Cindy M. Carter 辛迪

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Cindy M. Carter is a Beijing-based American translator of Chinese fiction and film. Since coming to China in 1996, she has translated over 50 award-winning independent Chinese films and documentaries, dozens of scripts, short stories, essays and poems and 2 novels. She is currently the in-house translator and editor at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in 798 Art District, Beijing.


Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke. 2011. Constable and Robinson (UK) / Text Publishing (Australia) / Grove Press (US). 352 pages. Prose-poetic tale of blood-selling, AIDS, profiteering and revenge set in rural Henan. (Long-listed for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize.)

"But the sickness had only just begun. [...] The real explosion wouldn't come until next year, or the year after next. That's when people would start dying like sparrows, or moths, or ants. Right now they were dying like dogs, and everyone knows that in this world, people care a lot more about dogs than they do about sparrows, moths or ants."

Village of Stone by Guo Xiaolu. 2004. Chatto & Windus, U.K. 181 pages. Fictional memoir of a young woman coming to terms with repressed memories of her childhood in a Chinese fishing village. (Short-listed for the 2005 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize; Long-listed for the 2005 Dublin IMPAC Prize.)

"The Village of Stone was my entire world, my fortress without windows, a place where they had dug my grave almost as soon as I was born."

"Two people together never add up to anything more than one person added to another. That we continue to add ourselves up in this way is the reason human beings will always be lonely."

Selected Documentaries

Karamay by director Xu Xin. 2009. Mandarin with English subtitles. 371 mins. In 1994, over 450 people - mainly schoolchildren and their teachers - were killed or injured when a fire broke out in a theatre in Karamay city, Xinjiang province (see Wiki entry). The survivors, who had been attending a song-and-dance performance to entertain visiting cadres, reported that students were instructed to remain in their seats so that VIPS and party cadres could exit first. Through rare video footage and first-person interviews with families and survivors, Xu Xin documents how the story was portrayed in the official media, the public anger that erupted after the fire and the community's 15-year quest for justice.

WE: Creatures of Politics, Voices of Conscience by director Huang Wenhai. 2008. Mandarin with English subtitles. 102 mins. In the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, several generations of activists debate the future of political reform and human rights in China. (Special Jury Prize, Venice Film Festival, 2008; Screened at One World Human Rights Festival, 2009.)

Crime and Punishment by director Zhao Liang. 2007. Mandarin and dialect with English subtitles. 123 mins. Young military police patrolling the border between China and North Korea deal with career frustration and local disputes ranging from petty theft to illegal logging to false dead-body reports. (Best Documentary, Nantes Festival des Trois Continents, 2007; Best Director, One World Int'l Human Rights Film Festival, 2007.)

Fairytale, by producer Ai Weiwei. 2007. English, German, Mandarin and dialect with English subtitles. 9 hours. With 16 directors and a crew of 8 translators, Fairytale offers a behind-the-scenes look at artist Ai Weiwei's ambitious project to bring 1001 Chinese people from various walks of life to the 2007 Kassel Documenta in Germany. Subjects include: a policeman-turned-blogger who was refused a passport for his blog posts critical of Chinese law enforcement, a pair of writers whose passion for poetry and fondness for drink goes hand in hand, and a group of farmers whose trip to Kassel will be the first time they've left their village, much less their country.

Fengming: A Chinese Memoir (alt title: Chronicle of a Chinese Woman) by director Wang Bing. 2007. Mandarin with English subtitles. 184 mins. He Fengming speaks directly to the camera of her experiences as a revolutionary, journalist, accused rightist, prison camp inmate and chronicler of more than a half-century of Chinese history. (Grand Prize, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2007; Young Critics Award, Cinema Digital Seoul, 2007.)

Mona Lisa by director Li Ying. 2005. Mandarin with English subtitles. 110 mins. 20 years after being kidnapped as a child-bride, a young woman named Xiuxiu manages to locate her birth parents and lands her kidnappers - the couple who raised her - in prison. Motivated by a sense of responsibility to her adoptive siblings, Xiuxiu tries to get her adoptive mother released on furlough.

Before the Flood by directors Yan Yu and Li Yifan. 2004. Sichuan dialect with English subtitles. 143 mins. As the flood waters of the Three Gorges Dam Project rise, dislocated residents of the ancient town of Fengjie clash with local cadres and try to find new lodgings. (Grand Prize, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, 2005; Best Documentary Feature, Lisbon Int'l Documentary Film Festival, 2005; Winner, International Competition, 2005 Cinéma du Réel Film Festival; Wolfgang Staudte Prize, Berlin Film Festival, 2005; Humanitarian Prize, Hong Kong Film Festival, 2005.)

West of Tracks by director Wang Bing. 2003. Mandarin and Shenyang dialect with English subtitles. 545 mins. Sweeping three-part documentary (I: Rust, II: Remnants, III: Rails) depicts the lives of laid-off factory workers and their children in Shenyang, China's rust belt. (Best Documentary Feature, Mexico City Film Festival, 2005; Grand Prix, Marseille Festival of Documentary Film, 2003; Grand Prize, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, 2003; Golden Montgolfier Award, Nantes Festival des Trois Continents, 2003; European DVD release: MK2 films.)

Paper Airplane by director Zhao Liang. 2001. Mandarin with English subtitles. 89 mins. Gritty documentary about heroin addiction and the Beijing underground music scene. A film that made the subject matter less taboo - and inspired numerous feature-film knockoffs - it's still the only one that gets the story right. (Merit Prize, Taiwan International Documentary Festival, 2002.)

Selected Feature Films

Fujian Blue, (See also: Wiki entry) by director Robin Weng (Weng Shouming). 2007. Fujian dialect with English subtitles. 87 mins. For a group of Fujian teens, filming trysts and black-mailing wealthy "remittance widows" whose husbands are working abroad is a lucrative pastime...until they fall afoul of local mafia, snakeheads trafficking in human cargo. (Dragons and Tigers Prize, Vancouver Int’l Film Festival, 2007; Pusan Int’l Film Festival/PIFF post-production grant, 2007.)

In Love We Trust by director Wang Xiaoshuai. 2007. Mandarin with English subtitles. 115 mins. When their daughter is diagnosed with leukemia, a long-divorced couple deceive their new spouses and reunite to conceive a baby whose bone marrow may save their child's life. (Special Mention Jury Prize and Silver Bear Prize for Outstanding Screenplay, 2007 Berlin Film Festival. Nominated for Golden Bear.)

Tales of Rain and Magic by director Sun Xiaoru. 2006. Mandarin with English subtitles. 95 mins. This coming-of-age tale forms the first part of Sun's Trilogy of Women. (Screened at Rotterdam Int’l Film Festival, 2007.)

Shanghai Dreams (Qing Hong) by director Wang Xiaoshuai. 2005. Mandarin with English subtitles. 123 mins. It is 1983, and Chinese reform and opening is in full swing. The old generation of sent-down factory workers want to return to their urban hometowns, but their teenaged children - born and raised in the hinterlands - are reluctant to leave behind the only lives they've known. (Prix du Jury, Cannes Film Festival 2005. Nominated for Palm d'Or.)

Dream of the Bridal Chamber, by director Guo Baochang. 2005. Mandarin with English subtitles. 120 mins. Haunting melodies and lush cinematography inform this classic Peking Opera set to film.

Season of the Horse by director Ning Cai. 2004. Mongolian with English subtitles. 105 mins. In this elegy to a disappearing culture, a Mongolian herder loses his livelihood, sees his grazing lands fenced off and sells his horse to pay for his son's education. (NETPAC award and others; see here for more awards)

Pirated Copy by director He Jianjun (See also: Wiki entry). 2003. Screenplay: He Jianjun and Cui Zi’en (see also: Wiki and IMBD filmographies). Mandarin with English subtitles. 89 mins. The lives of motley characters intersect in Beijing, against a backdrop of pirated copies of western films.

Selected Scripts and Film Treatments

Realm of Gongs by director Yang Rui. 2009 documentary film treatment.

The Forbidden Book of Woman by director/screenwriter Sun Xiaoru. 2008 script treatment.

In Love We Trust by director/screenwriter Wang Xiaoshuai. 2006 final-draft script. 98 pages. (Silver Bear for Outstanding Screenplay, Berlin Film Festival, 2007.)

Too Sexy for the Revolution by screenwriters Li Ying and Ai Wan. 2006 script treatment.

Leaving Camp Clearwater (Gaobie Jiabiangou) by director/screenwriter Wang Bing. 2005 full shooting script. 151 pages.

Aida of Wang Village by screenwriter Wang Shuo. 2004 first-draft script. 87 pages.

Chasing the Harvest by director/screenwriter He Jianjun. 2004 script treatment. 50 pages.

Selected Essays and Art Criticism

"Spectator Perspective" by Liu Sola; "Solution Scheme" by Shu Yang; "Autobiography in Two Parts" by Yu Na (in Solution Scheme by Xu Yong and Yu Na. 2007.)

"A Conversation between Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaodong" (in The Richness of Life: Personal Photographs of Contemporary Chinese Artist Liu Xiaodong. Timezone 8 Books. 2007.)

"Photography as Visual Sociology: Xu Yong’s Tale of Two Cities" by Daozi; "Factography: The Photographic Work of Xu Yong" by Shu Yang (in Backdrops by Xu Yong. Timezone 8 Books. 2006.)

"Is 798 a Cultural Petting Zoo?" by Yin Jinan; other essays (in 798: A Photographic Journal. Editor: Zhu Yan. Timezone 8 Books. 2004.)

"Synthetic Reality" by Pi Li; other essays (in Synthetic Reality / Hecheng Xianshi. Editors: Ni Haifeng and Zhu Jia. Timezone 8 Books. 2004.)

"Cinema and Adam's Rib: An Analysis of Women's Roles in Chinese and Western Cinema" by Xiaolu Guo. 2001.


Amber, a multi-media theatrical production by director Meng Jinghui and playwright Liao Yimei (translated full script and projection subtitles for 2005 performances in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.)

Lyric translations

Too many to count. Folk favorites include Wild Children (野孩子), Hu Mage, Zhou Yunpeng and Buyi. Rock favorites include Second-Hand Rose (glam-rock, Dongbei style) and Cold Blooded Animal (psychedelic Sino-grunge; albums 1, 2 and 3.)


Book Publications

Dream of Ding Village cover

Dream of Ding Village

Yan Lianke

January 04, 2011

All Translations

Novel (2)

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.


Creating a Literary Space to Debate the Mao Era: The fictionalisation of the Great Leap Forward in Yan Lianke’s Four Books

By Cindy M. Carter, December 3, '14

There's an interesting article by Sebastian Veg in China Perspectives that unpacks Yan Lianke's novel Four Books and examines the role of contemporary Chinese fiction in promoting a broader political and historical dialogue. Well worth a read.


Since the scar literature of the early 1980s, fiction and fictionalised autobiography have played an important role in bringing to light the mass violence of the Cultural Revolution. However, these texts remained within a well-defined framework in which the political system itself was not questioned. Over the last decade, by contrast, the Chinese literary field has focused more specifically on the 1950s, with works such as Yang Xianhui’s Chronicles of Jiabiangou (Tianjin, 2002), and Yang Jisheng’s Tombstone (Hong Kong, 2008). This paper focuses on Yan Lianke’s Four Books (Hong Kong, 2010), a full-fledged fictionalisation in a fantastic mode of the famine of the Great Leap Forward in a village on the Yellow River. Considering literature in the context of theories of the public sphere, it suggests that Yan’s book aims to broaden decisively the discussion on certain previously out-of-bounds aspects of the Mao era, an aim only partially thwarted by its failure to be published within mainland China. Four Books, like Yang Jisheng and Yang Xianhui’s works, thus represents an attempt to call into question the original legitimacy of the PRC polity and to create debate within the Chinese-speaking public sphere on the foundations of the current regime.

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The Three Percent Problem: Rants and Responses on Publishing, Translation, and the Future of Reading

By Cindy M. Carter, October 31, '11

From Chad Post and the Three Percent crew comes this $2.99 downloadable version of The Three Percent Problem: Rants and Responses on Publishing, Translation, and the Future of Reading [Kindle Edition].

This little book should be required reading for everyone who cares about books, in an age when translation matters more than ever (but has become an increasingly marginalized sub-specialty), in an era in which it's all too easy to forget that the books we've loved the most (Dostoevsky, Proust, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Confucius, the I Ching, the Torah, the Koran, the Old & New Testaments, pretty much every religious tract or towering work of poetry or fiction within that last 2 milennia, for fuck's sake...) have been made available to most of the world's population through translation.

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Eric Abrahamsen wins NEA grant to translate Xu Zechen's Running Through Zhongguancun

By Cindy M. Carter, August 1, '11

(Abrahamsen's probably too modest to post this, so I will.)

The 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowships have been announced, and Paper Republic's own Eric Abrahamsen has been awarded a grant to translate Xu Zechen's novel Running Through Zhongguancun, the excerpt of which was first published right here, on PR.

For more info, see NEA website here.


New Book on Yasukuni Shrine by documentary filmmaker Li Ying (李缨)

By Cindy M. Carter, July 7, '11

Documentary filmmaker and long-time Japan resident Li Ying (李缨) has recently published a Chinese-language book 《神魂颠倒日本国》about his documentary film Yasukuni. The product of nearly a decade of researching, filming and editing, Yasukuni has stirred controversy in both China and Japan, been banned in mainland China, and been the subject of a lawsuit in the Japanese courts.

From 14:00-15:30 on Sunday, July 10, 2011, Li Ying will hold a book release event and signing at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in 798 Art District, Beijing. The event is free, open to the public, and will be held in Chinese.

读书系列《神魂颠倒日本国》- 靖国骚动的浪尖与暗流

710周日) 14:00-15:30 UCCA报告厅

July 10 (Sun) 14:00-15:30 UCCA Auditorium

嘉宾李缨 Guest: Li Ying

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Beijing Literary Events for Feb-March 2011

By Cindy M. Carter, February 24, '11

Some upcoming literary events in Beijing:

Culture Program “2010, On the Poetic Power of Maras” Series 6: A Poetry Reading

Date: February 26, 2011 16:00-18:00
Guest: Waitong Liu and friends
Location: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), 798 Art District
In Chinese. Free entry.

In this, the final session of the “On the Poetic Power of Maras” series, moderator Waitong Liu and his friends will read and discuss his new poetry, accompanied by music and images: a fun musical jam and special slide show.

Bookworm International Literary Festival, 2011
Dates: March 4-18, 2011
Locations: various

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From Award-winning author attacks censors for 'castrating' creativity

By Cindy M. Carter, February 23, '11

Popular novelist Murong Xuecun says the mainland's draconian censorship has driven him to his wit's end.

The 37-year-old author, known for his dark humour, launched a scathing attack on the mainland's literary censorship in a lunchtime speech at the Foreign Correspondent's Club yesterday, blaming it for quashing writers' creativity and sabotaging the Chinese language.


Jan 7, 2011: Symposium with Taiwanese author Zhang Dachun (Chang Ta-ch'un)

By Cindy M. Carter, January 4, '11

Here's the latest update on the symposium about Zhang Dachun's new book Chengbang Baolituan at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in 798 Art District, Beijing:

17 (周五), 10:15-12:15, UCCA报告厅
January 7 (FRI), 10:15-12:15, UCCA Auditorium

【文化项目 Culture Program
UCCA新书发布系列8: 张大春新书《城邦暴力团》首发暨作品研讨会
UCCA Book Release Series 8: Chengbang Baolituan by Zhang Dachun

Address: UCCA, 798 Art District, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100015 Tel: +86 10 8459 9269 / 8459 9387

嘉宾 Guests: 张大春作家,《城邦暴力团》作者 / Zhang Dachun (novelist) ; 黄集伟专栏作家、出版人、书评家、作家、语词收藏人 Huang Jiwei (author, publisher, reviewer, columnist)
李敬泽文学评论家,《人民文学》主编 Li Jingze (literary critic, editor-in-chief of Renmin Wenxue [People’s Literature]) , 止庵学者,文学评论家 Zhi An (scholar, literary critic)

合作方 Partner: 世纪文景 Wenjing (Horizon Media)

语言 Language: 中文 In Chinese only

票务 Ticketing


This event is free, but requires a reservation.
UCCA members: To make reservations for this event, please send an e-mail with your membership number to by Jan 6.

Non-UCCA members: Please send an e-mail with your name and phone number to You will receive a confirmation e-mail by Jan 6.

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Google Translator: Making the World a More Baffling Place?

By Cindy M. Carter, March 11, '10

Machine translation has been in the news lately, so I thought it might be interesting to conduct an experiment. I've chosen four different Chinese texts (excerpts from a novel, a film and two newspaper interviews), translated them into English with Google Translate, and added my English translations (three of which have appeared on Paper Republic in the past year). I'm sure most of the translators in our forum have their own machine-translation stories...hope you'll share. That's not to say that machine translation is pointless: ten years from now, we will be taking this a lot more seriously. But in the meantime, we might as well have our bit of fun.


Zhang Chengzhi's Travelogue - En las Ruinas de la Flor: Viajes por al-Andalus

By Cindy M. Carter, February 19, '10

Zhang Chengzhi, 鲜花的废墟 Bruce Humes presents a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of Zhang Chengzhi's 鲜花的废墟 (En las Ruinas de la Flor: Viajes por al-Andalus).

"Zhang Chengzhi (张承志), the white-hot Red Guard who mastered Mongolian and Japanese—and then converted to Islam—has just launched En las Ruinas de la Flor: Viajes por al-Andalus (鲜花的废墟). His new Chinese-language travelogue takes us through Moorish Spain, Portugal and Morocco in search of the golden age of Islam in Europe (8th-15th centuries)."

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Han Han's speech at Xiamen University

By Cindy M. Carter, February 2, '10

Let me tell you a story. I am the chief editor of a magazine which has yet to be published. The Constitution states that every citizen has the freedom to publish, but the law also says that the leaders [have] the freedom not to let you publish. This magazine encountered certain problems during the review process. There is a cartoon drawing. In it, there is a man without clothes -- of course, this is unacceptable because the law says that we cannot exhibit the private parts in a publicly available magazine. I agree with that and I don't have a problem with it. Therefore, I intentionally created an extra-large magazine logo to place at the illegal spot of the cartoon. But unexpectedly, the publisher and the censor told us that this was unacceptable too -- when you cover up the middle part of a person, you are referring to the "Party Central" (note: "party" is a homonym for "block/shield" and "central" can mean either "center" or "middle"). My reaction was like yours -- I was awed and shocked. I thought to myself, "Friend, it would be so wonderful if you could put your awe-inspiring imagination into literary creation instead of literary censorship."

*I use this story to tell you that everybody has good imagination. Yet we can only imagine many things but we cannot do them, we cannot write about them and we cannot even talk about them in many situations. We have too many restrictions. This is a restricted country. How can a restricted country produce a rich and abundant culture? I am a comrade who has few restrictions. But when I write, I cannot help but think: I can't write about the police, I can't write about the leaders, I can't write about government policies, I can't write about the system, I can't write about the judiciary, I can't write about many pieces of history, I cannot write about Tibet, I cannot write about Xinjiang, I cannot write about assemblies, I cannot write about demonstration marches, I cannot write about pornography, I cannot write about censorship, I cannot write about art. *

English transcript of speech, with video links (on ESWN)

Chinese transcript of speech, with video links (on Dapenti)

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Niubi: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School

By Cindy M. Carter, January 30, '10

(I know, I know, but someone had to post this at some point. Figure it might as well be me.)

Author Eveline Chao and illustrator Chris Murphy serve up some naughty, naughty Mandarin in Niubi: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School. 160 pages of handy up-to-date profanity and text that includes Chinese characters, pinyin, tonal marks, pronunciation guides and dubious etymologies. Fun for all ages.

ChinaSmack has good scans of text and illustrations from the book, and spirited Chinese and English commentary from readers.

Here's the Amazon link, and a link to an old Paper Republic discussion thread in which we hashed and mashed "The Unspeakable Bi".


March 2010: The Beijing Bookworm Annual Literary Festival

By Cindy M. Carter, January 24, '10

From March 5-19, 2010, the Beijing Bookworm will be holding its annual literary festival. During the same period, Bookworm locations in Chengdu and Suzhou will also be hosting authors, readings and events. Here's a tentative schedule for some Chinese authors who will be doing readings/Q&A sessions at the Beijing location (PLEASE NOTE that this is a TENTATIVE schedule - check Bookworm site for updates and ticket prices.)

Sunday, March 7, 3 pm - Li Er - 李洱

Sunday, March 14, 6 pm - Yan Lianke - 阎连科

Monday, March 15, 7:30 pm - Bi Feiyu - 毕飞宇

Tuesday, March 16, 12:30 pm - Hong Ying - 虹影

Tuesday, March 16, 8:30 pm - Miao Wu and Xu Zechen - 徐则臣: Chinese Urban Fiction

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Internet searches, uncensored.

By Cindy M. Carter, January 17, '10

From Financial Times (1/16/10):

Just as cicadas thrum more urgently at the start of autumn, sensing that the end is nigh, internet users in China have been seizing in animated fashion on what one called "the last crazy days of".

With the US technology giant allowing uncensored searches in Chinese for the first time, citizens of the People's Republic are this week indulging their curiosity ahead of a widely expected crackdown.

"I've been doing all sorts of crazy searches, really distracting myself from my work," says one. "I've done Tiananmen Square, the love affairs of national leaders, the corruption of leaders' children. Everything."

Another internet user says the buzz of illicit abandon is reminiscent of the mood in Tiananmen Square itself, shortly before the People's Liberation Army crushed the protests there in 1989. "There is no way that Google will get away with this. They will have to leave China for sure," he adds.

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How do you say "Goodbye Google" in Chinese? Illegally, with flowers.

By Cindy M. Carter, January 13, '10

In response to Google's threat to exit China, people have started leaving bouquets of flowers at the entrance to Google headquarters in Beijing's Haidian District/Silicon Alley. Some supporters were told by security guards that they were not allowed to leave flowers at the entrance without a permit, which has given rise to a new Chinese internet meme: 非法献花, or "illegal presentation of flowers".

New York Times: Google, Citing Attack, Threatens to Exit China

Wired: Google to Stop Censoring Search Results in China After Hack Attack