Interviews with Chinese Women Writers, 2019

Most readers nowadays, asked to name a contemporary Chinese writer, could manage at least one. But the odds are that it will be a man. In these interviews, we explore how Chinese women authors from mainland China see themselves and their status.

In recent decades in mainland China, there have been vast improvements in standards of living and personal freedoms (to choose one's higher education and career, and to travel, for instance) and a small number of women writers have flourished. For instance, the current head of the China Writers Association, Tie Ning, is a woman. However, women writers still appear to lag far behind their male counterparts in other respects. Only nine of forty-three winners of the Mao Dun Literary Prize were women between 1982 and 2015; as were only twenty-seven of 228 Lu Xun Prize awards (various categories) between 1995 and 2017. And far fewer women are translated into English: of 117 novels translated from Chinese between 2012 and 2018, only thirty-five were by women. Our aim in translating and publishing these interviews is to bring the opinions of Chinese women writers on this topic, in all their variety and complexity, to English-language readers.

Notes: With the exception of Wang Bang, all writers answered in Chinese. The initials of the translator can be found at the end of each interview. Some writers chose to remain anonymous. We have published the response of another writer, Tang Fei, separately. It can be read in Words Without Borders.

Nicky Harman and Natascha Bruce

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一周一句 Sunday Sentence #7

By Jack Hargreaves, July 12, '20

This week's Sunday Sentence is something entirely different: Yeng Pway Ngon 英培安 inserts himself into the narrative on page 25 of 《骚动》(2002), translated by Jeremy Tiang as Unrest. Thank you to Jeremy for setting this week's challenge.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentence to translate is:
我启动电脑的时候,小说的女主人翁和男主人翁正在床上。我的手指在键盘上犹疑了好一阵子,不能决定应该由我还是由他们其中一人来叙述这场性爱。无论如何,窥视小说主人翁的私生活是读者的权利,所以作为读者的你是可以看到的,床上的性活动正在进行中,男主人翁的状态似乎并不理想。

Remember, you can post your translation anytime between now and next Sunday, so you have plenty of time to ponder and refine it.

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Moment of Epiphany: What if Harold Bloom had been born in Shandong?

By Dylan Levi King, July 11, '20

The number of university creative writing programs in the United States has skyrocketed over the past four decades.

The MFA program and its influence irrevocably changed American literature.

The MFA program graduate came to dominate American (and to a lesser extent Canadian and UK literature), while most writers in China learned their trade the honest way, by reading theory and literature, then by turning out copy, and editing at whatever post they were assigned.

That might be about to change.

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一周一句 Sunday Sentence #6

By Jack Hargreaves, July 4, '20

This week's Sunday Sentence can be found on the first page of 《北妹》 by Sheng Keyi 盛可以 (2004), translated by Shelly Bryant as Northern Girls (2012).

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentence to translate is:
一米五五的样子,短发、带卷、蛋脸偏圆,基本上是良家民女的模样,嫁个男人安分守己生儿育女的胚子。遗憾的是,钱小红的胸部太大,即便不是钱小红的本意,也被毫无余地地划出良民圈子,与寡妇的门前一样多了事。

Remember, you can post your translation anytime between now and next Sunday, so you have plenty of time to ponder and refine it.

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Our Very First Paper Republic / Librairie Avant-Garde Chenjiapu Translator Residency is here!

By Chen Dongmei, July 3, '20

We’re very happy to announce that David Perry is our first resident translator for the Paper Republic / Librairie Avant-Garde Chenjiapu Translator Residency (陈家铺平民书局汉学家驻留计划) !

The residency, organized in collaboration by Librairie Avant-Garde (先锋书店) and Paper Republic, offers translators a chance to join the Paper Republic & Librairie Avant-Garde literary family, and work on literary projects in the midst of a traditional Chinese rural environment.

In 2018, Librairie Avant-Garde launched the Chenjiapu Populace Bookstore, the third of LAG’s village bookstores. Along with the bookstore, LAG remodeled a house into a residency venue for authors, poets and other literary creatives. The residency has hosted A Yi, Li Juan, Yu Xiuhua, and Ou Ning, among others. The bookstore also holds an annual poetry festival called “Third Day of Third Month” (三月三).

David Perry is a poet and translator. He holds a MFA in Literary Translation from University of Iowa and currently teaches core curriculum writing and creative writing at NYU Shanghai as a senior lecturer. He’s staying at Chenjiapu for two weeks in July, and working on the translation of the Nanjing-based poet Sun Dong’s work.

This project came together thanks to Qian Xiaohua, Li Xinxin and Li Xia from Librairie Avant-Garde, as well as author A Yi.

Cover photo by David Perry


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一周一句 Sunday Sentence #5

By Jack Hargreaves, June 26, '20

Sunday Sentence #5 comes from an unreleased book, 《鹰头猫与音乐箱女孩》 by Dorothy Tse 謝曉虹, due out with Aquarius in July 2020 (next month!) and currently being translated by Natascha Bruce with the working title, Owlish & the Music-Box Ballerina.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentence to translate is:
因此,在那空气黏稠、沉甸甸令人脑袋发胀的冬日下午,当教授Q习惯性地从家里那扇狭小的镶了不锈钢窗花的窗口看出去时,竟然没有看到海,没有看到从天而降,锋利如刀片的阳光把它任意割切成许多玻璃似的碎片,没有看到一直停泊在海湾里几条颜色明艳,充满了战意的船,以及它们那些不断深入海床里的机械吊臂。

And for anyone who fancies it, here is the sentence that finishes the paragraph:
教授Q看到的是一个居住了多年的城市,从内部渐渐膨胀起来,形成一个饱满的头颅,并慢慢回转过来,向他展示了另一张脸。

Remember, you can post your translation anytime between now and next Sunday, so you have plenty of time to ponder and refine it.

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一周一句 Sunday Sentence #4

By Jack Hargreaves, June 20, '20

Week 4 of Sunday Sentence! Halfway through!

A lesser-known writer this week, but one of my favourites, Yang Dian 杨典 and the two opening sentences of his short story, 《朱厌》, which I've tentatively translated for the purposes of this exercise as 'Ape of War'. The story is taken from his as-yet untranslated 2019 collection, Stories from the Goose Cage 《鹅笼记》.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are:
前朝灭亡的最后一个夏日,我那位集病夫、书生、杀手与某秘密社团激进分子于一身的兄弟,我窝藏多年的故知,我不可同日而语的镜子,终于在十字路口法场走到了魂断他乡的绝境。他的死是在我意料中的。

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.

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一周一句 Sunday Sentence #3

By Jack Hargreaves, June 14, '20

For week 3 of Sunday Sentence, we're turning to one of the best-known Chinese writers of the 20th Century, Zhang Ailing, and the opening line of her book, 《色戒》(1979), translated by Julia Lovell and released in 2007 as, of course, Lust, Caution. Thanks to Dylan Levi King for suggesting this "deceptively simple" peach of a sentence.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are:
麻将桌上白天也开着强光灯,洗牌的时候一只只钻戒光芒四射。白桌布四角缚在桌腿上,绷紧了越发一片雪白,白得耀眼。

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.

30 comments

一周一句 Sunday Sentence #2

By Jack Hargreaves, June 6, '20

For this week of Sunday Sentence, we have something entirely different: a big announcement taken from page 118 of Yan Ge's 颜歌《我们家》(2013), released in 2018 as The Chilli Bean Paste Clan, translated by Nicky Harman.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are: 他遂自己端起杯子来把里头的酒喝了,要把勇气豪气和阳气都鸡巴喝出来。给你们说,他宣布,老子又把婆娘的肚皮搞大了。

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.

42 comments

一周一句 Sunday Sentence #1

By Jack Hargreaves, May 30, '20

And we're off! This is the first week of Sunday Sentence, so if you missed the post explaining the activity, click here for more details.

Otherwise... To start we have three sentences for you to translate, taken from page 13 of Jin Yong's 金庸 《射雕英雄传》(first released in 1959), entitled A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes 1) in Anna Holmwood's translation.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are:
他脚步甚快,顷刻间奔出数丈。曲叁右手往怀中一掏,跟着扬手,月光下只见一块圆盘似的黑物飞将出去,托的一下轻响,嵌入了那武官后脑。那武官惨声长叫,单刀脱手飞出,双手乱舞,仰天缓缓倒下,扭转了几下,就此不动,眼见是不活了。

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.

44 comments

Sunday Sentence 一周一句

By Jack Hargreaves, May 28, '20

Eyes peeled and pens sharpened everyone!

Sentence #1 - Jin Yong

Sentence #2 - Yan Ge

Sentence #3 - Zhang Ailing

Sentence #4 - Yang Dian

Sentence #5 - Dorothy Tse

Sentence #6 - Sheng Keyi

Sentence #7 - Yeng Pway Ngon is now online

This Sunday 31st May begins a two-month activity of online translation workshopping which anyone and everyone who knows Chinese and writes English can get involved with. A famously lonely endeavor, translation, when done with others, becomes a rambunctious language game in which all the best nitpicking and head scratching go on. So since face-to-face workshops are called off for the foreseeable future, Paper Republic is launching Sunday Sentence, or in Chinese, 一周一句!
Every Sunday a sentence will be posted here on the website as well as on Twitter and Facebook, and you are invited to have a go translating it! The sentences have been picked by PR team members and other CH-EN translators for being particularly challenging to render in English for some reason or another, challenging enough we hope to produce endless different possible translations and start some discussion around the strategies people employ when translating literary Chinese and the reasons behind their decisions. All translations and discussion should be posted in the comment sections of the Sunday Sentence page when it goes online.
First up is a sentence picked by Anna Holmwood, translator of Jin Yong! So to whet your wuxia appetite, from this Saturday onward, you can listen to Angus Stewart’s conversation with another translator of Jin Yong, Gigi Chang, on the Translated Chinese Fiction podcast
See you this Sunday!

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