Eric Abrahamsen (1978 – )

worldcat / academia

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Eric lived in Beijing from late 2001, when he studied Chinese at the Central University for Nationalities, until the end of 2016. He began struggling through Wang Xiaobo at an early date, and kept at it through the intervening years. He is the recipient of a PEN translation grant for Wang Xiaobo's My Spiritual Homeland and a NEA grant for Xu Zechen's Running Through Zhongguancun, later published as Running Through Beijing, which was shortlisted for the National Translation Award.

His short-story translations have appeared in magazines including The New Yorker, Granta, and n+1. He also writes occasional cultural criticism, which has appeared in the New York Times and Foreign Policy, among other venues.

Eric also runs a US-based company called Coal Hill Books which provides rights agency and publishing consulting for Chinese and international publishers seeking to do business with each other.

 

Read Paper Republic

Translations

Novels (2)

Essays (2)

Short stories (17)

As Editor

Posts

Give-it-a-go Update

By Eric Abrahamsen, May 14, '20

So if you'll recall, Paper Republic partnered up with Leeds University to do a mass co-translation plus online workshop to add a little spice to our current Read Paper Republic series (called "Epidemic").

To everyone's surprise and delight, we got a total of 124 participants from around the world, each giving us their rendering of an essay by Deng Anqing.

We scrambled into technical competence, setting up four Zoom meetings in three different time zones, and leading translation workshops with the goal of producing a readable consensus text. We're still in the process of editing that particular Frankenstein – look for it to be published next Thursday, May 21st – but in the meantime we made a (very) short video about the process, also on Zoom, natch. Enjoy!

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In Search of New Team Members: A Call to Arms

By Eric Abrahamsen, March 4, '20

Paper Republic has moved into a new era. Our mission is to promote Chinese literature in English translation, focussing on new writing from contemporary Chinese writers, and we recently registered as a charity in the UK, registration number 1182259. New era, new ambitions. We're growing, and we need new people to join our non-profit management team.

In particular, the wonderful Dave Haysom, who helped us develop the Paper Republic platform, is having to step back to focus on his job. Right now, we need someone with an interest in the social media side of things, and someone with an interest in running projects.

  • Are you interested in Chinese literature in translation? You don't have to be a translator, though it will help if you've done a bit.
  • Do you know about (or are you willing to learn about) creating posts or Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and our website? And can you come up with new ideas? Our marketing and social media profile is key to getting more people reading more Chinese literature in translation.
  • Are you interested in managing a project? Apart from maintenance of the website, Paper Republic is a project-based organization. Everyone on the management team is responsible for taking the lead on a project at some point.
  • Are you comfortable with technology? We exist mostly online, and are located around the world. That means that most of what we do is done through internet communications. Everyone does a bit of website data entry, as well!
  • Are you willing to join management meetings via Slack. These can be at ungodly hours (our other team members are scattered in China, the west coast of America and the UK). Meetings are every two to three weeks for about an hour. Other business gets discussed by email.
  • Are you willing to volunteer your services? Our management team consists of five volunteers. You would be the sixth or seventh member of our team. The management work is unpaid, although we always aim to pay translators and editors. It doesn’t matter where you live, so long as your time zone means you can join our Slack meetings.

What will you get out of it?

  • You’ll be giving something back, to Chinese literature and the wider Chinese translation community
  • You’ll be working on a website that has an international reputation (the London Book Fair judges in 2016 called us the go-to place for Chinese translations and translators)
  • For more than ten years, Paper Republic has shaped people’s views of Chinese literature in translation all over the word.
  • You’ll be joining a community of translators, and you’ll learn professional skills (and we hope we’ll learn from you).

If you're interested, please drop us a note (and a CV) via email: info@paper-republic.org

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We're a Charity!

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 3, '19

Paper Republic has been through several incarnations during our twelve years of operation – from the early days of translators drinking cheap beer in Beijing, to the brainstorming session in the back room of the Beijing Bookworm where we came up with the name “Paper Republic”, to the first dog-slow Wordpress site. We started off as a place for translators to talk to each other, and soon transitioned into a platform for helping people learn about Chinese literature.

Over those twelve years we’ve done a whole lot of different stuff, almost all on a volunteer basis. Literature database; translation services; thought-provoking blog posts; online reading; magazine production; literary agency; publishing consulting; publishing fellowship; literary festivals. At some point we started feeling a little dizzy, and it seemed increasingly important to regroup a bit according to our original goals: to bring the best works of Chinese literature into English; to support emerging translators; and to maintain the internet’s best resource for Chinese literature.

We realized that these goals are essentially non-profit in nature, and that it didn't make much sense to try to run Paper Republic as a regular company. The solution: to register as a non-profit! More specifically, as a Charitable Incorporated Organization, based in the UK.

We set up the charity this year. We have a great group of trustees who oversee what we do and bring us the benefit of their experience, and our management team continues to work on projects, mostly as volunteers. You can see a little more background at our about page, and meet the gang here. If you’d like to support us via Paypal, we’d be thrilled.

Meanwhile, a few of our more commercially-oriented projects – Pathlight magazine, publishing consulting, and literary agency – will go to a US company we’re calling Coal Hill Books. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Lastly, if you’re in London, watch this space for an announcement of a launch party, with wine and books and balloons and all other things necessary for a literary get-together. We hope you’ll join us and celebrate!

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Job Posting: Pathlight Managing Editor

By Eric Abrahamsen, January 24, '18

Pathlight Magazine, a Paper Republic publication, is looking for a new Managing Editor!

The position is about half time (though sometimes busier than others), and based in Beijing. You will be working together (mostly remotely) with Paper Republic editors, and with People’s Literature Magazine, our Chinese partners. Responsibilities include:

  1. Keeping the magazine to a quarterly publication schedule.
  2. Working with Paper Republic and People’s Literature to collectively choose a theme and a table of contents for each issue.
  3. Assigning and collecting translations.
  4. Editing translations, or assigning editing work to other editors.
  5. Doing social media promotion.

We’ll provide translator and editor resources, and help connect you with everyone you need to talk to.

Salary is paid per issue, and is competitive.

Our ideal candidate:

  1. Is in Beijing.
  2. Is a Chinese => English translator. One of the strengths of Pathlight is that our translations are edited by translators.
  3. Is organized, and not afraid to crack the whip.
  4. Is conversant with contemporary Chinese fiction and poetry.
  5. Has some familiarity with digital publishing, including using InDesign and manipulating epub files.
  6. Has a bit of experience dealing with Chinese government-owned institutions.
  7. Would be available to start in the next couple months.

Interested parties please email info@paper-republic.org.

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Suggestions for Our Database

By Eric Abrahamsen, January 16, '18

Spurred by Three Percent's new searchable database of translations, in particular the ability to add new or missing titles, I've finally gotten around to finishing the first version of a similar "suggestions" function for the Paper Republic database of translated Chinese literature.

You can find the "Suggest an addition" link on the left-hand side of the PR pages, or follow this link directly. Right now it's limited to suggesting works of literature (though there's a write-in field for authors who aren't in the database), but I hope to eventually expand the options. If you're adding new works of literature to the database, please remember that Chinese originals and English translations have equal standing, so make two suggestions.

And thanks! If you have any suggestions about the suggestion (meta-suggestions!), please leave them in comments on this post.

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GLLI (18) - Chinese Literature Prizes - by Chen Dongmei

By Eric Abrahamsen, February 18, '17

China's domestic literary prizes are often viewed with uncertainty from abroad: Who runs them? Are they trustworthy? How are the different prizes specialized? Which should we be paying attention to? We've asked Chen Dongmei, who usually exerts her influence behind the scenes, to step forward and give us a rundown of prizes for adult and children's literature, to try to shed some light on these questions.

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GLLI (11) - Ken Liu on Chinese Science Fiction

By Eric Abrahamsen, February 11, '17

The following post, part of our Global Literature in Libraries Initiative series, is an email interview with Ken Liu, author and translator of science fiction. Apart from his own fiction Ken is best known around here as the translator of volumes I and III of the Three Body Problem, together with Joel Martinsen, and Clarkesworld magazine's in-depth interest in Chinese science fiction. We talked to him about what Chinese sci-fi has to offer -- take a look!**

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Zhang Lijia Author Talk: Lotus at NY Barnes & Noble

By Eric Abrahamsen, February 1, '17

Zhang Lijia, author of Socialism is Great!, is talking about her first novel, Lotus, February 1 7pm at the NY Barnes & Noble, 82nd and Broadway. See this link for more information, and stop by if you're in town!

From the event blurb: Inspired by the secret life of author Lijia Zhang's grandmother, Lotus follows a young woman torn between past traditions and modern desires as she carves out a life for herself in China's "City of Sins." This perceptive, sensitive novel examines what it means to be an individual in a society that praises restraint in and obedience from its women.

lotus cover

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Three Chances to See Ge Fei in New York

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 7, '16

Ge Fei's new English novel, The Invisibility Cloak, translated by our own Canaan Morse, is out next week, published by The New York Review of Books Press next week. Ge Fei is visiting the Big Apple and environs, and those of you in Manhattan or Brooklyn have three chances to see him talk about his new book!

  1. The first event is at Columbia University on October 12th (Wednesday) starting at 4pm, where Ge Fei will be joined by Canaan to discuss the book.

  2. Then later that evening (October 12th, 7pm) Ge Fei appears at the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, in conversation with Michael Barron.

  3. Lastly, he'll be at the China Institute on the 13th (Thursday) at 6:30pm, with Zhang Xudong.

If you're in town, take the opportunity to see Ge Fei talk! He's a great writer, a great big brain, and a wonderful speaker.

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Redesign

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 3, '16

We've got a new look! With thanks to Sun Xiaoxi, the designer behind the 2015 BIBF look. 21st century, here we come!

It's possible that people using truly ancient versions of Internet Explorer might have some difficulties – please let me know in the comments.

Meanwhile, this will be a good starting place from which to start working on better entry points to the database. A nice winter project...

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