Zheng Xiaoqiong is widely recognized as the leading voice in Chinese migrant worker poetry. From her sudden rise to prominence in 2007, when she was awarded the Liqun Literature Award by the prestigious People’s Literature magazine, she has become the most feted and translated Chinese migrant worker poet writing today. But Zheng herself has rejected that label and the implicit limits that come with it. While much of her work from her early years does deal with her time spent …
Our News, Your News
By Jack Hargreaves, February 6, '22
A few of us had the pleasure of hearing Shiyan Xu speak at the launch of Paper Republic's latest Reads series, Figures in a Landscape, a partnership with Perspectives in the Arts and Humanities Asia to present short stories from their double issue dedicated to Nanjing literature. We thought a conversation with her about her most recent book, Mo Yan Speaks: Lectures and Speeches by the Nobel Laureate from China, would make for the perfect next feature. Enjoy!
You can buy the book here
By Jack Hargreaves, February 4, '22
Hello one and all. The title is my favourite of the New Year's related wordplay I've seen so far -- a happy and fortune-filled one to you, by the way -- but if you've heard or come up with better, please share it in the comments below.
This month's feature is a conversation with Shiyan Xu, a professor of English at Nanjing Normal University and Deputy Editor-in-Chief for Chinese Arts and Letters, who late last year had a compilation of the Nobel-Prize-winning author Mo Yan's speeches and lectures published with Cambria Press. Shiyan edited the collection, which she worked on with a number of translators and experts. A few of the team had the pleasure of hearing Shiyan speak at the launch of Paper Republic's latest Reads series, Figures in a Landscape, a partnership with Perspectives in the Arts and Humanities Asia to present short stories from their double issue dedicated to Nanjing literature.
On to the news!
By Nicky Harman, February 4, '22
Two China-lit-focussed programmes on BBC radio: Saturday 5 February, The Cultural Frontline, "We hear from two award-winning sci fi writers. Chen Qiufan is the author of a series of short stories called AI 2041, 10 Visions of Our Future. And Xia Jia’s first English language collection, A Summer Beyond Your Reach, was published a few months ago." https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct1ptx And BBC Radio 3, Sunday 6 February, Paul French "A Chinese Odyssey: Artists, Poets and Exiles in Interwar London. Between 1937 and 1945, a small group of émigré Chinese artists and intellectuals living in London forged a unique bond between Britain and China. Paul French recovers the story." Sunday Feature https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00147jr
Roundtable event to mark the publication of the first edition of the Paper Republic Guide to Contemporary Chinese Literature
Paper Republic is thrilled to announce the publication of the first edition of the Guide to Contemporary Chinese Literature, a distillation of the knowledge and experience of the Paper Republic team, and of translators and academics in the broader community, into an authoritative 300-page bird’s-eye view of Chinese fiction since the middle of last century.
This roundtable event brings together four contributors to the Guide: Paper Republic co-founder, Eric Abrahamsen, and three essay authors, Xiaolu Guo, Emily Xueni Jin, and Andrea Lingenfelter, who are also authors, translators and specialists in their own right. They will be discussing the length, breadth and depth of contemporary Chinese literature, describing the importance of the Guide in its first edition and how that will expand in the future, and sharing sneak peeks into their essays and the Guide’s contents.
By Eric Abrahamsen, January 10, '22
Paper Republic is partnering with Perspectives in the Arts and Humanities Asia, a journal at Ataneo de Manila University, to launch their newest double-issue focused on Nanjing Literature and Art.
This means two things: 1) you can attend the Zoom launch event by clicking on this link and registering. The event takes place January 11th, 4:30pm Manila time.
And 2), it means a new Read Paper Republic series of online short stories, and about time, too! We'll be publishing digital versions of the six short stories in this issue of PAHA, one a week, starting tomorrow. Free to read, as always. Please stay tuned for awesome new translations of Cao Kou, Su Tong, Han Dong, and Li Qiang!
By Jack Hargreaves, January 10, '22
We were very excited to see this tweet promising an upcoming Han Song publication from Amazon Crossing. While the book is a ways out from publication yet, we thought it would be interesting to talk to Gabriella Page-Fort, Editorial Director of Amazon Crossing, who acquired the title, and ask her a few quick questions about how and why she picked it up. Now we’re looking forward to it even more!
By Jack Hargreaves, January 9, '22
Happy New Year everyone! We hope you've found time for rest, relaxation and recuperation over the festive period -- a slowing down of things, if only briefly. And with another new year only just around the corner, this is a period of transitions, whether smooth or difficult, so here we are with very little segue, the first feature of 2022, a conversation between Eric and the editor of a number of books we were over the moon to see will be coming out in translation next year.
But first, remember to sign up here if you'd like to receive this newsletter in all its email glory!
In fact, signing up is the only way you're going to have longer features like this one laid out top-to-tail for your perusal. Otherwise, we'll be posting them on a separate page on the site for you to access, like this month's conversation which you can find here!
Also, tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan 10) marks the launch of a new collab, with Perspectives in the Arts and Humanities Asia: a special double issue on Nanjing literature & art, from which we'll be publishing six new translations of work by Nanjing authors, including Han Dong, Su Tong and Cao Kou. So make sure to check the website every Tuesday over the next few weeks to catch the newest instalment in our Read Paper Republic series.
And in other news:
Bernardini's arrest was reported in the news across the world on Jan 6th - an Italian who worked at Simon & Schuster, he also translated Rao Pingru's "Our Story" into Italian.
The comic novel, The Adventures of Ma Suzhen, was written during a highpoint in the popularity of xia "knight-errant" fiction. It is an action-packed tale of a young woman who takes revenge for her brother, Ma Yongzhen, a gangster and performing strongman, who has been murdered by a rival gang in China's most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai. After publication of the book in 1923, the character of Ma Suzhen appeared on stage, and subsequently in a film made by the Mingxing Film Company. The book version translated here, displays a delightful combination of the xia and popular"Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies" genres, with additional elements of Gong'an "court case" fiction. The translation is followed by an essay that explores the background to the legend of Ma Suzhen - a fictional figure, whose exhilarating escapades reflect some of the new possibilities and freedoms available to women following the founding of the Chinese Republic.
Translation and essay by Paul Bevan. Published by Springer Link, December 2021
By Nicky Harman, December 13, '21
There’s good and bad news this year. The good news is that books translated from Chinese have won an encouragingly wide selection of translation prizes and awards. For the first time, we have listed them below in different categories: prizes, awards and ‘other successes’. The not-so-good news is that, as in previous years, women writers and women poets are far less well-represented than men. The gender imbalance in all categories is shocking!
As usual, please let us know if you’d like to add books, star reviews and awards that we may have missed off the lists. Finally, we’re delighted to be able to add links to lists of books translated from Chinese into other languages. (Do let us know if there are more we can include.)
An online exhibition of seven short films from the Tibetan, Mongol, Uyghur, and Ewenki filmmakers and meeting up with the filmmakers, this Saturday, 11 Dec, 13:00 – 15:00 GMT
By Jack Hargreaves, December 6, '21
Hello and happy holidays y'all. I say that now, since the newsletter has settled into a regular monthly release for the time being, and this is the last you'll hear from me until the New Year. In the meantime, the PR team will get to planning the features for 2022, so if there's a subject you'd like to see us zoom in on -- be it an author, upcoming release, recent trend, anything Chinese lit related really -- please send your suggestions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and remember, you can sign up for the email version of this newsletter here.
My choice picks from this edition are, in no particular order, Chaoyang Trap House's evolving dictionary of the Chinese internet, because it taught me a new phrase, the new episode of "Sinophone Unrealities", because Natascha Bruce, Dorothy Tse and birds, and the LitHub excerpt from Lydia Davis' new book of essays on translation, because, well, because...
"In translating, you are forming phrases and sentences that please you at least to some extent and most of the time. You have the pleasure of working with sound, rhythm, image, rhetoric, the shape of a paragraph, tone, voice. And [...] you have this writing pleasure within the island of the given text, within its distinct perimeter."
On to 2022!
By Jack Hargreaves, November 12, '21
Hi all, sporadic newsflash time. Last week was the American Literary Translators Association conference, so for something a little different before the links, I thought I'd speak to fellow ALTA mentee, Jenna Tang (Chieh-Lan Tang), about her work.
Under the guidance of editor and translator Mike Fu, Jenna has been translating Taiwanese author Lin Yi-Han’s debut novel Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise, which, as an unflinching depiction of rape culture and misogyny as foundational to social stability, was instrumental in the start of the #MeToo Movement in Taiwan. Jenna has already finished the translation and is on the lookout for a suitable publisher, so watch this space.
Jenna chose the book because of how close to home its contents feel for her. She attended the same university as Yi-Han and says she can relate to experiences the author describes of corruption within the Taiwanese educational system and of the dangers that haunt female students day to day yet constantly get overlooked.
Jenna's plan now that the program has come to an end, besides enjoy the conference this week and continue her literary translation journey, is to start a column about literary translation, multilingualism, and home & languages, focusing more on her own writing as well as giving space to spotlighting the work of other translators with book reviews. Again, watch this space!
Thanks Jenna! Looking forward to seeing more of your work in the future, we'll always feature it here.
We'll be developing this editorial feature in future issues, so please share if there is anyone/anything you'd like us to talk to in more detail. And if you'd like to receive those future issues straight into your inbox, remember to subscribe here.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming:
Join the author and translators Nicky Harman and James Trapp for the launch of Open-Air Cinema, Su Tong's newest collection of Sanwen in translation.
When this narrative nonfiction book was published in China in 2010, it sold more than 250,000 copies. With its impassioned criticisms of the despair and hardships of life in China’s countryside, now sensitively rendered in English by Emily Goedde, some might wonder if such a book could be published today. But Liang’s scholarship, which spans reportage, criticism and analysis, is fair-minded and sanguine; she is already working on a third instalment (a second was published in China in 2013, to great acclaim).
Part of the full list of longlisted titles, in alphabetical order, is as follows:
Nana Ekvtimishvili, The Pear Field, translated from Georgian by Elizabeth Heighway (Peirene Press, 2020)
Annie Ernaux, A Girl's Story, translated from French by Alison L. Strayer (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2020)
Jenny Erpenbeck, Not a Novel, translated from German by Kurt Beals (Granta, 2020)
Yan Ge, Strange Beasts of China, translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang (Tilted Axis Press, 2020)
Hiromi Kawakami, People from My Neighbourhood, translated from Japanese by Ted Goossen (Granta, 2020)
Mieko Kawakami, Breasts and Eggs, translated from Japanese by Sam Bett and David Boyd (Picador, 2020)
Esther Kinsky, Grove, translated from German by Caroline Schmidt (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2020)
Camille Laurens, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, translated from French by Willard Wood (Les Fugitives, 2020)
By Helen Wang, November 2, '21
With #COP26 underway, can we try and put together a list of Chinese fiction in English translation on themes of the environment and climate change? I'll start with a few links below, please add more in the comments!