“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

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Small Town

by Li Jingrui, translated by Helen Wang

1

You can find the same kind of park in every small town. They’re all identical: a park with a small lake covered in water lilies, a few wooden boats that nobody rows tied to the so-called jetty, bright yellow duck-shaped motorised boats puttering around in the middle of the water. The weeping willows trail their branches as they do in poems, though their leaves are grey with dust, except in late March, when the new growth slowly unfurls, a...

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Chinese Literature in Translation: To Gloss or Not?

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.

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Dialect, obscenities and (religious) swearing: different languages, same translation issues

By Nicky Harman, August 24, '17

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I came across this fascinating discussion on the Facebook page of the (UK) Translators Association Diaspora and with David Warriner's permission am re-posting it here.

22 August 2017, from David Warriner:

Here's a challenge for the hive mind: I'm translating a literary crime thriller set in coastal Quebec that's peppered with local flavour, mainly through religious swearing. The main challenge with the novel is going to be keeping that local flavour through the characters' speech while maintaining readability for a predominantly British audience. Most of the expressions are used so frequently, it's not really an option to keep them in French. And they're peppered so liberally throughout the characters' speech, they're not really swear words anymore. Anyway, I'm hoping to gather some ideas for religious almost-swear words along the lines of Sweet bejesus! and Christ on a bike! for tackling gems such as Saint-ciboire de câlisse! For context, think middle-aged, salt-crusted fisherman propping up the bar at the pub on the docks. Thanks in advance for any ideas."

Click "Leave a Comment" to read the responses

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Beijing Book Fair: List of Related Forums/Salons, etc?

By Bruce Humes, August 13, '17

Each year there are dozens of literary events timed to coincide with the Beijing International Book Fair (Aug 23-27, 2017). They take place both on the fair grounds and throughout the capital, and sponsors include Paper Republic.

As lists of these events-- in Chinese or English -- become available, please list here so that we can all benefit . . .

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Shanghai Moves to Ensure Independent Bookstores Toe the Line

By Bruce Humes, July 19, '17

Sad to learn that the last Jifeng Bookstore (季风), located at the Shanghai Library metro station, will close its doors in January 2018, according to the South China Morning Post. The original opened at Shanghai’s South Shaanxi Road metro station in 1997, and a string of other branches followed over the next decade.

It was during a break from my busy China speaking tour in 2000 about how importers abroad were using the Internet to source China-made goods, that right there in the South Shaanxi station I happened upon a copy of the very naughty 上海宝贝, the first Chinese novel I was to translate (Shanghai Baby). If it hadn’t been banned by then, it was certainly banned quickly thereafter.

The SCMP makes it clear that Jifeng is closing because the Shanghai authorities continually interfere with its efforts to host seminars and the like, events often referred to as 文化沙龙. This puts the few remaining independent booksellers in a bind: Book sales are increasingly monopolized by online vendors and massive Xinhua Bookstores, yet when independents try to branch out into other types of products and services — à la Eslite in Taiwan (诚品书店) — they are thwarted by the local culture department.

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“I Am Fan Yusu”: Speeding Up Time-to-Market

By Bruce Humes, May 30, '17

It can take several years for a piece of Chinese fiction to reach the English-speaking world. But thanks to publication in Chinese on the Internet — and translators working from it rather than the printed book — it looks like this time-to-foreign-reader can be radically reduced. Hopefully, this will help outsiders more quickly grasp what is going on in the “black box” that is China.

Reports Manya Koetse: “I Am Fan Yusu” went viral on Chinese social media in late April 2017. The author has since gone into hiding and her essay has been removed.

In some ways, the popularity of the essay in China is comparable to the recent hype over Alex Tizon’s essay “My Family’s Slave” on Western social media; this non-fiction story about ‘Lola’ Eudocia Tomas Pulido from the Philippines, who lived as a modern slave with an American family for 56 years, went viral on Twitter and Facebook in May. It gripped its many readers for exposing poignant problems in modern-day society that usually stay behind closed doors.

Fan Yusu’s account, in its own way, also revealed the harsh realities of an ever-changing society. China has an estimated 282 million rural migrant workers. The autobiographical tale focuses on the difficult childhood and adult life of one person . . .

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Translation Workshop, Hong Kong 20th June 2017

By Nicky Harman, May 24, '17

I'm running a translation workshop at Baptist University in Hong Kong on Tuesday 20th June 2017. We'll be working on a short piece of text from Jia Pingwa's novel 《高兴》. The event is free but please register by Monday 5th June to receive the text. Contact: cpw@hkbu.edu.hk and put Translation Workshop in the subject line.

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Translate in the City, Summer School in London, 26th-30th June 2017

By Nicky Harman, March 27, '17

Literary Translation in Practice 26th - 30th June 2017, City University London
Are you a practising professional or a newcomer to the art of translation?
Develop your translation skills under the guidance of top professionals at a central London campus. An immersion course in literary translation into English across genres - including selections from fiction. poetry, history, essays, journalism, travel and academic writing - taught by leading literary translators and senior academics, with plenty of opportunities for networking.
• Arabic - Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
• Chinese - Nicky Harman
• French - Trista Selous and Frank Wynne
• German - Shaun Whiteside
• Italian - Howard Curtis
•Japanese-Angus Turvill
• Polish - Antonia Lloyd-Jones
• Portuguese - Daniel Hahn
• Russian - Robert Chandler
• Spanish - Peter Bush
• Swedish - Kevin Halliwell
Evening programme (attendance free): French Translation Slam with Frank Wynne and Ros Schwartz; Keynote Lecture Who Dares Wins by Professor Gabriel Josipovici; Author/translator Daniel Hahn on Translation and Children's Books and a buffet supper at local gastro pub sponsored by Europe House with a talk by Paul Kaye, Europe House Languages Officer.
Full fee: £520. Bursaries available.
Directors Amanda Hopkinson (Visiting Professor in Literary Translation. City, University of London) and French literary translator Ros Schwartz
Please note: All translation is into English and English needs to be your language of habitual use. All evening and lunchtime events are free and attendance is voluntary. The organisers reserve the right to cancel a workshop that does not recruit to the required minimum number of participants. Any applicants for these groups will be notified with a minimum six weeks' notice.

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GLLI (28) - On a cold December evening I headed to the Free Word Centre in London, to do something I had never tried before

By Helen Wang, February 28, '17

This is the last day in February, and our last post in the Global Literature in Libraries - Paper Republic series on Chinese literature. Thank you for following us! We're very grateful to all our contributors - we couldn't have managed a post a day without you! So far, all our contributors have a strong Chinese connection. But Chinese literature is not just for Chinese readers - so we asked Marinella Mezzanotte, a London-based writer (in English) and a translator (from Italian to English), who is a newbie to Chinese literature to tell us about one of our events and whether it worked for her. In December 2016 she came along to our second speed bookclub event organised by Paper Republic and the Free Word Centre in London. Here's Marinella's response:

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