By Helen Wang, February 14, '17
Chen Zijin’s novel The Untouched Crime, translated by Michelle Deeter, was published last year by AmazonCrossing. You can find readers’ comments on the amazon website, and if you scroll down the amazon.co.uk page, you can see that AmazonCrossing made this book available to reviewers on Netgalley. But who better to tell us about the book than the translator herself!
By Helen Wang, February 13, '17
The first translations of Sherlock Holmes into Chinese were published with spoiler titles like The Case of Sapphire in the Belly of the Goose, and The Case of the Jealous Woman Murdering Her Husband. Why give the game away so soon? To a large extent, it’s linked to Chinese gong’an [court case] fiction and the famous Judge Bao stories, where the focus is more about what really happened than on whodunit. But what about current crime fiction in China? Emily Jones has recently translated He Jiahong’s novel Black Holes, and we invited her to tell us more…
By Helen Wang, February 12, '17
A few years ago, Li Jingrui switched careers – she quit her job as a journalist (she reported on legal cases, and had a column in the Chinese edition of The Wall Street Journal) and turned to writing fiction. We selected her short story "Missing" for the Read Paper Republic series, and also featured it in our first Speed Book Club event. The story is about a young woman whose husband mysteriously disappears for a few months, and at the book club this opened up an amazing discussion, drawing comparisons with the wives of los desaparecidos in Chile. We also selected a non-fiction piece "One Day, One of the Screws Will Come Loose" by Li Jingrui for the 2nd Bai Meigui Translation Competition with the Writing Chinese project at the University of Leeds. For Global Literature In Libraries this month, we asked Li Jingrui to tell us about her transition from legal journalism to creative writing.
By Eric Abrahamsen, February 11, '17
The following post, part of our Global Literature in Libraries Initiative series, is an email interview with Ken Liu, author and translator of science fiction. Apart from his own fiction Ken is best known around here as the translator of volumes I and III of the Three Body Problem, together with Joel Martinsen, and Clarkesworld magazine's in-depth interest in Chinese science fiction. We talked to him about what Chinese sci-fi has to offer -- take a look!**
By Helen Wang, February 10, '17
Jeff Wasserstrom, professor of history at UC Irvine, is the editor of The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China, which came out last year, author of five books, one of them titled China in the 21st Century; What Everyone Needs to Know! He is very interested in literature as well as history, and he has written reviews of works of Chinese fiction for publications such as the New York Times and the TLS, so we invited him to tell us which book we absolutely had to feature in the GLLI series. He chose The Three Body Problem, the first installment of a trilogy by Liu Cixin, an outstanding work of speculative fiction, and in this piece, as a comparative-minded person, he explores where it sits on the global literature shelf. (Not sure what speculative fiction is? Jeff encourages us to think of it as What If Fiction)
By Nicky Harman, February 9, '17
Surrealist fiction, as exemplified by Franz Kafka and his Kafkaesque absurdities, feels like a very western phenomenon. But it is also a kind of story-telling that some excellent Chinese writers have taken to and given a style and a twist all of their own. Yesterday, I looked at the stories of Dorothy Tse, from Hong Kong. In my second blog on surreal story-tellers in China, I’m writing about Sun Yisheng, one of a small number of independent-minded young authors who have experimented with new styles and stories far removed from the literary realism pervasive in mainland China.
Think of Qiu Miaojin, and the first thing that comes to mind is the Taiwanese writer’s melodramatic death; the second, perhaps, is her sexuality. In June 1995, the lesbian novelist killed herself in Paris shortly after completing Last Words from Montmartre, a semi-autobiographical novel in which the protagonist decides to commit suicide. She was 26.
A Chinese-language RTHK television documentary about her was broadcast this month as a precursor to a longer version in English that will be released later in the year by director Evans Chan Yiu-shing. It should encourage viewers to look past the tabloid sensationalism and to focus on her literary talent, Chan says.
By Nicky Harman, February 8, '17
Surrealist fiction, as exemplified by Franz Kafka and his Kafkaesque absurdities, feels like a very western phenomenon. But it is also a kind of story-telling that some excellent Chinese writers have taken to and given a style and a twist all of their own. Blair Hurley has a nice definition in her writer’s blog: ‘The most chilling or ominous surreal stories are where everything seems normal — until it gradually becomes clear that something is wrong, something is inescapable out of your character’s control.’ In a two-part blog, today and tomorrow, I’ll look at Dorothy Tse and Sun Yisheng, two contemporary Chinese writers who manage that feeling of ‘wrong-ness’, that juxtaposition of the normal and the weird, to perfection. In other ways, however, they are very different from each other and from classic western surreal writing.
By Helen Wang, February 7, '17
Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin is the quintessential Chinese novel. The translation by David Hawkes and John Minford (The Story of the Stone, Penguin Classics) is such a pleasure to read that the Complete Review suggested it as a contender for Book of the Millenium! This much-loved eighteenth-century classic has been adapted for the cinema, for TV, for radio, for the stage and, most recently, as an opera co-produced by the San Francisco Opera and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. So we just had to include it in the GLLI’s China month! In 2016, Ann Waltner, Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, created a free online course Dream of the Red Chamber: Afterlives, with the help of her graduate students. Designed for people who’ve never read the novel before, it’s a great resource – whether you’re reading by yourself or as a book-group. We’re delighted that Ann agreed to write today’s post.
Nick Admussen for his translation of Floral Mutter, a collection of poems by the contemporary Sichuanese poet Ya Shi. A master of disjunctive imagery, Ya Shi brings language to the precipice of the absurd and holds it over the abyss for all to see. Admussen’s translations, which are perfectly balanced and polished, recreate the source poems for us in a language the judges described as “haunting.” In an age when contemporary Chinese poetry is profoundly influenced by its eastern urban centers, Ya Shi stands out as an inimitable voice from the interior. (Forthcoming from Zephyr Press.)
By Helen Wang, February 6, '17
Today's post is about contemporary Chinese poetry, and is written by Eleanor Goodman, poet and award-winning translator - her translation of Something Crosses My Mind: Selected Poems by Wang Xiaoni published by Zephyr Press in 2014, won the Lucien Stryk Translation Prize and was shortlisted for the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize.
By Helen Wang, February 5, '17
My Chinese Books is the blog of Bertrand Mialaret, who reviews the latest Chinese books in translation, with a new review appearing with every few weeks. He's based in Paris, and publishes his blog in French and in English. We invited him to tell us more …