Eric Abrahamsen (1978 – )

worldcat | academia |


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


Read Now: On Paper Republic

Mister Lover by Wang Xiaobo July 16, 2015

Read Now: Around the Web

Silver Tiger by Lu Yang The New Yorker
The Real Censors of China The New York Times
A Brief History of Time by Xu Zechen N+1
Irony is Good! Foreign Policy Magazine
Broken Words Without Borders

Book Publications

Running Through Beijing cover

Running Through Beijing

Xu Zechen

February 10, 2014

The Civil Servant's Notebook cover

The Civil Servant's Notebook

Wang Xiaofang

June 01, 2012

Original Works

Article (3)

All Translations

Short story (17)

Novel (2)

Essay (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.


The Bane of Our Existence

By Eric Abrahamsen, June 24, '07

Words Without Borders has a new Chinese short story, The Bane of My Existence by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping. It's good to see more Chinese material coming out, but I can't say it deserves the effusive praise that accompanies it. The "hell cat tortures owner" plot feels like a whopping three parts symbolism to one part story, while the piece ends like this, with a sentence made of pure plywood: "All I knew was that I couldn’t bear to even imagine everything the future would bring." Arggh!

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Editors: what are they good for?

By Eric Abrahamsen, June 2, '07

During a long dinner with Lu Li and her husband a few weeks ago, she further confirmed something that I've suspected for a while: editors at Chinese publishing houses generally don't edit. Proofread – yes; censor – most definitely. But as for actual editing… She said the best she got was typically along the lines of "we like this story", or "this one's boring in the middle". There may be publishers out there who take the time to understand a writer's work, and help bring it closer to its ideal state, but they appear to be in the minority.

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Welcome, and pardon the mess

By Eric Abrahamsen, June 1, '07

Many thanks to Jenny Niven and Time Out Beijing for the article – as you can see we’re still in the process of setting up shop. Things are a little thin at the moment, but please stop by over the next week as we get underway, or better yet subscribe to the RSS feed on the right. Thanks for visiting!

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