2019 Translations from Chinese

By Nicky Harman, published

Part of: Year-End Roll Call

cover image

Here’s our roll-call of books translated from Chinese in 2019

There’s (almost) something for everyone this year – scifi and Singapore fiction have a strong showing, as do pre-modern classics, and even one self-help book. But still, fewer translated works were published in 2019 than in 2018 (31, as against 40-odd in 2018 ) Worst of all, only four of the list below are women writers. Every year, novels that are funny, sharp, moving and entertaining are published in the Chinese-speaking world – there is plenty for publishers and literary agents to seek out. We at Paper Republic continue to work hard to bring our favourite novels to their attention. (Watch out for our list of 2019 publications in Chinese, to be posted next week.) Read on

On the literary prizes front, there has been one recent piece of good news: the Society of Authors TA First Translation Prize has two Chinese novels on the shortlist of six! Shortlisted are: Natascha Bruce and her editor Jeremy Tiang for a translation of Lonely Face by Singapore author Yeng Pway Ngon (Balestier Press, 2019), and William Spence and his editor Tomasz Hoskins for The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by Xinran Xue Xinran (I. B. Tauris, 2018). Especially cheering is the diversity of these entries: a Chinese work from Singapore, and a work of non-fiction by Xinran, a Chinese woman based in the UK who writes best-selling reportage about China. So, to Tascha and Will and their authors and editors, 加油! And to our readers, keep an eye out for the results, to be announced in February 2020.

When you look at the list below, you will see that, for the first time, we have added links to book reviews to some entries. The lack of a review link in no way reflects on the quality of the book; it may be that it has only just been published, or simply that we didn’t spot a review. If you have a review link to add, send it along and we’ll insert it.
Nicky Harman, with thanks to Helen Wang and Dave Haysom

Fiction (mainly)


Younger Readers (Picture Books, Middle Grade, YA)

About literature



# 1.   

Hi You might add these to the list: Yang Lian Anniversary Snow (2019) Bristol: Shearsman.

Yang Lian Venice Elegy (2019) Venice: Damocle Edizioni, trilingual paperback edition, with Italian translation by Federico Picerni.

yrs aye b

Brian Holton, December 14, 2019, 10:39a.m.

# 2.   

Nicky Thanks for the list. Not enough women writers, sure. But a major novel has been translated into French and by Brigitte Duzan and should be translated into English asap "Soft Burial" by Fang Fang. The best novel I have read this year. http://mychinesebooks.com/soft-burial-novelist-fang-fang-land-reform-china/

bertrand MIALARET, December 14, 2019, 11:20a.m.

# 3.   

Many thanks, Brian, the poetry section definitely looking better now. And thanks Bertrand. I wish it was in English. I heard some rumours but nothing definite.

Nicky Harman, December 15, 2019, 2:13p.m.

# 4.   

Two more:

Shi Tiesheng, My Travels in Ding Yi, tr. Alex Woodend (ACA)

Feng Jicai, Faces in the Crowd: 36 Extraordinary Tales of Tianjin, tr. Olivia Milburn (ACA)

jdmartinsen, December 20, 2019, 2:07a.m.

# 5.   

Thanks, Joel. Can't think how I managed to miss those two out -- I have copies of both of them! I have now inserted. So the list's up to 30

Nicky Harman, December 21, 2019, 9:40a.m.

# 6.   


Here's a late entry (mid-Dec 2019) that you might wish to add to your list. Patigül is a female writer from a Uyghur and Hui family, raised in Xinjiang. She writes in Chinese:

English title: Bloodline
Chinese title: 百年血脉
Translator: Natascha Bruce
Publisher: Aurora Publishing LLC

Now up on Amazon.com as an e-book: Bloodline

Bruce Humes, January 17, 2020, 2a.m.


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