There’s good and bad news this year. The good news is that books translated from Chinese have won an encouragingly wide selection of translation prizes and awards. For the first time, we have listed them below in different categories: prizes, awards and ‘other successes’. The not-so-good news is that, as in previous years, women writers and women poets are far less well-represented than men. The gender imbalance in all categories is shocking!
As usual, please let us know if you’d like to add books, star reviews and awards that we may have missed off the lists. Finally, we’re delighted to be able to add links to lists of books translated from Chinese into other languages. (Do let us know if there are more we can include.)
The Secret Talker | Review 1 , Review 2
Faraway | Review
The Wedding Party | Review
Sinopticon: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction | Review
Winter Pasture | Review
Prizes, Awards and Other Successes
- Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge, tr. Jeremy Tiang (Tilted Axis) was Runner-Up in the 2021 Warwick Women in Translation Prize
- Raised by Wolves: Poems and Conversations by Amang, tr. Steve Bradbury, won the American PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
- I Live in the Slums by Can Xue was longlisted for the Booker International Prize
- Anniversary Snow by Yang Lian, translated from Chinese by Brian Holton and others (Shearsman Books), won the inaugural Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry In Translation
- The ALTA National Translation Award in Prose Longlist included Can Xue's I Live in the Slums, tr. Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping, and Sanmao's Stories of the Sahara, tr. Mike Fu. The Sanmao was also shortlisted. In the Poetry section, Yi Lei's My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree, tr. Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi, and The Selected Poems of Tu Fu, tr David Hinton, were longlisted
- Ge Fei's Peach Blossom Paradise, tr. Canaan Morse, was shortlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature
- Karen Hung Curtis, won Highly Commended in the John Dryden Competition for her translation of (Desert) War Diaries. The longlist also included Chen Du and Xisheng Chen for The World’s Ten Portraits (from “Rock Arrangement”) by Yan An, and Jack Hargreaves for Little Miss Box Person by Shen Dacheng
- The 2021 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation shortlist included The Selected Poems of Tu Fu tr. David Hinton
- And A History of Taiwan Literature by Ye Shitao, tr. Christopher Lupke, won the MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Translation of a Scholarly Study of Literature
- PEN/Heim Translation Grants were awarded to Natascha Bruce for Owlish and the Music-Box Ballerina by Dorothy Tse, and to May Huang for her translation of Young Gods by Chiou Charng-Ting
- English PEN Translates awards went to Flowers of Lhasa by Tsering Yangkyi, translated from the Tibetan by Christopher Peacock (Balestier Press), and Cocoon by Zhang Yueran, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang (World Editions)
Zhu Yue’s short story, “Leaving Home,” translated by Jianan Qian and Alyssa Asquith, was selected for the 2020 Best of the Net Anthology
World Literature Todays 100 Notable Translations of 2021 include
- Ai Weiwei, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows, trans. Allan H. Barr (Penguin)
- Chen Jiatong, White Fox in the Forest, illus. Viola Wang, trans. Jennifer Feeley (Chicken House)
- Liu Cixin, To Hold Up the Sky, trans. various (Tor Books)
- Li Juan, Winter Pasture: One Woman’s Journey with China’s Kazakh Herders, translated by Paper Republic’s very own Jack Hargreaves & Yan Yan (Astra House)
- Zhou Daxin, Longevity Park, tr. James Trapp (Sinoist)
- Feng Jicai, A Looking-Glass World, tr. Olivia Milburn (Sinoist)
- Jia Pingwa, The Mountain Whisperer, tr. Christopher Payne (Sinoist)
- Chang Yu-Ko, Whisper, tr. Roddy Flagg (Honford Star)
- Liu Xinwu, The Wedding Party, tr. Jeremy Tiang (AmazonCrossing)
- Lo Yi-Chin, Faraway: A Novel, tr. Jeremy Tiang (Columbia UP)
- Yan Geling, The Secret Talker, tr. Jeremy Tiang (HarperVia)
- Yan Lianke, Hard Like Water, tr. Carlos Rojas (Grove)
- Huang Chun-Ming, Raise the Bottle, Short Stories, tr. Howard Goldblatt (Balestier)
- Can Xue, Purple Perilla, tr. Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping (Common Era Inc.)
- Chang Kuo-Li, The Sniper, trans. from the Chinese by Roddy Flagg (Spiderline)
- Queer Taiwanese Literature: A Reader, edited by Howard Chiang, translators unnamed (Cambria)
- Liu Zhenyun, Strange Bedfellows, tr. Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin (Cambria)
Science Fiction, Fantasy and Martial Arts fiction
- Chen Qiufan (Stanley Chan), AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future, tr. Emily Jin (Virgin Digital/WH Allen)
- Chi Ta-wei, The Membranes, tr. Ari Larissa Heinrich (Columbia UP)
- Hao Jingfang, Vagabonds, tr. Ken Liu (Gallery/Saga Press)
- Jin Yong, A Heart Divided (Legends of the Condor Heroes 4), tr. Gigi Chang and Shelly Bryant (Maclehose)
- Liu Cixin, The Wandering Earth, tr. Christophe Bec, Stefano Raffaele, S. Qiouyi Lu (Talos Press)
- MXTX, The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System Vol. 1, tr. Faelicy and Lily (Seven Seas)
- Various authors, The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories, editors, Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang, various translators (Tor)
- Sinopticon 2021: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction, tr. Xueting Christine Ni (Solaris)
- Ai Weiwei, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows, tr. Allan Barr (PenguinRandomHouse)
- Cai Chongda, Vessel: A Memoir, tr. Dylan Levi King (Harper Collins)
- Mo Yan, Mo Yan Speaks: Lectures and Speeches by the Nobel Laureate from China, tr. Xu Shiyan (Cambria)
- Leo Ou-fan Lee and Lee Yuk Ying, Ordinary Days: A Memoir, tr. Annie Ren Luman and Carol Ong, ed. John Minford (The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press)
- Li Juan, Winter Pasture, tr. Jack Hargreaves and Yan Yan (Astra)
- Li Juan, Distant Sunflower Fields, tr. Christopher Payne (Sinoist)
- Liang Hong, China in One Village, the Story of One Town and the Changing World, tr. Emily Goedde (Verso)
- Shen Yang, More Than One Child: Memoirs of an Illegal Daughter, tr. Nicky Harman, (Balestier)
- Su Tong, Open Air Cinema, Reminiscences and Micro-essays, Tr. Haiwang Yuan, James Trapp, Nicky Harman, Olivia Milburn (Sinoist)
- Various, Writing in Difficult Times: A Bilingual Essay Anthology, tr. Mary King Bradley, Kate Costello, Ernest Ip, ed. Nicholas Wong and Li Mei Ting (Cart Noodles, HK)
- Yang Jisheng, The World Turned Upside Down: A History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, tr. Stacy Mosher, Jian Guo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Duo Duo, Words as Grain, tr. Lucas Klein (Yale UP)
- Li Bai an Du Fu in Scots, Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds, tr. Brian Holton (Taproot Press)
- Ma Yan, I Name Him Me: Selected Poems, tr. Stephen Nashef (Ugly Duckling)
- Shang Qin, The All-Seeing Eye: Collected Poems, tr. John Balcom (Cambria)
- Wang Yin, Ghosts City Sea, tr. Andrea Lingenfelter (Seaweed Salad)
- Yan An, A Naturalist's Manor, tr. Chen Du and Xisheng Chen (Chax)
- Yu Xiuhua, Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm, Poems and Essays, tr. Fiona Sze-Lorrain (Astra)
- Song Lin, The Gleaner Song, Collected Poems, tr. Dong Li (Giramondo, Australia, and Deep Vellum, USA)
- Various poets, Mirrors and Windows, ed. and tr. Anna Yin (Guernica)
- Wei Yu-Chia, A Fable For Now, tr. Jeremy Tiang (Laertes Books)
- Chen Jiatong, White Fox in the Forest, tr. Jennifer Feeley (Chicken House Books)
- Peng Xuejun, Mud Paws, tr. Scott Rainen (Prunus)
- Julia Liu, Leilong the Library Bus, illus. Bei Lynn (Gecko Press)
- Wang Yage, Playing with Lanterns, tr. Helen Wang, illus. Zhu Chengliang (Amazon Crossing)
- Cao Wenxuan, Dragonfly Eyes, tr. Helen Wang (Walker Books)
- Xue Tao, September's Frozen River, tr. Kyle Anderson (China Translation Publishing House)
- Yang Hongying, The Adventures of the Silly Pig, tr. Kyle Anderson (China Translation Publishing House)
Children's picture books, published by Reycraft 2021
CCPPG = Translation provided by China Children’s Press and Publication Group Co., Ltd.
- I Love You, by Shige Chen, illus. Pia Valentinis and Mario Onnis, tr. LeeAnn Geiberger (Reycraft, 2021)
- Gray Bunny’s Great Adventure, by Ping Yi, illus. Zhenjun Liu, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- I Want To…, by Hongbo Gao, illus. Sixin Cheng, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- The Second Race of Rabbit and Tortoise, by Dan Luo, illus. Jie Huang, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft Books, 2021)
- A Summer Night Concert, by Xiren Tong, illus. Sixin Cheng, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- Chick, Chick, Peep, Peep, Peep, by Xiao Mao, illus. Hisana Sawada, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- Oil-paper Umbrella, by Lu Xu, illus. Anastasia Arkhipova, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- The Story of Morin Khuur, by Baoerji Yuanye, illus. Guituzi, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- Look at you! Look at the mess you made!, by Hsu-Kung Liu, tr. Les Gouttes Press (Reycraft, 2021)
- Home, by Lian-En Lin, tr. Papa Publishing House/Yes Creative Ltd (Reycraft, 2021)
- Grandpa and Me, by Lu Xu, illus. Javier Zabala, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- Across the River, by Tao Xue, illus. Anastasia Arkhipova, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- The Little Car, by Xu Han, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- Raining, by Pingping Xu, illus. Graça Lima, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- Once Upon a Time There Was an Elephant, by Shige Chen, illus. Yinzhi Qin, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- My Dragon Boat Festival, by Bing Ge, illus. Li Li, tr. CCPPG (Reycraft, 2021)
- Lemon Butterfly, by Cao Wenxuan, illus. Roger Mello (Reycraft, 2021)
Translators from Chinese into other languages have of course been busy as well. We are delighted to list the following links. Please add other links and languages in Comments below, and we will include them here.
Chinese to Dutch translations, listed at Verretaal.
Chinese to Spanish translations (published in Spain but not Latin America) listed here. It includes books translated into Galician, Catalan and Basque too.
Chinese to Swedish translations listed here, although Blogger may not be accessible in China.
Chinese to French translations listed here.
I want to put in a good word for:
Yun Ji, translated by Yi Izzy Yu and John Yu Branscum, The Shadow Book of Ji Yun: The Chinese Classic of Weird True Tales, Horror Stories, and Occult Knowledge (Empress Wu Books (June 7, 2021)
Despite what the title might suggest, the book is not simply period genre fiction. The author, Ji Yun (1724–1805), was a renowned scholar of the mid-Qing period and, though a Confucianist, was attracted to Taoist thought. The translation is well curated (the original work(s) included over 1000 stories) and very fresh and readable, and while some of the stories are more engrossing than others, all are interesting and thoughtful.
John Armstrong, December 16, 2021, 4:19p.m.
And some additions from Cambria Press:
From Rural China to the Ivy League: Reminiscences of Transformations in Modern Chinese History by Yü Ying-shih, translated by Michael S. Duke and Josephine Chiiu-Duke https://www.cambriapress.com/YuYing-shih
Strange Bedfellows (translation of 吃瓜时代的儿女们) by Liu Zhenyun (trans. Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin) https://www.cambriapress.com/LiuZhenyunStrangeBedfellows
A Son of Taiwan: Stories of Government Atrocity translated and edited by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin https://www.cambriapress.com/SonofTaiwan
Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror translated and edited by Ian Rowen https://www.cambriapress.com/TransitionsTaiwan
The Soul of Jade Mountain by Husluman Vava, translated by Terence Russell https://www.cambriapress.com/HuslumanVava
A Taiwanese Literature Reader edited by Nikky Lin https://www.cambriapress.com/TaiwanLiteratureReader/
Nicky Harman, December 18, 2021, 4:21p.m.
I noticed that Scum Villain by MXTX made it onto the list and was wondering what’s everyone’s opinion on unlicensed fan translations? Do you support the business model of publishers buying ready-made amateur translations (probably at a fairly low price for the size of the novel)? What are your thoughts on the translation quality and copyright implications for the industry? Where will this leave pro-translators if the business model takes off?
For context, EN translations of the 3 MXTX books existed as unlicensed (free) fan translations before Seven Seas decided to capitalise on MXTX’s overseas popularity and purchase the official licence to publish them.
I see both pros and cons in the new business model, especially since some of these webnovels are so long that it’s not commercially viable to publish their translations in any other way. But I’m interested in what others in the pro-translator and publisher community think of the potential future trend.
JS, December 20, 2021, 10:46a.m.
Personally I don't see a very clear distinction between "pro translator" and "someone who did a translation and then had it picked up by a publishing house". I feel like both of those labels apply perfectly well to myself, for instance :)
It's definitely an unusual situation for the translation to be publicly, freely available prior to the publisher picking it up, but that's really the publisher's gamble, and the publisher's risk, not the translator's.
No matter how the translation comes to market, one of the most important services a publisher can provide is editing. Everyone needs editing, from "pros" to "amateurs". I would hope that Seven Seas is providing that service, that its value would be evident in a before-and-after comparison of the texts, and that that might lead to more readers and more sales for the new publication.
People often point out that readers are far more tolerant of poor translations when it comes to genre fiction. I don't know how true that is, and also don't know how much it matters.
Anyway, I sidetracked myself a little bit there -- all I wanted to say is that I don't see anything wrong with this model, and don't think anyone should feel threatened by it.
Eric Abrahamsen, December 20, 2021, 7:18p.m.
Hello, first I'd like to add a book that I translated on the list: "Vulpecula's Love Letter: Farewell at the Galaxy" by Yaya that was published in January by Peach Flower House LLC. The same publisher also published volumes 1 and 2 of "In the Dark" by Jin Shisi Chai in September and December, another novel that falls under the similar Danmei category as the MXTX novels: https://www.peachflowerhouse.com/titles
I'd like to add my two cents regarding the new industry model with webnovel and genre fiction as well. I see both pros and cons of having free content available before publication, and this is a case that mirrored the earlier Japanese manga industry 10 to 20 years ago, when pirate scanlations were more rampant and easily accessible than official distribution of English licenses. In terms of legalities, I think that is something publishers need to work out as risks for future titles.
I have taken a peek at the official publications from Seven Seas and unfortunately, it does feel that editorial support is lacking with some obvious mistranslation in place, and the glossary included some misinformation about Chinese culture. I am worried that the publisher is not putting enough effort into the editing and production aspect of these novels from what I have seen so far, which I'm sure they have the resources to execute from their previous experience in manga and light novel publishing. As someone who was looking forward to the novels I am quite saddened by this fact and I do hope Seven Seas can improve on this aspect.
LH, December 27, 2021, 7:24a.m.
Just a supplement to #1: Ji Yun, a.k.a. Ji Xiaolan was a high-ranking government official and was in charge of the compilation of the Siku quanshu, one of the largest encyclopedic projects ever. He was also popularized by Zhang Guoli’s brilliant portrayal of him in the comedic tv series Tiechi tongya Ji Xiaolan (The Razor-Sharp Wit Ji Xiaolan) for four seasons starting in 2002. It sounds like this is a translation of at least parts of his collection of biji called Yuewei caotang biji.
Charles Laughlin, December 31, 2021, 6:05a.m.