In faraway Wuhan, the springtime has clothed the banks of the Han River in green. But it is a springtime that many people will not see. It is a springtime when the dying could not receive a last kiss from their loved ones. A springtime that passed thirteen million Wuhanese by.
Our News, Your News
By David Haysom, December 28, '19
Now you've read our 2019 lists of English translations and books published in Chinese, here's a preview of some of the translations that will be hitting your shelves in 2020!
The Communist Party’s publicity department told publishers this year that the total number of books getting approvals would shrink, that domestic authors would be favored and that titles that promoted the party and China’s capitalism-infused version of socialism would be most encouraged.
If the enemy commander is avid for advantage, use
it to lure him in;
If he is volatile, seize upon that;
If he is solid, prepare well for battle;
If he is strong, evade him.
If he is angry, rile him.
If he is unpresuming, feed his arrogance.
By David Haysom, December 21, '19
As the year comes to a close, we’ve asked authors, translators, editors, and other friends of Paper Republic to recommend notable books published in Chinese in 2019 – translations into Chinese as well as original works. The resultant list gives an insight into the titles that have made an impression this year – and perhaps offers a preview of some of the books we can hope to see available in English soon!
I originally read the novel in Chinese, for a college class in Shanghai: ‘Introduction to World Literature’. The professor chose ten literary works from different languages for us to read and discuss. I remember falling in love with Rynosuke Akutagawa’s short story collection, Marguerite Duras’s The Lover and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. When it came to the final book, my professor handed out To Live with a broad smile, and suggested that Yu may be China’s greatest contemporary novelist. I share that view.
By Nicky Harman, December 13, '19
Here’s our roll-call of books translated from Chinese in 2019
There’s (almost) something for everyone this year – scifi and Singapore fiction have a strong showing, as do pre-modern classics, and even one self-help book. But still, fewer translated works were published in 2019 than in 2018 (31, as against 40-odd in 2018 ) Worst of all, only four of the list below are women writers. Every year, novels that are funny, sharp, moving and entertaining are published in the Chinese-speaking world – there is plenty for publishers and literary agents to seek out. We at Paper Republic continue to work hard to bring our favourite novels to their attention. (Watch out for our list of 2019 publications in Chinese, to be posted next week.) Read on
By Bruce Humes, December 8, '19
First, it was Howard Goldblatt and his renditions of Mo Yan's novels that helped the Shandong storyteller win the (once coveted) Nobel Prize in Literature. Goldblatt has made it no secret that he edited the text in order to heighten readability.
Now, via an interview with Ken Liu in the New York Times, Why Is Chinese Sci-Fi Everywhere Now? Ken Liu Knows, we learn that translator Liu played a similar role in making Liu Cixin's The Three-body Problem popular in the West:
By Nicky Harman, December 4, '19
On 29th November 2019, Paper Republic launched as a UK-registered charity promoting Chinese literature in translation. We are, as you may know, a virtual organization, with a team of volunteers spread from America to the UK and China. But to celebrate our new non-profit status, we decided to have a fund-raising party in the literary heart of London. The raffle prizes (tea, maotai, books, books and more books, signed by any of their translators who happened to be present) went like hot cakes, and the pub room was jam-packed and raucous. Inevitably, because our supporters are spread all over the world, there were some familiar faces who couldn’t be there and were sadly missed, though Eric Abrahamsen, our founder and Chair of Trustees, made a special trip over from Seattle. But now we’ve got the party bug, we hope to host more literary parties in the US and China in the near future.
-- Natascha Bruce (translator) and Jeremy Tiang (editor) for the translation of Lonely Face by Yeng Pway Ngon (Balestier Press)
-- William Spence (translator) and Tomasz Hoskins (editor) for the translation of The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by XinRan Xue (I B Tauris)
The TA First Translation Prize is shared between the translator and editor (recognising the importance of a good editor). The winners will be announced on 12 Feb 2020.
"Massacre in the Pacific: A Personal Account" - by Du Qiang, tr. Nicky Harman and Emily Jones, in the latest issue of Words Without Borders.
In December 2010, the Lurongyu 2682 (a Chinese squid-jigging vessel) set out for Chile with a crew of 33. Eight months later, there were only 11 of them left. They were tried and charged with 22 murders. Du Qiang interviewed the first crew member to be released after completing his sentence.
The ultimate purpose of a banquet is to get its diners drunk. Only in this way can we connect and become friends, squeeze each other’s shoulders and make dirty jokes. When it goes wrong, it can be ugly: Fights can break out; women might be abused for sport. But when it goes right, mistakes are forgiven; the diners perspire, devour, quaff and sing together, and then, only then, will business be done.
At the party, it soon became obvious that the purpose of this banquet was to get me to sign my next novel with this publishing house. And very quickly, it was clear that the deal would not be sealed: Not only had I refused to drink, but I also disclosed apologetically that I had already signed with a different press.
It doesn't say which ones feature English sub-titles, but most won awards abroad and have English on the poster, so I'd assume most or perhaps all do. Some will also have partial or full Chinese sub-titles, since they aren't necessarily in Mandarin.
Looks like 5 -- oops 7, writes someone in the know -- of the 14 are by Tibetan director Pema Tseden. One would have expected a few focusing on Uyghurs, but that minority has recently been reclassified as , erh, "problematic."
For Chinese notes re: plot and director, click on link.
Here's the schedule:
气球 万 玛 才 旦 2019
102mins ● ▲ ✦
撞死 了 一 只羊 万 玛 才 旦 2018
87mins ▲ ✦
家 在 水草 丰茂 的 地方 李睿 珺 2014
静静 的 嘛呢 石 万 玛 才 旦 2005
102mins ▲ ✦
老狗 万 玛 才 旦 2011
93mins ▲ ✦
行 歌 坐 月 吴 娜 2011 90mins
寻找 智 美 更 登 万 玛 才 旦 2009
五彩 神箭 万 玛 才 旦 2014 88mins ▲
碧罗 雪山 刘杰 2010 93mins
塔洛 万 玛 才 旦 2015 123mins ▲
清水 里 的 刀子 王学博 2016 93mins
盗 马贼 田壮壮 1986 88mins
拉姆 与 嘎贝 松 太 加 2019
第 一次 的 离别 王丽娜 2018 90mins ✦
黑骏马 谢 飞 1997 105mins ● ✦
我们 的 钢 嘎哈拉 ~ 《黑骏马》 ： 二十 三年 后 ~
姚祖彪 2019 40mins 纪录片 +
...I’m very wary about making generalizations ... but I think women writers all acknowledge the fact that they have less visibility. There’s certainly a dominance of men amongst writers and publishers in China. And the publishers are the ones who will package someone’s book and try to sell the rights to western publishers for translation.
By Bruce Humes, November 16, '19
The Spanish-language database here is searchable in several ways:
Title in Spanish
Original title in Chinese
Entries for each of the above are also listed alphabetically, so you can scroll for a look at what is in the database even if you don't have a particular book/author/translator in mind.
It is not anywhere as complete as MCLC's one in English, but still useful.
For the English version -- supported by several pages of the Chinese original -- visit:
For the Chinese translation of the English reportage -- which appears less complete, since PDFs of the Chinese originals are not included -- visit:
Read up, translators. This is a treasure house of translated terms that are likely to be popping up more often in Chinese writing to come . . .
We are planning to launch the first issue of Ancient eXchanges (title yet to be finalized), which will be an online journal devoted to literary translations of ancient texts. We envision the journal to be like the current eXchanges: Journal of Literary Translation, but devoted to literary translations of ancient Greek and Latin texts to begin with, and expanding to include Sanskrit, Sumerian, Classical Chinese, and other ancient languages.
By Michelle Deeter, November 9, '19
Hybrid Pub Scout, the podcast that is mapping the frontier between traditional and indie publishing, interviewed Michelle Deeter about how a book gets translated. The episode is fun and informative, and includes a book giveaway!
[Episode 32 Hybrid Pub Scout] https://hybridpubscout.com/episode-32-book-translator-michelle-deeter/
A woman impulsively decides to visit her grandmother in a scene reminiscent of “Little Red Riding Hood,” only to find herself in a town of women obsessed with a mysterious fermented beverage. An aging and well-respected female newscaster at a provincial TV station finds herself caught up in an illicit affair with her boss, who insists that she recite the news while they have sex. An anonymous city prone to vanishing storefronts begins to plant giant mushrooms for its citizens to live in, with disastrous consequences.
That We May Live includes work from:
After almost two decades in the business of providing the city's book enthusiasts with food for thought, beloved Sanlitun institution The Bookworm will close its doors on Monday, Nov 11.
“Translation strategy has played a part in Murakami’s international acclaim,” says Associate Professor Kōno Shion of Sophia University. “His first English translator, Alfred Birnbaum, grabbed the attention of readers by bringing the pop image to the fore. Then, the translations of Jay Rubin, as a Japanese literary researcher, faithfully conveyed the meaning of the original text, helping to foster wider appreciation for Murakami’s writing style. Like Kawabata and Ōe, Murakami has been blessed with excellent translators. And he has always had translation in mind while writing and in his forming of a tight network with his agent and editors in the English-speaking world.”
“My Favourite Children’s Books” was initiated by Shenzhen Children’s Library 深圳少年儿童图书馆 in 2014, and this year’s list was the sixth. The 2019 awards were co-organised by 39 provincial and city libraries. From January 2019, 5455 books were recommended by 129 institutions and 207 individuals. A panel of 9 experts was involved. 100,000 books were purchased and distributed to 312 schools in 39 provinces and cities across China. A total of 1,309,111 votes were cast.
A total of 30 books (2019年我最喜爱的童书30强) have been selected, 10 in each category: literature, picture books, information books.
Hugo’s current prominence across the People’s Republic of China is particularly intriguing. How can a man linked to a song that has been key to anti-Beijing struggles in Hong Kong since the 2014 Umbrella Movement – one removed from Chinese music-streaming platforms – simultaneously be celebrated in China’s capital, where his many fans include Xi Jinping himself? The answer lies in the multifaceted writings of Hugo spread by globalization, relaying the struggle taking place in China and Hong Kong about what it means today to be both Chinese and a citizen of the world.
—Amy Hawkins and Jeffrey Wasserstrom
By David Haysom, October 31, '19
On Friday November 29th we’re going to be celebrating our new status as a charity with a party at the Coach and Horses (29 Greek Street, London, W1D 5DH). In addition to drinks, book talk, and a raffle, we can now confirm that Eric Abrahamsen, founder and trustee of Paper Republic, will be making a rare UK appearance! Come along to find out more about what we’ve been up to and what we have planned, and learn about the most exciting developments happening in Chinese Literature today.
Sign up now on Eventbrite to join the party.
If you can’t make it, you can still make a contribution through Paypal here (even if you don’t have a Paypal account). Everything you donate will go directly towards supporting the work we do:
- bringing the best works of Chinese literature into English
- supporting emerging translators
- maintaining the internet’s best resource for Chinese literature
In a moment of intergenerational struggle defined by environmental protest groups like Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion, and by the school climate strikes sparked by Thunberg and other young people around the globe, Supernova Era offers a tantalizing glimpse into another universe with an entirely different field of ecological politics, one where parents and grandparents won’t simply let their children and grandchildren suffer and die without a fight.
[...] the Tolkien comparison risks setting up the wrong expectations. Whereas Middle-Earth is a separate realm with its own history, mythology, peoples, literatures, and languages (however much they may echo our own histories and cultures), Jin Yong’s fantastic jianghu, full of men and women endowed with superhuman abilities accomplishing feats that defy the laws of physics, paradoxically derives much of its strength by being rooted in the real history and culture of China. The poems sprinkled among its pages are real poems penned by real poets; the philosophies and religious texts that offer comfort and guidance to its heroes are real books that have influenced the author’s homeland; the suffering of the people and the atrocities committed by invaders and craven officials are based on historical facts.
—introduction to the volume by Ken Liu
Illustration by Ye Luying
Earlier this month, Xi Jinping issued “important comments,” or zhongyao zhishi (重要指示), declaring that Huang Wenxiu (黄文秀), a young village leader in rural Guangxi who died in a flash flood on June 16, had been designated a “national outstanding CCP member” (全国优秀共产党员) by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party — a figure to be celebrated as an exemplar for China’s younger generation.
Like Lei Feng before her, Huang Wenxiu represents the loftiest goal of life: sacrifice for the Chinese Communist Party. After earning her graduate degree in Beijing, said Xi, Huang had “given up work opportunities in the big city and resolved to return to her hometown, joining the front lines of the attack against poverty, sacrificing herself, dedicating her beautiful youth to the original mission of the Chinese Communist Party, composing a spring song of youth for the New Era.”
Her prose, which oscillates between memoir and fiction, has a laconic elegance that echoes the Beat poets. It can also be breezy, a remarkable quality at a time when her homeland, Taiwan, was under martial law in an era known as the “White Terror,” in which many opponents of the government were imprisoned or executed.
—Mike Ives & Katherine Li
The translators, Jessie and David Cowhig and Ross Perlin, have deftly captured the two registers of Liao the poet and Liao the dissident, resulting in dramatic combinations of expressive and earthy language. The raw realities of incarceration (“diarrhea-filled days in such a small space, with all those bastards, skin sticking to skin, reeking ass next to reeking ass”) abut meditations on righteousness, such as Liao’s fantasy of building a monument to China’s tens of millions of ideological criminals, each individual represented by a tear-drop shaped crystal: “Seen from a distance, it won’t look like a monument but like a mountain gleaming with the cold light of eternal tears, one piled on top of another.”
Tencent’s digital publishing platform branch, Chinese Literature, will license and release 40 Star Wars novels in the country for the first time, which will be available for free for a limited time to readers. The company will also commission an “authentic Star Wars story with Chinese characteristics”, written by Chinese Literature’s in-house author “His Majesty the King.”* According to the Weibo post, the story will “bring in Chinese elements and unique Chinese storytelling methods.”
China’s tech firms are trying a variety of methods to remove the translation bottleneck. Webnovel says it has hired a team of more than 200 translators — which it pays directly — and has established a centralized glossary for frequently used terms to make sure the English versions remain consistent.
Many of these contracted workers, however, are not full-time and often struggle with the pressure of juggling two jobs. Oon Hong Wen, a Singaporean translator who signed a contract with Webnovel in June 2017, says he gets up at 6 a.m. to work for two hours before heading to the office and then continues after dinner until 1 a.m.
“Translators are just like authors,” says Oon. “Every day, we open our eyes and think about updating chapters.”
More fascinating insights into language from Michelle Deeter
By David Haysom, October 10, '19
As you may have heard, Paper Republic is now registered in the UK as a charity, and we think that’s something to celebrate!
If you’re if in the UK, we’d love for you to join us at 6.30pm on Friday November 29th at the Coach and Horses (29 Greek Street, London, W1D 5DH) to spend an evening with translators, authors, publishers, readers, and other friends of Paper Republic.
By Bruce Humes, October 8, '19
The new emperor’s Belt & Road Initiative has already resulted in scores of contracts for highways, railways and port construction in Central Asia, Southeast Asia and even East Africa. Perhaps less well known is the PRC's solidly financed soft power campaign that aims to create or translate, publish and disseminate texts in the languages of the “Silk Road” peoples — land- and sea-based — that relate to the history of the ancient trade routes.
This post features the tale of Zhang Qian, diplomat and explorer of the “Western Realm” during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (141-87 BCE). The book is in Chinese and Mongolian (traditional script) and forms part of a "Socialist Core Value" (社会主义核心价值观幼儿绘本) picture-book series for children aged 5-6.
To facilitate comparison, the blogger has provided the text in three languages, five scripts: the original Chinese and Inner Mongolian script (vertical); Hanyu Pinyin; Cyrillic Mongolian (used in Mongolia); and a translation of the text into English.