Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

Yu Hua - How my books have roamed the world

Looking back on how my books have roamed the world, I see there are three factors: translation, publication and readers. I’ve noticed that in China discussions about Chinese literature in a world context focus on the importance of translation, and of course, translation is important, but if a publisher doesn’t publish, then it doesn’t matter how good a translation is, if it’s going to be locked in a drawer, old-style, or, these days, stored on a hard drive. Then there are the readers. If a publisher publishes a book, and the readers don’t pick up on it, then the publisher will lose money and won’t want to publish any more Chinese literature. So, these three factors – translation, publication and readers – are all essential.

attached to: Yu Hua


# 1.   

once favored, forever God's son...余华 is getting stale mated...

susan, September 28, 2017, 2:08p.m.

# 2.   

This piece offers insight into Yu Hua’s thinking, and I’m glad Helen has translated it. I doubt I would ever have seen it in Chinese, or bothered to read it.

I get the impression that now that he has been widely published in the West, Yu Hua is working hard, perhaps a little too hard, to sound, well, worldly. His insistence that readers everywhere, regardless of origin, ask the same questions about his fiction make me chuckle. Says he: “If we’re talking about the novel itself, then I don’t think there’s any difference between the questions asked by Chinese readers and foreign readers.”

Really? My translation of Shanghai Baby came out in 2001, and I’ve met at least 50 readers of the novel over the years. I generally chat with them about it before revealing I translated it, so that I can a more genuine reaction about the book, the issues surrounding it, and the author, Wei Hui. Almost without exception, one of the first questions Chinese men pose is: “It’s true the author had sex with a foreign lover, isn’t it?”

I have never been asked this question by a non-Chinese reader, male or female.

Bruce, September 29, 2017, 8:47p.m.

# 3.   

I'm checking out a book published in 2007 about Mao from Soviet archive by Russian/Chinese scholar that is starting to get noticed here in US ...潘佐夫, September 30, 2017, 1:35p.m.


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