By Jack Hargreaves, June 22, '21
Here's your fortnightly round-up of recent news regarding Chinese literature, the people who write it, the people who translate it, and the people who read it.
What's going on these days? Yan Ge has switched to writing in English, that's what. And how: her debut English-language story collection and novel have already sold, to Faber and Scribner. While this is obviously objectively awesome news, there is something a tiny bit bittersweet about it for those of us who translate. Nothing has been lost, we tell ourselves. Nothing lost! We have not asked Jeremy Tiang for a quote, but imagine him gazing fondly yet a little forlornly at a copy of Strange Beasts of China (which is hot in Philly).
If you're tired of books (as if), why not watch some book-related movies next month? The Chinese Visual Festival has a great line-up of Chinese-language film, including a screening of Jia Zhangke's Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, a documentary about three Chinese authors (Yu Hua, Jia Pingwa, and Liang Hong) and their connection to the land. Note that the related event with Jia Pingwa and Liang Hong has been cancelled, as well as a few of the film screenings, as well as... Well, more about that in the next newsletter.
Other news from the Republic: we're scrambling to keep up with a multitude of educational projects, running workshops and talks in partnership with Aberdeen University, judging submissions for the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators, and gearing up for the Bristol Translates summer school. Meanwhile Nicky hates Microsoft Teams, Jack has mastered the art of Twitter-fishing, and Eric, despite decades of working between continents, still can't keep his timezones straight.
And here's something that doesn't happen often enough: we're hearing a lot of buzz from inside China about a new Chinese-language novel. It's titled Folk Music 《民谣》, by a literary critic named Wang Yao (王尧). It came out in Harvest (收获) magazine in 2020 – still for our money the best literary magazine in China – and was published in book form this past April by Yilin Publishing House. Both the magazine and the publishing house have gotten in touch with us to tell us how much they loved the book, and how much they think someone should translate it. It seems to be a work of autofiction, set in northern Jiangsu province during the 1970s, a finely-experienced story of the narrator and his family. We'll let you know what we think!
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And, finally, the actual news:
By Jack Hargreaves, June 6, '21
I'm going to start off with the reminder this week: you can subscribe here to receive this newsletter straight into your inbox every fortnight! And if you are already signed up, please check your junk/spam/trash folder on Tuesday evening in case the email hasn't arrived yet.
Now for the news: first of all I'd like to point you to all the poetry that has been dug up from the archives or newly published online in commemoration of a certain anniversary this month. Powerful stuff - a lame analysis I know, but the poems speak for themselves. Next, it's Pride month, and there's lots that is related going on within Chinese-language lit for us to be happy about. One thing is the continued and welcomed publication of reviews and extracts from The Membranes, and another is the release of a new book from one of my favourite authors, Chen Xue 陳雪, Dear Accomplice (親愛的共犯), a detective novel published by Mirror Fiction, though no translation available as yet of course! AND -- this just released as I was about to post -- Words Without Borders' 12th annual queer issue contains two translations from Chinese! And for the rest, well, have a see for yourself below:
By Jack Hargreaves, May 25, '21
A less busy edition this time around but the two stories, one from Hai Fan (tr. Jeremy Tiang), the other from Leung Lee-chi (tr. Jennifer Feeley), as well as the stacks of reviews, all for your reading pleasure, more than make up for it.
And finally, the chance you've all been waiting for has arrived! If you want to receive these newsletters straight into your inbox every fortnight, sign up here!
Please bear with us while we refine the new version and add extra content, but we'll continue to post here anyway.
Enjoy your weeks!
By Jack Hargreaves, May 12, '21
Sorry for the delay this time around. Fortunately, it's not stopped this from being a jam-packed edition, and one full of excitement too: winner announcements, new books, upcoming big events and recordings of those you might have missed. PLUS, in the next newsletter there'll be an option to subscribe to receive future editions via email. It's something we've been thinking about a while, and something a number of you have requested we do already. It will mean additional content in the future as we develop the newsletter further. So look out for that!
Have a lovely two weeks!
By Jack Hargreaves, April 25, '21
I mean, the title this week says it all - we've a busy fortnight ahead in Chinese lit related excitement, and I'm running out of title ideas (that started to happen a few newsletters ago to be honest, but my imagination continues to fail me - I blame lockdown...). Beyond that, there are new books (coming) out from Sinoist, Astra House, HarperVia and Columbia University Press, as well as the lit translation model contract from the Authors Guild! A life-changer as far as I'm concerned!
By Jack Hargreaves, April 11, '21
First port of call this instalment is the Translators Association's acknowledgement that racial inequality is systemically embedded within the literary translation industry. It is a rallying cry for everyone at every level, in every role, to make change.
Then there are two very exciting sci-fi events that you should be signing up for (and I would be too if they weren't in the States), plus writing from Malaysian author Ho Fok Song and Tibetan writer Tsering Norbu, translated by Natascha Bruce and Riga Shakya, respectively.
Followed by the now-to-be-expected mainstay: more reviews for Strange Beasts of China and The Membranes. Plus the announcement of two new books coming soon. See below to find out which!
See you in two weeks! 88
By Jack Hargreaves, March 28, '21
The International Booker Prize longlist is out, and Can Xue features, timely news given the announcement of her new novella (tr. Natascha Bruce) out next year. Yang Lian and Brian Holton are on the podium, too, for Anniversary Snow. But alas, it's not all good news. LARB China Channel is closing due to struggles with funding. But ever the givers, its contributors have provided one last hurrah by pointing us in the direction of their own favourite sources of all things China and Chinese. See below for more!
By Jack Hargreaves, March 14, '21
This fortnight we trace the origin of the cosmos with the Nuosu creation story and look to the future with oracle-penman Chen Qiufan. If you're looking to practice your pronunciation, there's Bopomofo poetry or Jidi Majia in Scots, but if all you really want is to sit back and relax with a film, Taiwanese cinema has something for everyone.
By Jack Hargreaves, March 2, '21
I don't know if the amount of news is increasing each week or if we're just getting better at finding it! Feast your eyes on this delectable selection of all things Chinese lit in translation.
Some of you have asked us if you'll be able to sign up to receive the newsletter by email. We definitely plan to start sending out a regular newsletter, but when is yet undecided. So for the time being, return here every two weeks as you have been for your Chinese lit fix.
By Jack Hargreaves, February 13, '21
LOTS to read this week: poetry aplenty, a story from the inimitable Zhu Yue, another review of Strange Beasts of China, extract from Uyghur writer Alat Asem's work, and a discussion with translator Carlos Roja about The Four Books. Dig in!
By Jack Hargreaves, January 31, '21
Hi all! Lots of events to be excited about in the next month or two, plus plenty of reading to be getting on with. Anyway, have a lovely two weeks and we'll see you same time, same place in a fortnight.
By Jack Hargreaves, January 29, '21
We're back! And we're starting 2021 with two sentences from two wonderful children's books.
The first is from 《好困好困新年》by Meng Yanan 孟亚楠, translated by winner of the 6th Bai Meigui Translation Competition, Izzy Hasson, as Sleepy, Sleepy New Year and published by Balestier Press.
The second is from 《我要作好孩子》 by Huang Beijia 黄蓓佳, translated by Nicky Harman as I Want to Be Good, to be published by New Classic Press this February.
The sentences and their context are below, but first some brief instructions for those joining us for the first time or in case 2020 has made you forget how this works.
- You have two weeks to complete your own translations of the sentences below.
- Once you're happy with them, post them in the comments at the bottom of the page. If you like, tell us what you liked about doing the translation or about the text or what you found difficult.
- Read others' translations, ask them questions in the comments, admire their work and generally just geek out as much as you like!
[Pictures reproduced by kind permission of the publisher.]
By Jack Hargreaves, January 20, '21
Here it is, what you've all been waiting for, the definitive round-up of all things Chinese / literature / translation / everything in-between.
It was brilliant after the first instalment to receive requests for newsletter subscription, which is definitely our aim -- to have this drop in your inbox every two weeks -- but for now it remains in its nascent form.
If there's anything you'd like to see more of, less of, just the right amount of, please comment below. If you've stumbled upon news we've missed, or on any stories or extracts (I've found zero (EDIT: two)), pop them in the comments too.
See you again in two weeks!
By Jack Hargreaves, January 6, '21
This is the first of a regular news post we're going to be running. For now it will take the form of a round-up of recent news links and upcoming events relevant to Chinese literature and its translation.
If there are specific kinds of links/news you would like to see in the future, mention it in the comments below. Also, if there's anything we've missed, post below too. Thanks!
By Jack Hargreaves, December 3, '20
The final sentence of series one went up in mid-July. By the end of the week, the total number of translations contributed since the game's beginning by lots of lovely translators, one of whom doesn't read Chinese and two of which were computer programmes, had reached 139 -- if I've counted right that is, which I don't think I did, so let's just go with 'enough to consider a second series'. So here it is!
Well actually, first, we'd like your help. That's right, not only are we asking you to translate this time around, we're inviting you to suggest the sentences too!
Please send any sentence (or two) from Chinese-language fiction that excites, dazzles, bamboozles or floors you to email@example.com (sentences from short stories particularly welcome —— you'll find out why later!).
With every submission, please include: the sentence, book/story it is taken from, page number (if you know it), author, and a little context.
We'll start the new series in 2021.
If you missed series one and you're wondering what this is all about, have a look at the series intro here, with links to the sentences we translated over the eight weeks.
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!