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. You can reach him there at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here at the Ides of August (well, close enough), we bring you portentous news: there's been a changing of the guard at Paper Republic! Our esteemed colleague Yvette Zhu is stepping down from management team duties, owing to the time pressures of her actual job, that pays her an actual salary. She's has served admirably during this time. In fact her greatest contributions have yet to see the light of day – but more about that soon! We are sorry to see her go, and secretly hope she'll be back soon.
In the meantime, this sad news is balanced out by the addition of three new members to Paper Republic's management team: please welcome Jennifer Wong, Megan Copeland, and Danny Parrot to the dugout! Each has their own quite distinct background, and brings their own strengths to the team. We really look forward to expanding our roster of projects with their help.
What's happening, otherwise? It's Women in Translation month, that's what! Worlds Without Borders has a list of 11 translated books by Asian women writers, and you can also check out US PEN, Lithub, the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses and many other locales for relevant reading lists. We also note that there's currently no way to search the Paper Republic database for works by female writers, translated by female translators, and we resolve to add that capability.
Not content with the complete works of Lu Xun, Julia Lovell has taken on another momentous project in a new translation of Journey to the West, aka Monkey King. Watch as she joins Emily Jones and Dylan King in conversation about the translation process, and the story's place in Chinese and world culture.
Bonus feature: read Nicky Harman's review of the translation on the Asian Books Blog
A few days ago we published a statement on the site regarding Paper Republic's stance on racism, and support for BIPOC translators. After more discussion with the community, we posted a further statement on Twitter, which we're reposting here:
Paper Republic condemns the racism that has played, and continues to play, a fundamental role in shaping the fields of translation and publishing, and in preventing the voices of BIPOC translators from being heard.
We condemn racist translation practices both overt and covert, including bridge translation, and any other practice which devalues or discounts the work of BIPOC translators.
We apologize to Yilin Wang for the personal racist attacks she's had to endure during the course of this exchange, and we apologize to everyone watching for how long it's taken us to respond appropriately to the situation.
Our immediate course of action will be to take responsibility for community postings on Paper Republic: we will no longer permit unmoderated posts.
For the longer term, we are starting conversations with people in the community, and are considering what active programming we can put in place to support BIPOC translators and writers.
This initiative will require more research; we're likely to take Yilin's suggestion of either a community survey, or a "town hall" type event.
We are absolutely in support of BIPOC translators and their growing
prominence as translators of Chinese literature. The translation and
publishing industries have been tainted by exoticism and orientalism,
as a result of being dominated by white voices. We believe that the
single most positive trend in the translation of Chinese literature
over the past few decades has been the gradually-growing inclusion of
translators with personal roots in the language and culture. From the
dominance of academics (primarily white academics), to the rise of
(still mostly white) “professional translators”, the past few years
have seen a new wave of translators and writers who are either
heritage speakers of the language, or are native Chinese speakers who
are making their voices heard within English-speaking countries. We look forward to more such
translators appearing on the stage.
This process has also helped us realize that Paper Republic’s
editorial policy is anything but clear. Our platform allows anyone working in Chinese literature and translation
can post about themselves, their projects, and their points of view on
related issues. We do not solicit postings, nor do we vet them in
current management team is mostly focused on projects related to
education and short translations; the “blog-like” part of the site is
open to anyone with an account on the site.
Currently 78 people have accounts on Paper Republic, the vast majority
of them translators, and anyone with an account can post. We (the
management team) encourage any and all translators to ask for Paper
Republic accounts, and to use the site to amplify their voices however
We’re realizing that none of the above is obvious, at all. We’re working on a new version of the site that should make this
clearer. In the meantime, we restate our support for all translators,
particularly the BIPOC translators we believe are the future, and we
hope that Paper Republic can continue to serve as an open forum for
Paper Republic became a Charitable Incorporated Organization in the UK in February of 2019, and our first annual report is now due. We got sort of excited, and made a nice-looking report detailing all the fun we've had in the past year, and some of the fun we've got planned for the next year.
The Newman Prize honors Harold J. and Ruth Newman, whose generous endowment of a chair at the University of Oklahoma enabled the creation of the OU Institute for US-China Issues in 2006. OU is also home to the Chinese Literature Translation Archive, Chinese Literature Today, World Literature Today and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Juror Eric Abrahamsen said of the winner, “Yan’s writing does for the Chinese heartland what John Steinbeck did for the American West, or Thomas Hardy for Southwest England…he remains vitally invested in the ethical responsibility of the author. Though it has been demonstrated to him again and again that his explorations of China’s historical trauma are not welcome, he seems not to take the hint, and persists in laying bare what he sees as the original sins of modern Chinese society…His stubbornness, and the perpetual freshness of his sorrow over historical tragedy, are worthy of respect.”
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!
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).
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
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
The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia administers the Freeman Book Award, given to a children's or young adult book from or about an Asian countries, which has potential to be used in an educational setting. Books must be in or translated into English, and published in the US in the past year. The next submissions deadline is August 31st, 2019.
Pathlight Magazine, a Paper Republic publication, is looking for a new
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:
Keeping the magazine to a quarterly publication schedule.
Working with Paper Republic and People’s Literature to
collectively choose a theme and a table of contents for each issue.
Assigning and collecting translations.
Editing translations, or assigning editing work to other editors.
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:
Is in Beijing.
Is a Chinese => English translator. One of the strengths of
Pathlight is that our translations are edited by translators.
Is organized, and not afraid to crack the whip.
Is conversant with contemporary Chinese fiction and poetry.
Has some familiarity with digital publishing, including using
InDesign and manipulating epub files.
Has a bit of experience dealing with Chinese government-owned
Would be available to start in the next couple months.
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.
Deadline is March 1st, 2018 for the Vermont Studio Center/Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowships. Five poets and five translators can travel to Vermont for a four-week residency to work on poetry and poetry translation. See this link for details, and information on past fellows.
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.