Eric Abrahamsen

Freelance Translator

Beijing, China


Eric has lived in Beijing since late 2001, when he studied Chinese at the Central University for Nationalities. He began struggling through Wang Xiaobo at an early date, and kept at it through the intervening years while working as a teacher, editor, and freelance journalist. He would like nothing more than to spend his days with a dictionary and a laptop, and his nights out drinking with authors. He is the recipient of a PEN translation grant for Wang Xiaobo's My Spiritual Homeland and a NEA grant for Xu Zechen's Running Through Zhongguancun.

Eric's translation of Running Through Zhongguancun will come out with Two Lines Press, titled Running Through Beijing, in early 2014.

Works by Eric Abrahamsen
Running Through Zhongguancun, September, 2013
Translated from Paobu Chuanguo Zhongguancun, by Xu Zechen
The Civil Servant's Notebook, September, 2011
Translated from Gongwuyuan Biji, by Wang Xiaofang
China Story
The Deluge
Outdoor Film

Henry Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowships

The Vermont Studio Center invites applications for its Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowships Program supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. In 2014, VSC will award 12 outstanding Chinese poets and literary translators with 4-week joint residencies to create new work individually and in collaboration as part of VSC’s diverse creative community.

Applications for the next round of VSC/Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowships are available online or in printable form as part of VSC’s April 1, 2014 international fellowships deadline.

2014 VSC/Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowships:

  • Six awards for outstanding poets living anywhere in the world whose primary language is Chinese. These awards include roundtrip travel and a discretionary stipend.
  • Six awards for talented English-language translators working with Chinese poetry. These awards include a discretionary stipend.

These fellowships are available to individual poets and translators, as well as established working pairs, with fellowships awarded (and individuals ultimately paired) by a distinguished selection committee. If an established pair wishes to apply together, each person must submit an application and each must identify his/her preferred working partner. Applicants who wish to be considered as a pair should also select the same preferred residency dates. Due to the joint structure of these residencies, once an applicant (or pair) has been accepted, there may be little to no scheduling flexibility. For all VSC applicants, at least partial fluency of English is advised for participants to gain the greatest value from their residency experience. In addition to rendering exceptional translations on paper, translators should also be conversant enough in the writer’s primary language to help facilitate exchange with their working partner.

By Eric Abrahamsen, February 10 '14, 2:41a.m.

2 comments, viewed 53 times

Susan Sontag Prize for Translation

The deadline is May 26 for the Susan Sontag Prize for Translation, a 5,000 USD grant for a literary translation from Mandarin Chinese. Translators under 30 years of age can submit proposals for translations projects (fiction or letters) expected to be completed within a four-month period – July to November, 2014. See the link above for more details.

By Eric Abrahamsen, February 6 '14, 12:06a.m.

4 comments, viewed 100 times

Pathlight Spring 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 bookstore.

By Eric Abrahamsen, June 6 '13, 1:53a.m.

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Pathlight Digital Publication

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:

  1. On Amazon

  2. On the Apple iBookstore

  3. 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.

2 comments, viewed 259 times

Book Market Reports

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 that.

By Eric Abrahamsen, April 18 '13, 2:21a.m.

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Wang Anyi's Scent of Heaven to be publishing by Penguin

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.

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Karin Tidbeck on svårmod, and translating herself

I recently finished Jagannath, a collection of short stories from Swedish author Karin Tidbeck which, I only realized at the end of the book, belongs to the rare and strange category of books that have been translated by their own author.

"Damn this is a good translation," I thought more than once as I read the stories. There's no guarantee that an author will have the chops in a second language to do themselves justice, but Tidbeck does. From her afterword:


By Eric Abrahamsen, March 9 '13, 11:23a.m.

6 comments, viewed 190 times

Penguin China Titles Available as Ebooks

Many people have been asking where they can get hold of some of the novels published by Penguin China over the past year. Sheng Keyi's Northern Girls and Wang Xiaofang's The Civil Servant's Notebook in particular. These and other books are now available in e-book format on the US and UK Amazon sites, so go shopping!

By Eric Abrahamsen, January 8 '13, 12:41a.m.

2 comments, viewed 193 times

First We'll Take Manhattan...

Unless I'm very mistaken, which has been known to happen, the New Yorker's publication of "Bull", excerpted from Mo Yan's forthcoming novel POW! and translated by Howard Golblatt, marks their first foray into translated fiction from a mainland Chinese author. Publishing Mo Yan now may not quite be the bold move it would have been a few months ago, but still it's a landmark moment. Congratulations to Mo Yan, Howard Goldblatt, and the New Yorker!

Read a short interview with Howard on the NY-er blog.

By Eric Abrahamsen, November 20 '12, 7:48p.m.

3 comments, viewed 145 times

When a Body Meets a Body (and Another Body) get Liu Cixin's science fiction masterpiece, The Three Body Trilogy. This afternoon was the translators' signing ceremony/press conference for the trilogy, where Ken Liu (present in spirit only), Joel Martinsen and I signed up to translate volumes one, two and three, respectively. Expect volume one to be announced at next year's BEA.

So who's publishing it? That's complicated.


By Eric Abrahamsen, November 7 '12, 7:09a.m.

5 comments, viewed 353 times

Call for Flash Fiction Submissions

For anthology /Flash Fiction International/ forthcoming from distinguished publisher W.W. Norton, NY. The editors are looking for:

Recent very short stories from any country, in English translation, word limit 750 (1-3 pages). We usually reprint translations that have already been published (send us a copy) but will also consider original, unpublished manuscripts.

Deadline: March 15, 2013.

Contact: Robert Shapard, 3405 Mt. Bonnell Drive, Austin, TX, USA, 78731,

(The other co-editors for the anthology are Christopher Merrill, director of the Iowa International Writing Program, and James Thomas.)

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 25 '12, 12:24a.m.

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Calling all Potential Nobel Laureates…

So they say the next Nobel prize for literature will be announced this week (Thursday?), and you would not believe the number of people writing around for Mo Yan's contact information.

Dear Western media: leave the poor man alone! He's busy writing the next Great Chinese Novel.

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 8 '12, 12:27a.m.

2 comments, viewed 208 times

Indie vs Hip

A few weeks ago we had a lively argument/discussion on a mailing list about the proper translation of the term 文艺青年 (wényì qīngnián, literally "arts and culture youth", or "arts and letters youth") – a common term for a certain cohort of under-30 Chinese identifiable by their ability to recite Haizi poetry from memory, their starry-eyed idealism, and their ownership of a digital SLR. They've now sort of become the cultural and lexicological heirs of the "educated youth" (知情) of yore.

Li Cover


By Eric Abrahamsen, September 20 '12, 5:12a.m.

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Man Asian Literary Prize: Now Accepting Submissions

The Man Asian Literary Prize, is now accepting submissions for its 2012 prize round, deadline August 31, 2012. the MALP is awarded to a novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English, and already published: submission should be done by the publisher, up to three titles per imprint. The author of the winning novel receives a prize of 30,000 USD and the translator, if any, gets 5,000 USD.

The longlist will be announced December 4th, the shortlist January 9th, and the winner March 14th, 2013. See the MALP press release for more information.

By Eric Abrahamsen, August 13 '12, 2:57a.m.

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Submit to Litro!

Litro magazine, a UK-based monthly "pocket" literary magazine, is preparing a China-focussed issue, and wants your translated short stories! See their home page via the link above for submission guidelines.

Edit: The deadline, I'm told, has been extended somewhat, so be swift!

By Eric Abrahamsen, August 9 '12, 11:13p.m.

3 comments, viewed 128 times