GLLI (1) - What is Paper Republic?
By Eric Abrahamsen, published
The wonderful people over at the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative have designated February as China month, and have asked us to help! So for a whole month, we'll be posting on the GLLI site and on Paper Republic. First post - for the GLLI readers - what is Paper Republic? Who are we and what do we do?
Paper Republic began very simply, as a group blog run by translators of Chinese literature into English. It was 2007 and four or five of us had found each other in Beijing, and formed a sort of mutual support group/social club. Mostly we wrote about books we were reading and authors we liked, or posted translation samples.
As time passed, we gradually got to know more translators, and the group grew. At the same time realized that people outside China – students, publishers, journalists, readers – were using the site to learn about Chinese books and writers.
Since then we’ve gradually shifted the focus of the site towards providing information about Chinese literature to people in English-speaking countries. Over the years this has included many different activities: posting reviews and commentaries on books, maintaining a database of translations, editing a journal of translated literature, publishing translations online, running reader-focused public events, consulting for publishing houses interested in Chinese books, and even planning literary festivals and publishing fellowships. A broad group of translators participate, pitching in with editorial and promotion activities, from various locations around the world.
In a sense, all we wanted was to be able to translate the books we love, and to see those books published and read. Over time we realized that the single greatest obstacle to that goal was a lack of information about Chinese literature among publishers and readers abroad. Nearly all of what we do is aimed at filling that lack: by providing context and background on China’s various authors and their works, and in many cases by making those works available to read directly.
Our main projects now consist of maintaining a database of Chinese literature and translation online, producing a literary journal called Pathlight magazine, and publishing short translations to read online. Starting in 2017, we'll also be working directly with publishers in English-speaking countries to publish book-length translations.
We’re very pleased to be participating in the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative. As much as anything else we do, it’s a perfect fit for our most important goals: to help readers around the world appreciate what Chinese books have to offer.
[GLLI - Global Literature in Libraries Initiative]