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

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Nicky Harman

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Nicky Harman lives in the UK. She is co-Chair of the Translators Association (Society of Authors). She taught on the MSc in Translation at Imperial College until 2011 and now translates full-time from Chinese. She focusses on fiction, literary non-fiction, and occasionally poetry, by authors such as Chen Xiwo, Han Dong, Hong Ying, Dorothy Tse, Xinran, Yan Geling and Zhang Ling. When not translating, she spends time promoting contemporary Chinese fiction to the general English-language reader. From June 2015-June 2016, she, along with Eric Abrahamsen, Dave Haysom and Helen Wang, ran READ PAPER REPUBLIC, posting and promoting a free-to-view short story every week for a year, a project which continues to develop.

She writes blogs, give talks and lectures, and runs literary events especially with the London Free Word Centre, Southbank Centre and the Writing Chinese project (Leeds University). She also mentors new translators, teaches summer schools, and judges translation competitions: the Harvill Secker Young Translators Prize 2012, and the Writing Chinese Translation competition, run by the White Rose East Centre, University of Leeds. Also occasionally reviews China books for the UK's Tribune magazine (eg review of Sheng Keyi's Death Fugue, Giramondo, 2014) . She tweets, with Helen Wang, as the China Fiction Bookclub @cfbcuk.

Winner of a Mao Tai Cup People's Literature Chinese-English translation prize 2015. Link here: in Chinese
Winner of first prize in the 2013 China International Translation Contest, Chinese-to-English section, with Jia Pingwa’s "Backflow River", 倒流河

Forthcoming: Our Story, by Rao Pingru, Knopf Doubleday, 2018
Jia Pingwa, Happy Dreams, Amazon Crossing, 2017.

2016 publications:
Crystal Wedding, novel by Xu Xiaobin, Balestier Press, 2016 (awarded a PEN Translates grant)

2015 publications:

Paper Tiger, essays by Xu Zhiyuan, co-translated with Michelle Deeter, Head of Zeus, 2015 (awarded a PEN Translates grant).
Sissy Zhong by Yan Ge, published READ PAPER REPUBLIC.
January:Bridges, by Dorothy Tse, published READ PAPER REPUBLIC. The translation and editing of this story is discussed and illustrated here: Free Word Centre.

Also, 2015-2016, READ PAPER REPUBLIC short story series: launching, planning, translating, editing, promotion and publicity.

2014 publications:

The Book of Sins by Chen Xiwo published by FortySix, October 2014.

White Horse, novella by Yan Ge, Hope Road Publishing, October 2014.

A Tabby-cat's Tale by Han Dong, winter 2014.

The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver by Chan Koon-chung, Doubleday, April 2014.

Snow and Shadow, short story collection by Dorothy Tse, East Slope Publishing, March 2014.

A New Development Model and China’s Future, by Deng Yingtao, Routledge, March, 2014.

The Stone Ox that Grazed, short story by Sun Yisheng in Asymptote, April 2014.

A Loud Noise, poems by Han Dong, March 2014.

Other Published Translations in date order:

Urban Control and the Modernist City - essay by Leung Man-Tao, in LA Review of Books, originally appeared in Paper Republic, August 2013.

Woman Fish, by Dorothy Tse, for the Guardian newspaper, March 2013

The Shades who Periscope through Flowers to the Sky, by Sun Yisheng, for Words Without Borders, December 2012, and Dad, Your Name is Bao Tian, by Sun Yisheng, for The World of Chinese, March 2013.

Old Man Xinjiang, by Xue Mo, in China Stories for the Guardian newspaper, April 2012.

The Man with the Knife by Chen Xiwo, for Words Without Borders, November 2012

'Goodbye to Anne', in the novella collection The Road of Others, by Anni Baobei, Makedo Publishing, 2012.

Throwing out the Baby, by Xu Zechen, in Words Without Border, April 2012.

Shi Cheng: Short Stories from Urban China, Comma Press "Tales from Ten Cities" series, the two by Han Dong and Ding Liying, 2012

Flowers of Nanjing by Yan Geling, , published by Chatto and Windus, January 2012

A Phone Call from Dalian: Selected Poems by Han Dong, published by Zephyr Press, April 2012. Multiple reviews including World Literature Today and Peony Moon

The Eye of the Eagle, short story by Bai Hua, published by Hope Road Publishing

Prize-winning novel Gold Mountain Blues/Jin Shan by Zhang Ling, published by Penguin Canada

Short stories for Ou Ning's Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, 2009, and literary magazine Chutzpah, 2010 and 2011.

Message from Unknown Chinese Mothers (Author: Xinran), Chatto & Windus, 2010.

China Witness (author: Xinran), oral history Co-translator with Esther Tyldesley and Julia Lovell. Chatto & Windus , 2008.

Banished! (author: Han Dong) (《扎根》 韩东), novel. University of Hawai’i Press, 2009. Won a PEN Translation Fund Award (2006) for this work. Longlisted for Man Asian Literary Prize, 2008.

‘Long Corridor, Short Song’ (author: Zi Ren, in To Pierce the Material Screen: An Anthology of 20th Century HK Literature, to be pub. Renditions, Hong Kong 2008); (《长廊的短调》 梓人) short story.

China Along the Yellow River (author: Prof. Cao Jinqing, pub. Routledge Curzon, December 2004); (《黄河边的中国》 曹锦清) sociology of rural China.

K – The Art of Love (author: Hong Ying, pub. Marion Boyars, 2002); (K 虹影) novel.

Research publications:

Li Hao: Translation of Contemporary Chinese Literature in the English-speaking World: An Interview with Nicky Harman, The AALITRA Review, No 4 (2012)

What's that got to do with anything? Coherence and the translation of relative clauses from Chinese. In Journal of Specialised Translation (www.jostrans.org) issue 13, January 2010

Foreign Culture, Foreign Style: a Translator’s View of Modern Chinese Fiction. In Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 14(1): 13-31. (2006).

Beyond Paper Dictionaries: Mining the Web for Technical Terminology in Chinese (available from http://isg.urv.es/cttt/cttt/research.html, or on request from NH).

Visiting Fellow at the Research Centre for Translation at Chinese University Hong Kong, April 2006. Visiting Scholar, Fudan University and Beijing University, China, 2008.

Nicky Harman translated for READ PAPER REPUBLIC, week 3, 2 July 2015, and READ PAPER REPUBLIC, week 10, 20 August 2015.

 

Read Paper Republic

Original Works

Non-fiction (1)

Translations

Novellas (1)

Non-fiction (1)

Excerpts (1)

Collections (2)

Novels (9)

Poems (27)

Short stories (39)

As Editor

Posts

Bookriot: A Conversation Between Literary Translators Marian Schwartz and Nicky Harman

By Nicky Harman, September 13, '17

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Bookriot: A Conversation Between Literary Translators Marian Schwartz and Nicky Harman

Marian Schwartz is the award-winning translator of “Russian crime queen” Polina Dashkova’s first book to be translated into English, Madness Treads Lightly. She is the principal English translator of the works of Nina Berberova, and translated the New York Times bestseller The Last Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky, as well as classics by Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, Yuri Olesha, and Mikhail Lermontov.

Nicky Harman, winner of the Mao Tai Cup People’s Literature Chinese-English translation prize 2015 and the 2013 China International Translation Contest, Chinese-to-English section, and is the translator of Happy Dreams by Jia Pingwa, one of China’s most celebrated writers.

We’ve brought them together to talk about their process, communicating with their (still living) authors, difficulties in their work, and more...

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Hapaxes and Chinese authors

By Nicky Harman, September 11, '17

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Here's a nice article I came across in Atlas Obscura about authors (Maya Nandakumar gives mainly classical ones as examples) who invent their own words. Made me think of a few living Chinese authors who seem to be similarly inventive with words or expressions ... Jia Pingwa comes to mind. On the other hand, when I can't find certain mystifying expressions anywhere else online, I often wonder if it's really the author's own invention or just that certain varieties of language (local dialects) are poorly represented on the internet....

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Chinese Translation Slam, Sheffield, 16th October 2017

By Nicky Harman, September 10, '17

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In Sheffield on Monday 16th October? Come and hear Nicky Harman and Michelle Deeter debate their competing translations of an Aman Song short story, in "Forty Nine Degrees – Chinese Translation Slam." In the heat of a traffic jam, a man and woman get stuck in a taxi on their way to visit the woman’s parents. She’s a graduate with few prospects; he’s the man her parents desperately want her to marry. Will they make the train? With host Deborah Smith from Tilted Axis Press. 7:30pm. http://www.offtheshelf.org.uk/…/forty-nine-degrees-chinese…/

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Dialect, obscenities and (religious) swearing: different languages, same translation issues

By Nicky Harman, August 24, '17

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I came across this fascinating discussion on the Facebook page of the (UK) Translators Association Diaspora and with David Warriner's permission am re-posting it here.

22 August 2017, from David Warriner:

Here's a challenge for the hive mind: I'm translating a literary crime thriller set in coastal Quebec that's peppered with local flavour, mainly through religious swearing. The main challenge with the novel is going to be keeping that local flavour through the characters' speech while maintaining readability for a predominantly British audience. Most of the expressions are used so frequently, it's not really an option to keep them in French. And they're peppered so liberally throughout the characters' speech, they're not really swear words anymore. Anyway, I'm hoping to gather some ideas for religious almost-swear words along the lines of Sweet bejesus! and Christ on a bike! for tackling gems such as Saint-ciboire de câlisse! For context, think middle-aged, salt-crusted fisherman propping up the bar at the pub on the docks. Thanks in advance for any ideas."

Click "Leave a Comment" to read the responses

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Translation Workshop, Hong Kong 20th June 2017

By Nicky Harman, May 24, '17

I'm running a translation workshop at Baptist University in Hong Kong on Tuesday 20th June 2017. We'll be working on a short piece of text from Jia Pingwa's novel 《高兴》. The event is free but please register by Monday 5th June to receive the text. Contact: cpw@hkbu.edu.hk and put Translation Workshop in the subject line.

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Translate in the City, Summer School in London, 26th-30th June 2017

By Nicky Harman, March 27, '17

Literary Translation in Practice 26th - 30th June 2017, City University London
Are you a practising professional or a newcomer to the art of translation?
Develop your translation skills under the guidance of top professionals at a central London campus. An immersion course in literary translation into English across genres - including selections from fiction. poetry, history, essays, journalism, travel and academic writing - taught by leading literary translators and senior academics, with plenty of opportunities for networking.
• Arabic - Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
• Chinese - Nicky Harman
• French - Trista Selous and Frank Wynne
• German - Shaun Whiteside
• Italian - Howard Curtis
•Japanese-Angus Turvill
• Polish - Antonia Lloyd-Jones
• Portuguese - Daniel Hahn
• Russian - Robert Chandler
• Spanish - Peter Bush
• Swedish - Kevin Halliwell
Evening programme (attendance free): French Translation Slam with Frank Wynne and Ros Schwartz; Keynote Lecture Who Dares Wins by Professor Gabriel Josipovici; Author/translator Daniel Hahn on Translation and Children's Books and a buffet supper at local gastro pub sponsored by Europe House with a talk by Paul Kaye, Europe House Languages Officer.
Full fee: £520. Bursaries available.
Directors Amanda Hopkinson (Visiting Professor in Literary Translation. City, University of London) and French literary translator Ros Schwartz
Please note: All translation is into English and English needs to be your language of habitual use. All evening and lunchtime events are free and attendance is voluntary. The organisers reserve the right to cancel a workshop that does not recruit to the required minimum number of participants. Any applicants for these groups will be notified with a minimum six weeks' notice.

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GLLI (16) - Reincarnations: Chinese novels translated into English and into film

By Nicky Harman, February 16, '17

Many libraries stock both books and films – a good film can encourage people to read the book, and vice versa, and it can be very interesting to compare a book with its film, to identify the changes and to understand the reasons behind them. For this blog, I have selected five Chinese novels or novellas available in English translation, that have been turned into films for international audiences. The films are of books by Geling YAN, ZHANG Ling and JIA Pingwa, and I have been lucky enough to translate one book by each of them.

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GLLI (9) - Writing (and translating) the surreal, part two: the stories of Sun Yisheng - by Nicky Harman

By Nicky Harman, February 9, '17

Surrealist fiction, as exemplified by Franz Kafka and his Kafkaesque absurdities, feels like a very western phenomenon. But it is also a kind of story-telling that some excellent Chinese writers have taken to and given a style and a twist all of their own. Yesterday, I looked at the stories of Dorothy Tse, from Hong Kong. In my second blog on surreal story-tellers in China, I’m writing about Sun Yisheng, one of a small number of independent-minded young authors who have experimented with new styles and stories far removed from the literary realism pervasive in mainland China.

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GLLI (8) - Writing (and Translating) The Surreal, part one: Dorothy Tse - by Nicky Harman

By Nicky Harman, February 8, '17

Surrealist fiction, as exemplified by Franz Kafka and his Kafkaesque absurdities, feels like a very western phenomenon. But it is also a kind of story-telling that some excellent Chinese writers have taken to and given a style and a twist all of their own. Blair Hurley has a nice definition in her writer’s blog: ‘The most chilling or ominous surreal stories are where everything seems normal — until it gradually becomes clear that something is wrong, something is inescapable out of your character’s control.’ In a two-part blog, today and tomorrow, I’ll look at Dorothy Tse and Sun Yisheng, two contemporary Chinese writers who manage that feeling of ‘wrong-ness’, that juxtaposition of the normal and the weird, to perfection. In other ways, however, they are very different from each other and from classic western surreal writing.

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2016 translations from Chinese

By Nicky Harman, December 4, '16

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As usual, we have assembled a list of book-length translations from Chinese into English over the year. Congratulations to all authors and translators! This year’s list is longer than ever, and several books have won international prizes. Your additions, comments, corrections to this list are welcome - please leave a comment below and we’ll update the list. This is our fifth annual list; previous lists are here: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015...........

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Nominate an organisation for the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards

By Nicky Harman, December 3, '16

In 2015 and 2016, Paper Republic were honourable runners-up. Asymptote won in 2015, Words without Borders in 2016. Anyone can nominate any group/collective/organization...so to put in your nominations, see below.

The London Book Fair and UK Publishers Association are seeking entries from non-UK organisations for The Literary Translation Initiative Award at the LBF International Excellence Awards. Closing date is 15 December 2016.

Organisations that have succeeded in raising the profile of literature in translation, promoting literary translators, and encouraging new translators and translated works should apply/be nominated.

Who is eligible? Any company or organisation operating outside the UK, whose scope of achievement is outside the UK.

This is a great opportunity to follow in some illustrious footsteps, to be recognised by your peers and get some good publicity for your company. The shortlist for the awards will be unveiled in February and the winner announced at a gala awards event on Tuesday 14 March, during LBF.

To enter or learn more about the awards go to www.londonbookfair.co.uk/awards

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It's Women In Translation Month - and Paper Republic has been busy...

By Nicky Harman, August 1, '16

August is Women in Translation Month – and we're recommending some excellent women writing in Chinese.
From June 2015 to June 2016, the Read Paper Republic team published a short story/essay/poem translated from Chinese, one a week for a year. For last year’s #WITmonth we published four pieces written by women and translated by women (nos 7-10). The rest of the time, we didn’t pay too much attention to the gender of the writer. So it’s cheering to see that over the entire year, of the 53 pieces we published, 22 were written by women. They are all available online – free to view. Thank you to all our authors and translators.
Also , in May 2016, we drew up a list for The Literary Hub, of 10 CHINESE WOMEN WHOSE WRITING SHOULD BE TRANSLATED: WRITING FROM MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG, AND TAIWAN. Read it here: http://lithub.com/10-chinese-women-whose-writing-should-be-translated/

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