satirical stories into 178 pages, each one of them reflecting the ambitions and venalities of Chinese academics and bureaucrats caustically but not viciously, and all too recognisably."
Pen is mightier than the sword: Novelists help China’s soft power push in Latin America
Three writers - Mo Yan, Mai Jia and Tie Ning - are in South America with Li Keqiang.
Michel Hockx, director of the University of London's SOAS China Institute, said the writers had more of a role to play in cultural exchanges than boosting China's soft power. "These three writers are involved not so much because of what they write, but because of their positions in the official Chinese Writers Association," Hockx said. "Tie Ning is chairwoman, Mo Yan is one of the vice-chairs, and Mai Jia is chair of the Zhejiang provincial branch of the association."
Pro-active Guide for Foreign Scribes: How to Deal with Censorship of Your Writing in Xi Dada’s China
Anthony C. Yu, translator and scholar of religion and literature, 1938-2015
Anthony C. Yu, a scholar of religion and literature best known for his landmark translation of the Chinese epic The Journey to the West, died May 12 after a brief illness. He was 76.
Good Mandarin literature for beginner/intermediate speakers
Good advice from Charles Laughlin
2015 Mao Dun Prize: Who Will Snare the Award for Unofficial “Ethnic-themed” Category?
Perry Link’s introduction to Eileen Chang’s *Naked Earth*
Adapted from Perry Link’s introduction to Eileen Chang’s Naked Earth, to be published on June 16 by New York Review Books.
The dead body: A "legal tool of empowerment.”
In the opening of the Song dynasty classic The Washing Away of Wrongs, published in 1247 and considered the world’s earliest documentation of forensic science, author and coroner Song Ci explains that the whole point of an accurate autopsy of an unnatural death is to “xiyuan zewu,” or “wash away wrongs and oblige others.”
A marvelous look at how here in the 21st century, China's aggrieved are “carrying the corpse to protest” (抬尸抗议), and why the police are in turn employing “qiangshi” (抢尸) or “snatching the corpse。“
Review: Li Er’s "The Magician of 1919"
Translated by Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz.
Liu Cixin's "Three-Body Problem" shortlisted for the Locus Award 2015
The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the top five finalists in each category of the 2015 Locus Awards.
Winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, June 26-28, 2015.
Wang Guozhen (1956-2015)
Chinese poet Wang Guozhen, who was quoted by President Xi Jinping in his public speech, passed away in Beijing on Sunday...
“There’s no mountain higher than a man, and no road longer than his feet,” Xi had quoted from one of Wang’s poems during a speech at the 2013 APEC CEOs’ summit in Indonesia, to emphasize China’s determination on economic reform.
As part of the Best Translated Book Award project, recently announced on the Three Percent site, they're publishing short essays on the various books and the reasons for their nomination. There are four Chinese-language books on the longlist, and I'll update this post with links to the essays as they're posted. As of April 11, we've got:
- Nomination essay by judge Monica Carter on why Qiu Miaojin's Last Words from Montmartre, translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich, should win.
- Nomination essay by ??? on why Hsia Yü's poetry collection Salsa, translated by Steve Bradbury should win.
- Nomination essay by guest critic Christine Palauon why Dorothy Tse's Snow and Shadow, translated by Nicky Harman, should win.
- Nomination essay by ??? on why Can Xue's The Last Lover, translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen should win.
By Eric Abrahamsen, May 4 '15, 10:57a.m.
Burton Watson wins 2015 PEN/Ralph Manheim lifetime achievement Medal for Translation
The winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal is chosen by the members of the PEN America Translation Committee, who are dedicated to highlighting the art of literary translation and advocating on behalf of translators. As the committee's citation states, “Burton Watson is the inventor of classical East Asian poetry for our time.” Among other writers, Watson has translated the works of Chuang Tzu, Han-shan, Su Tung-P'o, and Po Chü-i.
Credited with making many classical Chinese and Japanese works accessible to the English-reading public for the first time, Watson’s translations also span a wide array of genres, from poetry and prose to histories and sacred texts. The committee's citation continues, “For decades his anthologies and his scholarly introductions have defined classical East Asian literature for students and readers in North America, and we have reason to expect more: even at his advanced age, he still translates nearly daily.”
Book of the Month: Bronze and Sunflower
The story is engrossing too. With Bronze and Sunflower battling to survive and thrive, the stakes could not be higher. As a result, Cao is able to weave in some sophisticated observations about the realities of poverty. He also powerfully portrays the experience of living in a place where services like health care and education are seen as privileges and not rights – thought-provoking stuff for children in many parts of the English-speaking world, who may be more used to grumbling about than begging to go to school.
Here's the My BEA Show Planner of events listed under the heading "Global Market Forum: China".
New York, 27-29 May 2015:
By Helen Wang, April 27 '15, 10:55a.m.