By Nicky Harman, October 23, '17
Han Dong's first film, One Night at the Wharf, adapted from his novella At the Wharf/在码头, had its first showing at Busan Film Festival last week and got a decent review in Variety. Han Dong directed it, Jia Zhangke was the producer. No news about when it's coming westward yet. More pictures of the screening here.
André Lévy, a renowned translator of Chinese erotica into French, passed away on Oct 3, 2017. His translations included: «Fleur en Fiole d’Or » (金瓶梅)，« Sublime discours de la Chine candide: manuel d’érotologie chinoise» (素女妙論), «La Pérégrination vers l’Ouest» (西遊記) . . .
This short memoir, which Tang posted to her blog “Moments of Samsara,” captures the confusion of childhood, the personal tragedy brought on by political and natural disasters, and the first inkling of the author’s emerging moral compass. She shows us her conception of the world on the eve of Mao Zedong’s death on September 9, 1976, when she was in fourth grade, and how that worldview underwent its own seismic shift when the “Great Helmsman” left. The Cultural Revolution had worn on for a decade and had shaped Tang, but not quite in the way the Communist Party intended.
Da’nanpo was home to Han, Kazakh, Uyghur and Hui families, and we grew up speaking a range of languages. Our mother’s Gansu dialect seemed to come to us mixed in with her breast milk and, from the time we could walk, we eavesdropped on our father chatting in Uyghur with the neighbors. It was one of our favorite pastimes. We learned who had died, whose baby was being named, whose daughter was getting married, which household was slaughtering a sheep to make polo, a Central Asian pilaf traditionally eaten by hand. We followed behind our father whenever he stepped out for süt chay or mutton, like a pack of little dogs trailing behind their leader, hoping for a go at a bone.
David Jacobson’s survey of translations of children’s and YA Literature translated from Chinese, Japanese and Korean - David Jacobson (editorial consultant at Chin Music Press, and author of Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko) has prepared a survey of translations from Chinese, Japanese and Korean in preparation for the 12th IBBY Regional Conference, at the University of Washington, Seattle, 19-22 October 2017. He will be on the panel “Asian American Experiences in Children’s Books” (Panel presentation: David Jacobson, Uma Krishnaswami, Philip Lee, Linda Sue Park).
By Nicky Harman, October 9, '17
Read it here
Jjwxc.net said in an online message to all of its users on Friday that "all topics and posts involving politics and related news" are banned from all sections of the website in accordance with laws and regulations."
The message also said that the site is hiring a number of inspectors to review politically related content on the website.
By Eric Abrahamsen, October 6, '17
Deadline is March 1st, 2018 for the Vermont Studio Center/Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowships. Five poets and five translators can travel to Vermont for a four-week residency to work on poetry and poetry translation. See this link for details, and information on past fellows.
By Nicky Harman, October 1, '17
Interactive Book Launch: Happy Dreams, Guanghwa Bookshop. Tuesday, 3 October 2017 from 19:30 to 21:00 (BST), London, United Kingdom
By Nicky Harman, October 1, '17
I've written a few blogs to promote my translation of Jia Pingwa's 《高兴》, published by Amazon Crossing as "Happy Dreams". Here's one, for Bookanista. We're also running at least two live events in London. Watch this space.
By David Haysom, September 30, '17
Following last year's novel《茧》(Cocoon), Zhang Yueran has a new volume of stories entitled 《我循着火光而来》 (I Came Towards the Flame). An event to mark the launch last Sunday featured Zhang Yueran in conversation with Su Tong, and various other appearances by video – including author Lu Nei and translator (and friend of Paper Republic!) Anna Gustafsson Chen.
Looking back on how my books have roamed the world, I see there are three factors: translation, publication and readers. I’ve noticed that in China discussions about Chinese literature in a world context focus on the importance of translation, and of course, translation is important, but if a publisher doesn’t publish, then it doesn’t matter how good a translation is, if it’s going to be locked in a drawer, old-style, or, these days, stored on a hard drive. Then there are the readers. If a publisher publishes a book, and the readers don’t pick up on it, then the publisher will lose money and won’t want to publish any more Chinese literature. So, these three factors – translation, publication and readers – are all essential.
Set in China’s 21st-century Inner Mongolia, the novel is a semi-autobiographical tale by Guo Xuebo (郭雪波), a Mongol who grew up speaking the language of his people. It comprises three distinct but intertwined narratives: A spiritual journey, in which the narrator — ostensibly the author — seeks his Shamanic roots, long obscured in post-1949, officially atheist China; vignettes from the Mongolian adventures of Henning Haslund-Christensen, born to a Danish missionary family in the Chahar grasslands in 1896, and real-life author of the anthropological masterpiece Men and Gods in Mongolia; and the tribulations of Teelee Yesu, a modern-day fictional Mongol herdsman, considered by many to be the village idiot, whose very survival is threatened by desertification and the machinations of a coal mining company that covets the traditional pastures of the Mongols.
This excerpt from Mongolia (蒙古里亚) treats comically two taboo topics almost never mentioned in Chinese news reports or fiction: The exploitation of traditional Mongolian pasture lands by ruthless coal mining firms, and the use of self-immolation by China’s ethnic minorities to protest government policies aimed at acculturation.
Chinese authorities have recently blocked various Islam-related words invented by Chinese netizens. The ban comes after consecutive online controversies on the topic of Chinese Muslims and Islam in China; the tone of the discussions reportedly “undermines ethnic unity.”
Earlier this year, I saw a standard contract that a major Beijing publisher uses with its authors and that no doubt reflects practice all across China. Provision Two of the contract lists the items to be censored: any language that violates the honor or interests of the state, harms national unity, leaks state secrets, insults the nation’s outstanding cultural traditions, and so on; a catch-all category at the end says, “or that violates other regulations.” Provision Five spells out who will decide which words in a text are to be censored:
Publisher has the right, in accordance with the publishing laws and regulations of the State, to make deletions, revisions, and additions to the Work. If changes are major, Publisher should consult with Author to obtain agreement. If Author refuses to revise or, after repeated revisions, has failed to satisfy Provision Two of this agreement, Publisher has the right to cancel the contract.
In the Young Readers section, three of the six finalists were translations - details of all nominated books in this section on World Kid Lit Month
DEADLINE EXTENDED: Thursday 30 November 2017
To celebrate the tenth anniversary issue of Cha and to mark the twentieth anniversary of Hong Kong's handover, we are hosting Cha International Poetry Prize 2017, in collaboration with PEN Hong Kong.
Issue Four of Freeman's magazine is out, with A Yi's story "An Unsolved Case", translated by Jeremy Tiang, and Xu Zechen's "The Dog's Been Barking All Day", translated by Eric Abrahamsen.
For three decades, China has been running what amounts to a huge social experiment: a one-child policy that limits each family to have only one offspring. The policy has led to a greater gender imbalance than the global average. In 2015, Beijing relaxed this policy to allow two children per family. But in Maggie Shen King’s debut novel, An Excess Male, China continues to face this real-world dystopian scenario.
In an alternate timeline set in the near future, the one-child policy has continued for several decades, radically changing the social structure. In this world, a woman can take up to three husbands, depending on how “patriotic” a family decides to be and how desperately in need of cash they are.
By Nicky Harman, September 13, '17
Bookriot: A Conversation Between Literary Translators Marian Schwartz and Nicky Harman
Marian Schwartz is the award-winning translator of “Russian crime queen” Polina Dashkova’s first book to be translated into English, Madness Treads Lightly. She is the principal English translator of the works of Nina Berberova, and translated the New York Times bestseller The Last Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky, as well as classics by Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, Yuri Olesha, and Mikhail Lermontov.
Nicky Harman, winner of the Mao Tai Cup People’s Literature Chinese-English translation prize 2015 and the 2013 China International Translation Contest, Chinese-to-English section, and is the translator of Happy Dreams by Jia Pingwa, one of China’s most celebrated writers.
We’ve brought them together to talk about their process, communicating with their (still living) authors, difficulties in their work, and more...
By Nicky Harman, September 11, '17
Here's a nice article I came across in Atlas Obscura about authors (Maya Nandakumar gives mainly classical ones as examples) who invent their own words. Made me think of a few living Chinese authors who seem to be similarly inventive with words or expressions ... Jia Pingwa comes to mind. On the other hand, when I can't find certain mystifying expressions anywhere else online, I often wonder if it's really the author's own invention or just that certain varieties of language (local dialects) are poorly represented on the internet....
By Nicky Harman, September 10, '17
In Sheffield on Monday 16th October? Come and hear Nicky Harman and Michelle Deeter debate their competing translations of an Aman Song short story, in "Forty Nine Degrees – Chinese Translation Slam." In the heat of a traffic jam, a man and woman get stuck in a taxi on their way to visit the woman’s parents. She’s a graduate with few prospects; he’s the man her parents desperately want her to marry. Will they make the train? With host Deborah Smith from Tilted Axis Press. 7:30pm.
First enfeoffed by Qing Emperor Qianlong in 1758, this Uyghur dynasty in northeastern Xinjiang eventually boasted a line of eleven monarchs, popularly known as the “King of Kuqa” (库车王). Kuqa was an ancient Buddhist kingdom located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert, but to most Chinese today, the term signifies the city of Kuche. The last in the line, Dawut Makosuti (达吾提·麦合苏提), passed away in 2014.
Geremie Barmé takes a look at the recent decision of Cambridge University Press to reinstate content deleted from the online version of its China Quarterly available in China:
Chinese censorship has come a long way.
During his rule in the second century B.C.E., the First Emperor 秦始皇 of a unified China, Ying Zheng 嬴政, famously quashed the intellectual diversity of his day by ‘burning the books and burying the scholars’ 焚書坑儒. He not only got rid of troublesome texts, he deleted their authors and potential readers as well.
Jun Liu talks about co-translating with Bruce Humes - "Confessions of a Jade Lord" (时间悄悄的嘴脸), by Uyghur author Alat Asem (阿拉提·阿斯木), depicting the life of a big-shot jade trader based in Xinjiang, Northwest China.
“Singapore used to be like a linguistic tropical rain forest — overgrown, and a bit chaotic but very vibrant and thriving,” said Tan Dan Feng, a language historian in Singapore. “Now, after decades of pruning and cutting, it’s a garden focused on cash crops: learn English or Mandarin to get ahead and the rest is useless, so we cut it down.”
By Bruce Humes, August 27, '17
Glossing Africa is a fascinating piece on “glossing” — different ways to do it, and what it signifies when it is (or is not) employed. In this piece, glossing refers to practices for clarifying an indigenous term by providing a glossary, footnotes, inserting a brief definition, etc.
Of course, we translators also frequently have to decide whether to gloss or not. In Chi Zijian’s Last Quarter of the Moon, for instance, I counted about 125 Evenki terms, including for proper names, place names and unique aspects of Evenki culture. More recently, Liu Jun and I co-translated Confessions of a Jade Lord by Alat Asem, in which there are many Uyghur and Arabic terms.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the popular Nigerian author now splitting her time between the US and Nigeria (and one of the rare contemporary African authors to have several novels available in Chinese), is definitely not a fan of glossing:
There’s a part of me that just deeply resents the fact that there’re many parts of the world where the fiction that comes from there is read as anthropology rather than as literature. And increasingly that kind of anthropological reading then means that… you’re explaining your world rather than inhabiting your world.