Bruce Humes 徐穆实

worldcat | academia |


Native English speaker who has hosted his own blog since 2009.

He specializes in two niches: translating Chinese fiction by non-Han authors into English, and translating books about ancient Silk Road culture and history. He also offers consulting services to authors, translators and literary agents keen to market foreign language rights to publishers.

As of 2021, he has been commissioned to bring the autobiography of the tenacious female archaeologist Fan Jinshi -- who lived and worked in the desert for half a century in order to preserve and document the Buddhist-themed Mogao Caves of Dunhuang -- to an English-speaking readership. Entitled 我心归处在敦煌, its working title in English is Daughter of Dunhuang.

Newly created posts include translated excerpts from Guo Xuebo's novel Moŋgoliya and Alat Asem's novel Confessions of a Jade Lord (时间悄悄的嘴脸), and a bilingual "mini-database" of African literature in Chinese translation 非洲文学中文译本.

Published book-length, Chinese-to-English translations: The Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸,迟子建著), by Chi Zijian; Shanghai Baby (上海宝贝,卫慧著), by Wei Hui; Chinese Dress & Adornment through the Ages (中国历代服饰艺术,高春明著) by Gao Chunming; and three co-translations: Confessions of a Jade Lord (时间悄悄的嘴脸); The Most Beautiful Chinese Classical Paintings (最美的中国古典绘画); and The China Tea Book (中国茶书).


Read Now: Around the Web

The Mongol Would-be Self-immolator by Guo Xuebo The Asia-Pacific Journal
Urho (excerpt) by Hong Ke Ethnic ChinaLit
The Embassy’s China Bride by Jiu Dan Ethnic ChinaLit

Book Publications

The Last Quarter of the Moon cover

The Last Quarter of the Moon

Chi Zijian

April 03, 2012

All Translations

Short story (4)

Novel (2)

Excerpt (5)

The Paper Republic database exists for reference purposes only. We are not the publisher of these works, are not responsible for their contents, and cannot provide digital or paper copies.


Chinese Literary Magazine Coming in Arabic

By Bruce Humes, September 2, '16

Ahramonline reports:

An Arabic edition of the magazine Chinese Literature has been launched during the Beijing International Book Fair and will be distributed for free starting October as a periodical magazine issued every three months in partnership with the Egyptian cultural newspaper Al-Kahera.

The magazine, which is already published in 10 languages and comprises fiction, poetry and art, will be published under the name Beacons of the Silk Road, and will introduce contemporary Chinese literature to Arabic readers.

I'm wondering: Is this the newest edition of Pathlight?


Paper Republic vs. Kubin, the Literaturkritiker Lovers of Chinese Lit Love to Diss

By Bruce Humes, August 10, '16

I'm in shock! For one, the official Beijing Int'l Book Fair has already uploaded at least a partial list of events open to the public, albeit in Chinese only. In the past, that generally happened on the first day of the fair, or later.

But even more eye-popping is the list of speakers for this (no doubt) bilingual forum on translation:





陈安娜瑞典高产翻译家)(Anna Chen)

顾彬著名汉学家,翻译家,作家)(Wolfgang Kubin)

埃里克·亚布拉罕森中英文学译者、Paper Republic 创始人)(Eric Abrahamsen)

报名链接: (never mind that this link doesn't work . . .)

For a classic Kubin interview re: his views on contemporary Chinese lit, see this one in English published just two days ago: No innovative culture without contact


Ubiquitous 50 Cent Gang (五毛党): Appearances in Contemporary Chinese Fiction?

By Bruce Humes, May 21, '16

One out of 178 social media posts in China's cybersphere are authored and posted by a government employee — totaling 488 million annual posts — according to a new report written by professors at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of California.

It is based partly on analysis of leaked e-mails (43,000!) from an Internet Propaganda Office in Jiangxi. It appears that most are intended to distract the public from bad news. You can read about the report here and here, or download the 34-page PDF here.

So much for quantitative research. I'm more interested in how the 50c Party (五毛党) plays out in contemporary Chinese fiction. I recall the way author Stephen Koonchung recreated one of China's first real social-media-driven “mass incidents” (trucks carrying hundreds of dogs to slaughter in Beijing were blocked by activists thanks to real-time messaging) in his Kafkaesque Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver. Such scenes in a novel can be quite effective in sensitizing readers to the phenomenon, perhaps more than any single statistics-studded report.

My questions:

  1. Is it permissible to write in detail about such government-sponsored propaganda in short stories, novellas or novels?
  2. How are Chinese fiction writers portraying the impact of the 50c Gang on conversation in shaping public opinion?
  3. Titles of works of Chinese fiction in which 50c Gang activities or members figure prominently?


Author Yan Lianke: The Reign of "温暖的文学"

By Bruce Humes, May 2, '16

Speaking recently at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Chinese author Yan Lianke (閻連科) spoke about the ominous rise of a "warm and fuzzy" kind of Chinese literature (温暖的文学) that the government, readers and critics all find acceptable. Here is an excerpt from notes taken at the talk (thus they may not be his exact words) which appear in an article 中國文學的唱衰者 at the newly launched (and interesting) Chinese-language web site,



China's Thinkingdom Media Invests in Editions Philippe Picquier

By Bruce Humes, May 1, '16

According to a 2016-04-28 report (战略投资) in The Paper (澎湃讯), Thinkingdom Media Group Ltd (新经典文化) has made a “strategic investment” in France’s Editions Philippe Picquier. The report does not specify the $ amount or portion of the French publisher that is now in Chinese hands. Picquier is already a major French-language publisher of Chinese fiction writing including titles by Yu Hua, Wang Anyi, Alai, Su Tong, Han Shaogong, Bi feiyu, Chi Zijian, Ge Fei, Liang Hong and Li Er.

Some 15,000 copies of Wang Anyi’s 《长恨歌》(Le Chant des regrets éternels) have sold in French, according to the news item. Picquier's first venture into the world of translated Chinese popular fiction publishing was apparently Wei Hui's naughty Shanghai Baby, back in the early 2000s.

It will be interesting to see if and how Thinkingdom uses Picquier as a platform for the campaign to bring more contemporary Chinese literature in translation to the Francophone world.


"White Deer Plain" Author Chen Zhongshi Dies

By Bruce Humes, April 30, '16

Chen Zhongshi, Shaanxi-based author of the 20th-century classic, White Deer Plain (白鹿原, 陈忠实著), has died.

Three thoughts:

1) White Deer Plain has been published in French, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. Anyone working on the English, and if not, why not?

2) The novel was published in 1993. Any insights into why he wrote relatively little thereafter?

3) How to render the first line of White Deer Plain --- especially ---:



New Ban on Homosexuality: Will it Extend to Published Chinese Fiction?

By Bruce Humes, March 5, '16

"Depictions of homosexuality, extramarital affairs, underage love and the supernatural are no longer allowed in television dramas under new regulations in mainland China," according to a report at Hong Kong Free Press (New Rules).

These rules are apparently already coming into affect. According to WSJ's China RealTime, " 'Heroin' (also known as “Addiction” in Chinese), a 15-episode Web drama about romance among teenage boys, was earlier this week taken down from major Chinese video streaming sites." This suggests that the ban applies not just to TV.

Will this ban on the portrayal of homosexuality, and "other abnormal sexual relationships and behavior," be extended to published writing as our man on the ground in Nanhai, XJP, exerts his Victorian values? Hard to say. For now, it would be neat to have a list of Chinese fiction --- particularly translated fiction or Chinese fiction you'd like to see translated --- touching on LGBT romance, lifestyles and issues. Please add to the list via the comments section.


2016 Update: Guide to China’s Contemporary Ethnic-themed Literature in Translation

By Bruce Humes, February 4, '16

I've just updated my guide.

This 民族题材文学 category includes writing — regardless of the author’s ethnicity — in which non-Han culture, motifs or characters play an important role. But the great majority of the works listed were penned by a member of one of China’s minority ethnic groups. There are entries for fiction (and a bit of poetry) touching on the Bai, Evenki, Hui, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Manchu, Miao, Mongolian, Lahu, Lisu, Oirat, Seediq, Tibetan, Uyghur, Xiongnu and Yi peoples. Taiwan fiction is included, and the Tibetan section now features 25 entries. Unless noted, the original is in Chinese and the translation is in English. But I’ve also included a handful of renditions into French, Spanish and Japanese.


Translating the President-elect

By Bruce Humes, January 24, '16

Tsai Ing-wen’s post-election response on her Facebook page to a barrage of postings criticizing her stand in favor of Taiwan’s independence:


Various media have translated as follows:

The greatness of this country lies in that everyone has the right to be oneself.

The greatness of this country lies in how every single person can exercise their rights.

How would you render?


China's Literary Police to Feng Tang: Don't Touch Our Tagore!

By Bruce Humes, December 25, '15

Once again, we are reminded that poetry matters in China. And, equally interesting, that translation of poetry matters.

Feng Tang, author of Beijing, Beijing (北京北京 冯唐著), has apparently crossed the lines of decency with his new translation of verse by China's favorite foreign poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Just in case the world didn't know about this travesty, the Party's English mouthpiece, China Daily, has published an essay, Lust in Translation, about the “testosterone-driven” translator's very personal take on the work of this Bengali poet.


New China's "Family Planning" : Recommended Fiction Reading

By Bruce Humes, November 12, '15

As Sheng Keyi writes in today's New York Times (Still No Dignity):

The Chinese Communist Party leadership announced on Oct. 29 the end of the one-child policy, to be replaced with a law that allows married couples to have two children. But dropping the one-child policy will not end the government’s control of women’s bodies. We still will not have the final say when it comes to our reproductive rights.

Clearly, the battle for those rights won't be won in a day.

In the meantime, let's make a list of Chinese fiction (both untranslated and translated) that touches on various aspects of China's Big Brother Family Planning Program over the decades. Mo Yan's Frog should be on the list, but that's an easy one. I wonder: Are there any novels or short fictional pieces out there about what it's like to live in China if you were a child born sans production permit, and therefore can't get a national ID?


1982-2015 Mao Dun Prize: 43 Winners — But which Ones Truly Benefited Sales-wise?

By Bruce Humes, September 18, '15

Over the last few years, the veil has been partially lifted on what has been China’s long-running and most coveted literary set of awards for the novel, the Mao Dun Literature Prize, which is awarded once every four years. You can bone up on the scandals behind this and other awards here if you like.

The Beijing Daily has just published an interesting article (茅奖销售) which details “before and after” sales figures, queries authors on how winning the award has affected their work, and concludes with a brief overview of 1982-2015 winning titles by literary critic Bai Ye (白烨).

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Apartheid online at Beijing’s Int’l Book Fair?

By Bruce Humes, August 19, '15

Nice to see that the BIBF (Aug 26-29) has fairly attractive Chinese and English sections to its new-look web site, both of which – congrats! – are already up and functioning here.

But as I glanced through it, it reminded me of my first trip to the New China in 1981. When my father and I went for breakfast with our tour group at Shanghai’s Old Jinjiang Hotel, we were immediately forced to choose: Chinese cuisine at this table, Western at the other. Naturally, I dragged him along with me to the Chinese table — after all, it was my first meal in China! But when I tried to order a cup of coffee for my father, the waiter snapped: “If you want coffee, sit at the Western table!”

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The Dao of China Publishing

By Bruce Humes, August 14, '15

I have noticed that many of the promising new books about China's ethnic minorities -- their history, culture, and even award-winning short stories and novels by ethnic authors -- to which I call attention in my blog are just about impossible to track down and purchase. They are publicized in a press release duly carried word-for-word on certain politically correct web sites, and then fall off the radar.

A Manchu grad student in Beijing explained it to me thus:


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