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

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

China Publishing Industry Newsletter: 06/23

The China Publishing Industry Newsletter is a monthly mailing on new happenings in the Chinese literary and publishing scenes. It is edited by Bruce Humes .


Why Publish First on the Mainland, Anyway?

During the first three decades of the People's Republic, publishing outside the mainland without prior permission—particularly in Taiwan—was considered politically incorrect and could even be treated as a punishable crime. But during the more liberal 1980s and up until fairly recently, the main obstacle to publication overseas has been a lack of interest among global publishers.

But as of 2011, novelists with a bit of name recognition abroad are gradually realizing that sometimes it actually makes sense to publish first outside mainland China.

Shen Haobo: Digital Publishing in China

Shen Haobo (沈浩波), CEO of private publishing company Xiron, wrote an article in May about the challenges facing China's digital publishing industry. Shen was a key member of a publishing industry delegation that met with Baidu , the Chinese web portal, to protest alleged copyright violations. Baidu's "Baidu Wenku" ( 百 度文库 ) is an online repository of published texts. Below, we translate Shen Haobo's original article.

Chinese to English translation projects currently underway

The following are lists of Chinese to English literary translation projects that have either been recently published, are currently being translated, or are under contract. If you have additions, corrections or queries that you'd like to make regarding these lists, please email info@paper-republic.org .

News Briefs

Industry News

Good news for Zhang Ling, her Gold Mountain Blues (金山) and translator Nicky Harman. “For more than a year, Ling Zhang has faced public accusations that her work “plagiarizes” other works about the Chinese immigrant experience in Canada,” says a just-released official statement from Penguin on its site, “including The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy and Disappearing Moon Café by Sky Lee. Although Penguin had no reason to believe these accusations, they have been examined in detail and proven false. Gold Mountain Blues does not infringe on any other work, and the accusations of” plagiarism” are baseless and unwarranted. Gold Mountain Blues shares only a few general plot similarities with the other works, and those similarities reflect common events and experiences in the Chinese immigrant community.” Gold Mountain Blues will be published simultaneously by Penguin Canada and Atlantic Books in the UK.

Chinese Writing in Translation

Northern Girls by Sheng Keyi ( 《北妹》 ,盛可以) has been purchased for publication by Penguin and will be translated into English by Shelly Bryant . “It’s an evocative telling of the first generation of migrant workers who traveled from their villages to the cities in search of work in the 1980s,” explains Jo Lusby, head of Penguin China. “There has been a small amount of non-fiction publishing in English on this subject, such as Leslie Chang's excellent Factory Girls , but we feel there’s huge appeal to hearing these stories from the Chinese perspective.”

Foreign Books Published in China

To coincide with Oprah Winfrey’s “retirement” after 25 years as talk show host, Jiangsu People’s Publishing House has launched the Chinese edition of Oprah: A Biography by Kitty Kelly ( 奥普拉传 ), translated by Qian Feng (钱峰).

Movie Adaptations

Director Zhang Yimou will end shooting Heroes of Nanjing , the cinematic adaptation of Yan Geling’s novella (AKA /The 13 Women of Nanjing/《金陵十三钗》, 严歌苓, now being translated for Harvill Secker by Nicky Harman) this month, and it’s scheduled to be showing in China theaters by year-end. The movie tells the tragedy of 13 Chinese prostitutes who hid in an American-owned church during the Nanjing Massacre of 1937 and volunteered to stand in for university students who were conscripted as sex slaves for the invading Japanese soldiers, writes Xinji Letu in Beijing Today . Christian Bale stars as the American priest. Overseas rights to Yan Geling’s novella are represented by Marysia Juszczakiewicz at Peony Literary Agency , and buyers so far include Random House (UK and Germany), Flammarion (France), Santanilla (Spain), Rizolli (Italy) and a publishing house in Vietnam.

Literary Awards

The long list for China’s most prestigious award in publishing, the Mao Dun Literary Prize , has been announced by organizer Chinese Writers Association. The first was awarded back in 1982. Here’s the full list in Chinese . Some 180 works will be assessed by 60-plus judges, and between 3 and 5 winners will be announced in 4Q 2011. Foreign publishers and agents should keep their eyes peeled, because several past winning works have gone on to be purchased or published in the West, including Chen Zhongshi’s White Deer Plain (白鹿原) (being translated into French by Le Seuil), Alai’s Red Poppies (尘埃落定), The Right Bank of the Argun by Chi Zijian (额尔古纳河右岸) purchased by Harvill Secker in the UK, and Mai Jia’s Plot (暗算) now represented by The Grayhawk Agency . Proceedings are always controversial with frequent accusations of vote rigging, and this year a lot of sound and light was generated by the decision to permit nominations of online literary works—providing they were subsequently printed in hard copy. Possibly another first is the inclusion of “vulgar” topics like “workplace literature,” represented by Office Spy Game/(办公室风声) and /A Civil Servant’s Notes (公务员笔记), the latter now under translation by Eric Abrahamsen for Penguin. Naturally, several works by famous authors figure on the list, such as Boat to Redemption by Su Tong, Frog by Mo Yan , Empty Mountain by ethnic Tibetan writer Alai, and Massage (推拿) by the winner of the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize, Bi Feiyu . In keeping with the mantra that the People’s Republic consists of (precisely) 56 ethnicities, a new batch of works highlighting non-Han culture and history also figure on the list: three focusing on things Tibetan, Sky Burial (天葬), Wolves of Kekexili (可可西里狼) and Canticle to the Land (大地雅歌); one on ancient Sichuan, The Last Chant of the Shaman (最后的巫歌); and a novel in a Mongolian setting, Unofficial Chronicles of the Grasslands (草原外史).

Upcoming Events

Hong Kong Book Fair (July 20-26)

Plenty of literary happenings during July 20-25 at the Hong Kong Book Fair . For a full list, see All Events . Some of the more interesting ones to be held in English:

New Books

Chinese 'Guanxi'

Title : Chinese ‘Guanxi’ ( 中国式关系 )
Published : May 2011
Language : Chinese
Author : Fu Shi (浮石)
Publisher : Gold Wall Press (金城出版社)
Contact : Li Jing (黎靖, lijingsjs@163.com )

Critics have dubbed Fu Shi’s new book a “textbook for the study of guanxi .” Apparently it’s not just foreign businesspeople who want to get a handle on this phenomenon, often translated as “connections” or “networking”—even the Chinese seek guidance.

The Great Shaman's Golden Ram Chariot

Title : The Great Shaman’s Golden Ram Chariot ( 大萨满之金羊车 )
Published : February 2011
Language : Chinese
Author : Guo Xuebo (郭雪波)
Publisher : New Star Publishing (新星出版社)
Contact : Guo Xuebo (郭雪波, gxuebo@yahoo.com.cn )

Penned by an ethnic Mongolian writer with almost two decades of research in shamanism, Golden Ram Chariot is described as a novel “about a quest for an encyclopaedic knowledge of shaman culture.” It relates the mishaps and discoveries of a scholar as he ventures into the Khorchin Grasslands of Inner Mongolia, and details the shamanistic tales and rites he encounters.

That Autumn, That City

Title : That Autumn, That City ( 她的城 )
Published : April 2011
Language : Chinese
Author : Chi Li (池莉)
Publisher : Jiangsu Literature & Art Publishing (江苏文艺出版社)
Contact : Wang Yuyao (王娱瑶, wangyy0303@gmail.com )

After a four-year hiatus from publishing, renowned Hubei female novelist Chi Li has released a new collection of short stories. Admittedly inspired by the author’s own divorce, the critically acclaimed Her City revolves around the relationships between three women living in Hubei’s metropolis, Wuhan. While their social and economic backgrounds differ radically, they are able to share the pains inflicted on them by their unhappy marriage, and find solace in each other’s company and sympathy.

Haidilao Hot-Pot

Title : Haidilao Hot-Pot ( 海底捞你学不会 )
Published : April 2011
Language : Chinese
Author : Huang Tieying (黄铁鹰)
Publisher : Citic Press (中信出版社)
Contact : Citic Press ( yaya99yangyan@hotmail.com )

Things are hotting up in China’s hot pot restaurant sector, with Yum Brands (owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), recently stating that it intends to “take its 27% stake in hot-pot chain Little Sheep Group (小肥羊火锅) to full ownership .”

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