Our News, Your News
By Helen Wang, December 10, '20
Nicky Harman has just won a major award in China - The Special Book Award of China. It’s the 14th year of the awards and they are a big thing. As she was unable to attend the ceremony in China, on Monday, one of her publishers (Sinoist Books) and Guanghwa Bookshop organised a surprise zoom party for her, inviting the Chinese Cultural Attaché, her authors and friends in the Chinese literature community around the world either to attend in person or to send a short video recording. It was wonderful to see everyone! Even the Cultural Attaché, whose role was to be the official, was bowled over by the genuine friendship and informal atmosphere of the occasion - and that it was a meeting of friends! The organisers have just put the highlights on Youtube - https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=jsW1aUsPvds.
Talk by Prof David De-Wei Wang to the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi
(Wang's new book "Why Fiction Matters in Contemporary China" - UP of New England, Brandeis Imprint, Dec 2020, ISBN 9781684580262)
Call for Applications: Two series co-editors, one with expertise in Asian literatures and one with expertise in Middle Eastern and/or African literatures, for Best Translations: An Annual Anthology, a new publishing project
By Jack Hargreaves, December 3, '20
The final sentence of series one went up in mid-July. By the end of the week, the total number of translations contributed since the game's beginning by lots of lovely translators, one of whom doesn't read Chinese and two of which were computer programmes, had reached 139 -- if I've counted right that is, which I don't think I did, so let's just go with 'enough to consider a second series'. So here it is!
Well actually, first, we'd like your help. That's right, not only are we asking you to translate this time around, we're inviting you to suggest the sentences too!
Please send any sentence (or two) from Chinese-language fiction that excites, dazzles, bamboozles or floors you to firstname.lastname@example.org (sentences from short stories particularly welcome —— you'll find out why later!).
With every submission, please include: the sentence, book/story it is taken from, page number (if you know it), author, and a little context.
We'll start the new series in 2021.
If you missed series one and you're wondering what this is all about, have a look at the series intro here, with links to the sentences we translated over the eight weeks.
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
For the very first time, Sanmao – a name that is so widely known to generations of Chinese readers – has been translated into English by Chinese-American writer and editor Mike Fu.
Join a discussion between Mike and Nicky Harman, who have both translated Chinese women authors with transnational writing experience.
By Bruce Humes, November 25, '20
They are Fang Fang, author of Wuhan Diary, and Uyghur writer Muyesser Abdul'ehed (pen name Hendan Hiyal), now living overseas in Istanbul.
All 100 listed here.
By Bruce Humes, November 20, '20
"Uyghur Poetry in Translation" live online
November 24, 2020 (12:00-13:15, Eastern Time, US)
Opening remarks: Mark Elliott, Harvard’s Vice Provost of International Affairs
Poets performing: Tahir Hamut and Rena Yashar Aybal
Translators to speak: Dr Gülnar Eziz (Harvard Preceptor in Uyghur and Chaghatay), and Dr. Joshua Freeman (Princeton’s Department of East Asian Studies)
Watch a literary exploration of the city of Shanghai as part of a very special event, showcasing Comma's city anthology The Book of Shanghai, which features ten contemporary Chinese authors. The two contributing authors Chen Danyan and Wang Zhanhai will share with you what it is like to be a young, female writer in China today, writing about the lives of urban Chinese residents.
A joint event between the Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester and Comma Press.
Short stories are under-represented in translation but they have much to offer. Eric Abrahamsen and Dylan Levi King discuss why readers, and publishers, should dive in.
The awards were announced on 12 November 2020 at the China Shanghai International Children's Bookfair. (For winners in previous years, see Wikipedia)
By Bruce Humes, November 9, '20
Angus Stewart recently interviewed me about translating Chi Zijian's novel that chronicles the tragic twilight of the reindeer-herding, Tungusic-speaking Evenki of northeastern China. The tale has since been translated into several languages, including French, Japanese and Swedish (see comments section for URLs).
By Bruce Humes, November 7, '20
This workshop aims to explore the shifting definitions of the borderland as a territorial gateway, a geopolitical space, a contact zone, a liminal terrain, and an imaginary portal. To this end, participants will explore the intersection of ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and ecological dynamics that inform the cartography of the Chinese borderland, from the Northeast to the Southwest, from Inner Mongolia to Tibet, and from Nanyang to Nanmei.
For workshop speakers/themes, click here.
To register and receive a Zoom link, please click here.
Yanshuo Zhang (University of Michigan): Shen Congwen’s Idealized Ethnic: Borderland, Ethnicity, and the Spiritual Enchantments of a Modern Master
Christopher Peacock (Columbia University): “Unsavory Characters: Forced Bilingualism in the Tibetan Fiction of Tsering Döndrup”
Mark Bender (Ohio State University): “Treading Poetic Borders in Southwest China and Northeast India”
A real-time, online Q & A with Zhang Lijia, author of 'Lotus,' a novel set in Shenzhen in the year 2000.
Tue, Nov 10 · 8:00 PM GMT
"Lotus is a rollicking, sexy novel, but it's not just another fun read. The novel provides so much insight into the underside of China's roaring economy and the immense pressure on young migrants to get rich quick. In Lijia Zhang's tour of the sex industry, you'll find not only sleaze, but soul."
--Barbara Demick, former China bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times.
Reports NPR: "... if you want to write fan fiction anywhere in China, you have to do it under an account that's linked to your real name."
By Eric Abrahamsen, October 30, '20
From the press release:
The Newman Prize honors Harold J. and Ruth Newman, whose generous endowment of a chair at the University of Oklahoma enabled the creation of the OU Institute for US-China Issues in 2006. OU is also home to the Chinese Literature Translation Archive, Chinese Literature Today, World Literature Today and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Juror Eric Abrahamsen said of the winner, “Yan’s writing does for the Chinese heartland what John Steinbeck did for the American West, or Thomas Hardy for Southwest England…he remains vitally invested in the ethical responsibility of the author. Though it has been demonstrated to him again and again that his explorations of China’s historical trauma are not welcome, he seems not to take the hint, and persists in laying bare what he sees as the original sins of modern Chinese society…His stubbornness, and the perpetual freshness of his sorrow over historical tragedy, are worthy of respect.”
See below for the full text of the press release.
Indigenous Cultural Translation is about the process that made it possible to film the 2011 Taiwanese blockbuster Seediq Bale in Seediq, an endangered indigenous language. Seediq Bale celebrates the headhunters who rebelled against or collaborated with the Japanese colonizers at or around a hill station called Musha starting on October 27, 1930, while this book celebrates the grandchildren of headhunters, rebels, and collaborators who translated the Mandarin-language screenplay into Seediq in central Taiwan nearly eighty years later.
Congratulations! 2 out of the 12 longlisted titles are translations from Chinese!
Lake Like a Mirror by Ho Sok Fong, translated from Chinese by Natascha Bruce (Granta Publications, 2019)
White Horse by Yan Ge, translated from Chinese by Nicky Harman (HopeRoad Publishing, 2019)
By Dylan Levi King, October 19, '20
In China in Ten Words, Yu Hua describes stubbing his toe on stacks of Lu Xun books gathering dust in the office of a provincial cultural center and saying to himself, "'That guy's days are over, thank goodness!'" (this is from the translation by Allan H. Barr).
As Yu Hua puts it, Lu Xun went "from being an author to being a catchphrase and then back again." Lu Xun’s legacy was flattened in the long half-century after his death. When state control over literature loosened on both sides of the Straits in the ‘80s, attempts were made to reinflate the flattened Lu Xun, but perhaps the damage was already done.
What changed Yu Hua’s mind was picking up the collected short fiction after a director pitched him on writing a script based on some of Lu Xun’s stories.
It made me think back to those books of his under the table in the cultural center, and it seemed to me now that they had been trying to tell me something. When they tripped me up as I went in and out of my office, they were actually dropping a hint, quietly but insistently signaling the presence of a powerful voice within the dusty tomes.
I always found the veneration of Lu Xun understandable, and I appreciate his contributions to contemporary Chinese literature, but I found it hard to see much vital and pressing in his work. Matt Turner’s translation of Lu Xun’s Weeds was a minor revelation last year.
Toward the end of every year, when China’s magazines, newspapers, and online portals publish their lists of the best books of the year, we are reminded of the vast gulf between the books that are being read in China and the books being translated from Chinese for readers around the world.....
Thu, 22 October 2020, 19:00 – 20:15 British Summer Time
We'll discuss our (wildly!) different translations of an excerpt from a short story by Shen Dacheng (沈大成) from her 2020 collection entitled Asteroids in the Afternoon (小行星掉在下午), published by Imaginist Press. The excerpt and the translations will be made available prior to the event. It doesn't matter if you don't know a word of Chinese....You can still expect some great online entertainment.
By Nicky Harman, October 13, '20
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
Every year the International Youth Library, in Munich, selects outstanding new children's books from around the world for its annual White Ravens catalogue, published in time for the Frankfurt Book Fair (Nov). This year, 200 titles were selected in 36 languages from 56 countries, including EIGHT written in Chinese. The blog also includes a link to a newly created list of the 139 Chinese White Ravens since 1984.
By Bruce Humes, October 1, '20
At the same time that it lays bare the ground that shaped this particular family, “Bestiary” also paints a portrait of Taiwanese identity, poking at the various histories and horrors that built the island and its citizens. A place where “Ma doesn’t measure her life in years but in languages: Tayal and Yilan Creole in the indigo fields where she was born … Japanese during the war, Mandarin in the Nationalist-eaten city. Each language worn outside her body, clasped around her throat like a collar.” From pirates to soldiers and those who came before, the men who claimed Taiwan and the women who sustained it, the country’s evolution is as much a part of the book’s collection of beasts as is the tiger spirit.