By Bruce Humes, May 14, '14
“ Dreams are so good. Why do we have to make them a reality? ”
What’s a young Tibetan stud to do for a living nowadays in a tourist hotspot like Lhasa? And what happens when his childhood dream—to hang out in the capital of a country called China—comes true?
In the just-published The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver, author Chan Koonchung takes us on a rocky road from Lhasa to Beijing. Along the way he paints disturbing vignettes. An apartheid-in-the-making. The eerie death wish of a would-be self-immolator. The Kafkaesque “black jails” where provincial petitioners who dare air their grievances to the Beijing Mandarins are brutalized, then sent home.
If they’re lucky, that is.
By Bruce Humes, March 14, '14
As the number of Chinese novels translated into English annually rises into the teens, here's a figure to contemplate:
" . . . 781 Japanese novels were translated and published in South Korea in 2012," according to Takayuki Iwasaki in Japan's Literati Impervious to Politics.
By Bruce Humes, October 11, '13
On October 31, Professor Tai Zaixi will speak on (Self) Censorship and the Translator-Author Relationship: The Case of Full Translations, Partial Translations, and Non-translations in the Chinese Context at HK Baptist U's Centre for Translation.
By Bruce Humes, October 2, '13
In Nobel Win, Ho Ai Li of Singapore’s Straits Times notes that Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize—regardless of how his own writing is perceived abroad—is helping to spark interest in translated Chinese fiction. Since most of us won’t be able to get beyond the pay wall, I’ve selected three choice quotes from the article below. But pls resist the temptation to re-tweet Eric’s words on your Weibo account, as we’d hate to see his visa renewal application denied next time round . . .
By Bruce Humes, September 28, '13
To help the nation recover the revolutionary spirit, a new – lightly edited for political correctness, or annotated perhaps? – version of Mao's Little Red Book will reportedly hit the shelves soon (Revamp):
The new version is due for release in November, just before the 120th anniversary of Mao's birth. Its chief editor, Chen Yu – a senior colonel at the Academy of Military Science – describes it as a voluntary initiative. "We just want to edit the book, as other scholars work on the Analects of Confucius… We don't have a complicated political purpose," said Chen.
Sounds innocent enough . . .
By Bruce Humes, March 21, '13
Murakami Haruki’s latest novel, his first major release since the 1Q84 trilogy in April 2010, goes on sale in Japan April 12. I haven’t found any hint of its name in English, but according to a report by Shi Chenlu at Chinanews.com (村上春树新长篇) , its (temporary) Chinese title is <没有色彩的多崎造和他的巡礼之年>.
Intriguingly, now the hunt is on for the Chinese translator. You may recall that the monopoly of long-time Murakami translator Lin Shaohua (林少华) ended abruptly when the contract for rendering What I Talk about When I Talk about Running was handed over to Shi Xiaowei (当我谈跑步时我谈些什么，施小炜译).
By Bruce Humes, December 8, '12
It's true that the Western media, and not a few China hands, would like nothing better than for Mo Yan to have delivered a Nobel acceptance speech that criticizes China's censorship practices.
One could argue that this is a selfish if not downright childish desire.
His speech is now up in Chinese (讲故事的人), so we know that his speech contained nothing of the sort. He basically said that:
*** He perceives himself as a "storyteller" who was deeply inspired by the lives of those around him as he grew up in a small Shandong town
*** Recent criticisms leveled at him in fact have nothing to do with Mo Yan the writer
*** A writer should be judged by what he writes, not what he says -- or doesn't say -- about what he writes