By Eric Abrahamsen, November 20, '11
So that this shouldn't become a wall of rambling text, I'm going to
arrange the rest of my observations and recollections from the
Chinese Literature Week
in Oslo into easily-digestible bullet points. No actual
logical structure or cohesion is implied!
Turnout was amazing—around 4,000 attendees at 30-some events. Not
bad for a group of writers few of whom are translated into Norwegian.
A total of seven Chinese authors are available in Norwegian
translation, two of whom write in English (Li Yiyun and Guo Xiaolu) and
three of whom live outside China (add Ma Jian to the above). The
Norwegian publishers I met, to their credit, seem fairly intent on
changing this situation. Yu Hua's Brothers is in the works, as is Ai
Mi's Under the Hawthorn Tree. Xu Zechen was eyed appraisingly.
The Norwegians are quite generous. Never have I purchased meals
with a square of plastic that didn't have to be run through a machine:
you gestured with it at the waiters, and they smiled and brought you
By Eric Abrahamsen, November 16, '11
I'm in Norway for the
House of Literature's
Chinese Literature Week
(see the link for full schedule). Participants include Xi Chuan 西川, Wang Hui 汪晖,
Murong Xuecun 慕容雪村, Ma Jian 马建, Leslie T. Chang, Rebecca Karl,
Michael Dutton, Li Yiyun 李翊雲, Hong Ying 虹影, Mian Mian 棉棉, Xu
Zechen 徐则臣, Han Song 韩松, Lan Lan 蓝蓝, Cheng Yong Xin 程永新, Zou
Zou 走走 and me (thank you Lucas for
typing all that up). Annie Baby was
supposed to come, but she recently received word that her magazine,
Open, was going to be shut, and stayed home instead. The spirit
hovering over all this is Halvor Elfring who, besides having a pretty
decent name, is Norway's principle sinologist and gracious dinner host
of sundry China-related vagabonds [edit: I got Halvor Elfring confused with Harald Bøckman, who has a less exciting name but makes up for it with a great beard].
I'm pleased to be here: we put a fair amount of work into the planning
stage of this event ("we" here means Canaan), and it's nice that we
can also be present for its execution ("we" here means me). Houses of
Literature around the globe, take note!
This is day three of events, but I only arrived last night, so more
reports to follow. So far, the House of Literature seems lovely: a
large, well-run place offering regular readings and author talks, with
a writing center, writer-in-residence quarters, children's literature
center, and bookshop. The bookshop had a nice selection of Chinese
literature in English and Norwegian translation: Lenin's Kyss by Yan
Lianke can only be 受活 (Shouhuo), currently being translated into
English by Carlos Rojas. I was also foolishly amused to read of Mo
Yan's association with the "Lu Xun-prisen" and the "Mao Dun-prisen". I
guess a translator shouldn't laugh at these false cognates—the problem
is in your head, after all, not the language—but one permits oneself a
Events have so far been packed: 500+ for writers with no Norwegian
By Eric Abrahamsen, October 3, '11
This month's newsletter is going out now… Actually that would be September's newsletter, but hell, everyone's on vacation. Things I like in this issue: Ge Fei finally published the final volume in his "Utopia" series, titled Southern Spring (春尽江南), and Lawrence Li of Tangcha (唐茶) is producing really beautiful Chinese-language e-Books, selling them via iOS, and… people are buying them. Sign up here!
By Eric Abrahamsen, September 20, '11
Seems like all the literary events I've been to recently have been about A Yi's new book, Guaren (寡 人, literally "the lonely one", a term the Emperor used to refer to himself). The book is hard to categorize: taken largely from a blog he once kept on the cutting-edge "Bullogger" blogging platform, it consists of short chunks – anywhere from a sentence to ten pages – of writing, some chunks obviously fictional, some more journal-like. Among them are early forms of some of his stories – "The Bird Saw Me" and Cat and Mouse (which is appearing in Today magazine next month, under a new title, I forget which) – as well as, one assumes, some ideas that never made it into fiction at all. One of these, titled "Warmth", I've translated below. Enjoy!
By Eric Abrahamsen, September 6, '11
After a fairly lukewarm showing on Day 1, attendance at the book fair spiked noticeably on September 1st and 2nd. A number of the major Chinese publishers (like Fonghong and People’s Literature) held their major events during these days, and the digital publishing booth had a fairly full schedule. Open Book, Ltd. gave two presentations on the 1st related to digital publishing in China, the first a market analysis and the second designed around the results of a reader’s survey carried out among online readers and bookshop visitors.
By Eric Abrahamsen, May 14, '11
Back in March we mentioned on the newsletter that Ou Ning had started a new literary magazine called Chutzpah (天南 in Chinese). It's got a English-language supplement (Ou Ning refers to it as a "parasite") called Peregrine featuring English translations of some of the content. The first issue of Peregrine is available for download as a PDF here. Translators include Lucy Johnston, Julia Lovell, Anna Holmwood, Dinah Gardner and Shumei Roan, translating Li Rui, A Yi, Gu Qian, and Liu Zheng, take a look!
By Eric Abrahamsen, March 20, '11
Part two being: you can now sign up for it without receiving an error! Apologies to anyone who was baffled by that particular oversight, and we hope you'll try again.
By Eric Abrahamsen, March 17, '11
Inventory is calling for submissions for its second issue, deadline June 2. From their submissions guidelines (PDF):
Inventory publishes thoughtful translations and focuses critical attention on translation theory and practice. Based in Princeton University’s
Department of Comparative Literature, Inventory finds and catalogues original translations of poetry and prose from any language into English, provides critical texts on the subject of translation, and offers suggestions by leaders in various fields of translation work left to be done.
By Eric Abrahamsen, March 17, '11
Two websites to draw your attention to:
Artspace China is a blog run by Christen Cornell, a PhD student at the University of Sydney. It's got lots of great stuff about all the Chinese arts, with a fair helping of Chinese literature in particular.
We can't really read china traducida y por traducir, given that it's in Spanish, but the website, run by Spanish-language translators, aims to do something like what we do here, except in… Spanish. A sister site!
By Eric Abrahamsen, March 14, '11
Some of you have noticed the industry newsletter signup form at the top right of the Paper Republic home page, and have obediently signed up without really knowing what you were in for—we salute you!
For the rest of you: Paper Republic has started publishing a free monthly email newsletter carrying all sorts of information about the Chinese publishing industry. It is edited by Bruce Humes, with the assistance of Alice Wang. This is mostly aimed at those expecting to do some sort of business related to Chinese publishing, but much of it will also be of general interest. You can subscribe at this page.
Two issues have already gone out, and now we're making some minor adjustments to the program: namely, you can now browse the contents of earlier issues (though the most recent issue will always only be available through email), and we've changed the format of the newsletter itself so it's less Wall Of Text.
As always we welcome feedback, in the comments if you like, or in this case you can email the Bureau of Newsletter Production directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Eric Abrahamsen, January 14, '11
Whilst I was looking the other direction, Cindy Carter's translation of Yan Lianke's novel Dream of Ding Village was published by Grove Press in the US and Constable and Robinson in the UK. Take a look at this book (there's a Kindle edition!), it's a good one, by one of China's best contemporary authors. And an excellent translation!
By Eric Abrahamsen, December 27, '10
Han Han just posted to his blog, confirming rumors that his magazine Choir of Soloists (独唱团) will be shutting down after the first issue.
As you might imagine, Han Han can't get terribly specific about the exact causes of the shutdown—he appears not to be sure of the details himself—but it's pretty obvious that by the time every official body who could possibly have an opinion about the magazine had gotten through expressing that opinion, publication was impossible.
"…perhaps there are just too many 'relevant departments' and 'relevant people' in China, too many people determined to see cultural reading materials become cultural relics…"
By Eric Abrahamsen, November 20, '10
This is a bit beyond our bailiwick, but it sounds like fun: The English version of the Global Times is running a flash-fiction competition, with fabulous prizes etc. Apparently you need to be an English-language writer, in Beijing. Deadline is late December, here's the blurb:
Writers of Beijing, lend us your biros. The Global Times Beijing
Metro wants your smoking nuggets of flash fiction (1,000 words MAX). If you're one of our winners, you'll find yourself published in an anthology of Beijing fiction, and could win books or even a 5,000 yuan cash prize.
(also find us on Google Buzz for updates)
Flash Fried Fiction team
By Eric Abrahamsen, November 13, '10
I've been blowing on about Xu Zechen for ages, but only just got around to finishing a sample of his Running Through Zhongguancun, which you can read here.
By Eric Abrahamsen, October 17, '10
It seems that, for the Beijing Get It Louder events we could have done a slightly better job of, ahem, publicity, so I'm getting the word out early about Shanghai. Here's the full list for literature (follow the links for film and art, etc). Individually:
All events are at the 800Show site. All are free, but the INS Shanghai Declaration on Inauthenticity requires advance signup, you can email me for that.