2020 Roll Call of Published Translations from Chinese

By Nicky Harman, published

Part of: Year-End Roll Call

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2020: torrid times. Not all of the ones on our 2020 Forthcoming Translations (posted in December 2019) made it into publication this year, but a number of translations from Chinese have still come out.

Kudos to writers, translators and publishers alike!


The Newman Prize for Chinese Literature is awarded biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement in prose or poetry that best captures the human condition. The 2021 Prize is awarded to Yan Lianke. Juror Eric Abrahamsen said of the winner, “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.”

The Warwick Prize for Women in Translation shortlisted two Chinese translations, out of five. Lake Like a Mirror, by Ho Suk Fong, translated by Natascha Bruce (Granta 2020) and White Horse, by Yan Ge, translated by Nicky Harman (Hope Road, 2019). The winner was The Eighth Life (for Brilka) by Nino Haratischvili, translated from German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin (Scribe), and the runner-up was Letters from Tove, by Tove Jansson, translated from Swedish by Sarah Death (Sort of Books), all chosen from a total of 132 entries.

And the Best Translated Book Award longlisted China Dream by Ma Jian, translated from the Chinese by Flora Drew (Counterpoint).

Apart from those three awards, Chinese translations made a poor showing again in the international prize lists, with none being long- or short-listed for the International Booker Prize 2020, or the International Dublin Literary Award.

Gender balance

The proportion of translated women novelists has not improved over last year. Of the 17 general fiction single-author books, only 6 are by women. The figures for other categories are: classic fiction, zero; science fiction, 1 out of 2; non-fiction, 3 out of 6. Worst of all, considering the number of excellent female poets in China, only 2 out of the 12 poets listed below are women!

A selection of star reviews of books on this year’s list:

General Fiction

Classic Fiction

Science Fiction and Fantasy





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