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

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

David Haysom


Dave Haysom is a literary translator and editor who has been living in Beijing since 2007. He first started publishing translations online at spittingdog.net in 2012. In 2014 he became joint managing editor of Pathlight, a quarterly journal of Chinese literature in translation, and in 2015 he helped launch “Read Paper Republic”, a year-long initiative to publish one translation online every week. He has also written articles and essays on contemporary Chinese literature for publications such as Words Without Borders and China Dialogue.


Read Paper Republic

Original Works

Essays (2)


Excerpts (1)

Novellas (2)

Essays (2)

Short stories (12)


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3rd EU-China Literary Festival: Guangzhou and Shenzhen

By David Haysom, November 18, '18

For anyone in Guangzhou or Shenzhen over the coming week, don't miss the 3rd EU-China International Literary Festival! We have leading European authors from Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland, Sweden, and the UK, plus 40 great Chinese writers. An array of wonderful discussions lined up in a week jam-packed with literary events. Check out the full programme here: http://eu-china.literaryfestival.eu

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Read Paper Republic: China Dispatches

By David Haysom, October 1, '18


We are delighted to announce a new series from Read Paper Republic: China Dispatches. Over the next month we will be publishing a selection of non-fiction pieces chosen from OWMagazine (单读). This will be a three-way collaboration between Paper Republic, OWMagazine, and the LARB China Channel. Each of the stories will be appearing first on the China Channel, then published here on Paper Republic one week later. We’re very excited about our initial run, which includes some of our favourite writers as well as some new voices, and we’re sure you’re going to enjoy these dispatches from different corners of China.

The first installment – “Three Sketches of Peter Hessler” by Wu Qi, translated by Luisetta Mudie – is available to read on the China Channel now!

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2017: Best Books in Chinese

By David Haysom, December 30, '17

Which new works of sci-fi were worth reading this year? Whose new novel forged a new way of representing dialect in fiction? Why are Chinese authors reading the critic James Wood? What did the daily life of a Communist guerrilla in 1980s Malaysia look like? Find out in our list of new books released in Chinese in 2017, as recommended by Paper Republic and friends!

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2017: Best Books in Chinese

By David Haysom, December 30, '17

Which works of sci fi were worth reading this year? Whose fiction has forged a new way of representing dialect in literature? Why are Chinese authors reading the critic James Wood? And what was life like for Communist guerrillas in the jungles of 1980s Malaysia? Find out in our list of the best books published in Chinese in 2017, as chosen by Paper Republic and friends!


Read Paper Republic: Bare Branches

By David Haysom, November 5, '17

11.11: November 11th, originally a day for singletons in China to either bemoan or celebrate their unattached status, but increasingly an excuse for unbridled consumerism under the auspices of the various online shopping behemoths. At Paper Republic we’re going to be stripping back the commercial self-indulgence and marking the occasion with a new run of four short stories about love, longing, and loneliness. We’re very happy to have Michelle Deeter as our managing editor for the series, which is entitled “Bare Branches” (a literal translation of the Chinese name for the occasion, 光棍节); starting this week, you can look forward to seeing a new story appearing on the site every Thursday for the next month!

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GLLI (3) Chinese Literature FAQ

By David Haysom, February 3, '17

What is this thing you call “Chinese Literature”?
“Chinese literature” is often a conveniently nebulous term that means different things to different people. It can refer to China as a geographical or political entity – except not everyone agrees on what that is. Or it can be a linguistic description, referring to what is sometimes called the “Sinosphere” – except there’s no undisputed definition of what exactly constitutes a language. Depending on where you draw your line, “Chinese literature” may or may not encompass: mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, diaspora authors writing in Chinese, diaspora authors writing in English, and ethnic minority authors writing in completely different languages (such as Tibetan, Mongolian, or Manchu). Many of them would reject the label of “Chinese literature”, and its capacity to cause offence (and incite semantic spats) is far greater than its descriptive utility. And yet, for the sake of convenience, we do need to have some kind of term to refer to this thing we are all interested in, and “Chinese literature” is the best we currently have.


GLLI (2) - Read Paper Republic: An Introduction

By David Haysom, February 2, '17

“I like the idea that you could have actual readable pieces hanging off the database, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. So as you go browsing, you also find things to read.”
“This is something I’m really keen on!”
“A catchy title would help, e.g. #TranslationThursday Weekly Story. (Sorry, that's not very catchy.)”
“We don't necessarily need a catchy name of our own – I think just calling it something like "Paper Republic's Translation of the Week" would work fine.”
“I've been using ‘read’ as a name for things in the backend of the site, and wonder if ‘Read Paper Republic’ might be an okay series title.”
“I like it!”

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Call for Submissions: Megacity Fictions

By David Haysom, November 10, '16


Megacity Fictions aims to investigate how writers and artists are responding to vast cityscapes which mutate and spread at unparalleled rates, often displaying extremes of global wealth and poverty; vertical towers built on new economic wealth surrounded by sprawls of immigrant slums. Submissions in creative non-fiction, fiction, ficto-critical writing and photography, exploring particular megacities, or the concept of massive urban hubs in general, are all invited.

If you're interested in submitting work or volunteering your services as a translator then you can get in touch by email (megacityfictions@gmail.com), or via the form at the Megacity Fictions page here.

Metropolises such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are all fairly well represented in fiction... but what about the likes of Wuhan and Tianjin? Any ideas?


Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize: The Reaction from Writers in China

By David Haysom, October 21, '16

Yes, China also noticed that Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

It is akin to Cui Jian [崔健] receiving the prize, argues Zhang Yiwu [张颐武], a professor at Peking University. “This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature was a complete surprise, an unexpectedly novel approach – a Black Swan, even. Yes, Bob Dylan has been a global megastar of music since the 1960s, and he influenced the new social movements of the era. But it’s a bold move for a prize that has been a staid presence in the literary landscape for so many years. It’s certainly innovative. In the age of the internet, anything’s possible.”
Chen Xiaoming [陈晓明], another literary critic, has also remarked on the unexpectedness of the award. “Perhaps this is something to do with the personal tastes of the committee,” he suggests, “a moment of nostalgia. Or perhaps reading his biography reminded them of their own youths, like some kind of performance art. Or another possibility is that this is their way of encouraging people to pay less attention to the prize, to stop treating it with such reverance. You’re all expected us to give it to Adonis, well okay then, we’ll give it to Bob Dylan.”
—translated from 诺贝尔文学奖颁给音乐人 为什么是鲍勃·迪伦

Here are a selection of responses from Chinese authors (collected from Weixin and Weibo by the Paper Republic team):


Coming soon – Read Paper Republic: Afterlives

By David Haysom, October 20, '16


Following a brief period of dormancy, Read Paper Republic will be reanimated next Thursday (just in time for Halloween!) with a limited run of six new tales in which death is merely the beginning of the story. Every week, one of these stories – populated with ghosts, memories, and otherworldly reincarnations – will be appearing right here, and they will be completely free to read.

We also have some upcoming events happening in London which we'll be announcing soon – watch this space...

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