Nicky Harman

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Nicky Harman lives in the UK. She translates full-time from Chinese, focussing on contemporary fiction, literary non-fiction, and occasionally poetry, by a wide variety of authors. When not translating, she spends time promoting contemporary Chinese fiction to English-language readers. She works for, a non-profit registered in the UK, where she is also a trustee. She writes blogs (for instance Asian Books Blog), give talks and lectures, and takes part in literary events and festivals, especially with the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing. She also mentors new translators, teaches summer schools (Norwich, London, Warwick and Bristol), and judges translation competitions. She tweets, with Helen Wang, as the China Fiction Bookclub @cfbcuk.

She taught on the MSc in Translation at Imperial College until 2011 and was co-Chair of the Translators Association (Society of Authors) 2014-2017.

Winner of the 2020 Special Book Award of China; the 2015 Mao Tai Cup People's Literature Chinese-English translation prize; and of first prize in the 2013 China International Translation Contest, Chinese-to-English section, with Jia Pingwa’s "Backflow River", 倒流河

Forthcoming: I Want to be Good (《我要做好孩子》) , Huang Beijia, GBD Books India (and forthcoming UK edition)
Wake Me Up at Nine in the Morning, (《早上九点叫醒我》), A Yi, Oneworld
Shaanxi Opera, (《秦腔》), Jia Pingwa, Amazon Crossing

2020 publications:

Oriental Silk, by Zhu Xiaowen, Hatje Cantz (Germany)

2019 publications:

Broken Wings, By Jia Pingwa, ACA Publishing

2018 publications:

The Chilli Bean Paste Clan, by Yan Ge, Balestier Press (awarded a PEN Translates grant)

Our Story: A Memoir of Love and Life in China, by Rao Pingru, Knopf Doubleday (awarded a PEN Translates grant)

2017 publications:

Jia Pingwa, Happy Dreams, Amazon Crossing, 2017.

Fish Tank Creatures, by Dorothy Tse, short story, translated with Natascha Bruce

2016 publications:

Crystal Wedding, novel by Xu Xiaobin, Balestier Press, 2016 (awarded a PEN Translates grant)

2015 publications:

Paper Tiger, essays by Xu Zhiyuan, co-translated with Michelle Deeter, Head of Zeus, 2015 (awarded a PEN Translates grant).
Sissy Zhong by Yan Ge, published READ PAPER REPUBLIC.
January:Bridges, by Dorothy Tse, published READ PAPER REPUBLIC. The translation and editing of this story is discussed and illustrated here: Free Word Centre.

Also, 2015-2016, READ PAPER REPUBLIC short story series: launching, planning, translating, editing, promotion and publicity.

2014 publications:

The Book of Sins by Chen Xiwo published by FortySix, October 2014.

White Horse, novella by Yan Ge, Hope Road Publishing, October 2014.

A Tabby-cat's Tale by Han Dong, winter 2014.

The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver by Chan Koon-chung, Doubleday, April 2014.

Snow and Shadow, short story collection by Dorothy Tse, East Slope Publishing, March 2014.

A New Development Model and China’s Future, by Deng Yingtao, Routledge, March, 2014.

The Stone Ox that Grazed, short story by Sun Yisheng in Asymptote, April 2014.

A Loud Noise, poems by Han Dong, March 2014.

Other Published Translations in date order:

Urban Control and the Modernist City - essay by Leung Man-Tao, in LA Review of Books, originally appeared in Paper Republic, August 2013.

Woman Fish, by Dorothy Tse, for the Guardian newspaper, March 2013

The Shades who Periscope through Flowers to the Sky, by Sun Yisheng, for Words Without Borders, December 2012, and Dad, Your Name is Bao Tian, by Sun Yisheng, for The World of Chinese, March 2013.

Old Man Xinjiang, by Xue Mo, in China Stories for the Guardian newspaper, April 2012.

The Man with the Knife by Chen Xiwo, for Words Without Borders, November 2012

'Goodbye to Anne', in the novella collection The Road of Others, by Anni Baobei, Makedo Publishing, 2012.

Throwing out the Baby, by Xu Zechen, in Words Without Border, April 2012.

Shi Cheng: Short Stories from Urban China, Comma Press "Tales from Ten Cities" series, the two by Han Dong and Ding Liying, 2012

Flowers of Nanjing by Yan Geling, , published by Chatto and Windus, January 2012

A Phone Call from Dalian: Selected Poems by Han Dong, published by Zephyr Press, April 2012. Multiple reviews including World Literature Today and Peony Moon

The Eye of the Eagle, short story by Bai Hua, published by Hope Road Publishing

Prize-winning novel Gold Mountain Blues/Jin Shan by Zhang Ling, published by Penguin Canada

Short stories for Ou Ning's Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, 2009, and literary magazine Chutzpah, 2010 and 2011.

Message from Unknown Chinese Mothers (Author: Xinran), Chatto & Windus, 2010.

China Witness (author: Xinran), oral history Co-translator with Esther Tyldesley and Julia Lovell. Chatto & Windus , 2008.

Banished! (author: Han Dong) (《扎根》 韩东), novel. University of Hawai’i Press, 2009. Won a PEN Translation Fund Award (2006) for this work. Longlisted for Man Asian Literary Prize, 2008.

‘Long Corridor, Short Song’ (author: Zi Ren, in To Pierce the Material Screen: An Anthology of 20th Century HK Literature, to be pub. Renditions, Hong Kong 2008); (《长廊的短调》 梓人) short story.

China Along the Yellow River (author: Prof. Cao Jinqing, pub. Routledge Curzon, December 2004); (《黄河边的中国》 曹锦清) sociology of rural China.

K – The Art of Love (author: Hong Ying, pub. Marion Boyars, 2002); (K 虹影) novel.

Research publications:

Li Hao: Translation of Contemporary Chinese Literature in the English-speaking World: An Interview with Nicky Harman, The AALITRA Review, No 4 (2012)

What's that got to do with anything? Coherence and the translation of relative clauses from Chinese. In Journal of Specialised Translation ( issue 13, January 2010

Foreign Culture, Foreign Style: a Translator’s View of Modern Chinese Fiction. In Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 14(1): 13-31. (2006).

Beyond Paper Dictionaries: Mining the Web for Technical Terminology in Chinese (available from, or on request from NH).

Visiting Fellow at the Research Centre for Translation at Chinese University Hong Kong, April 2006. Visiting Scholar, Fudan University and Beijing University, China, 2008.

Nicky Harman translated for READ PAPER REPUBLIC, week 3, 2 July 2015, and READ PAPER REPUBLIC, week 10, 20 August 2015.


Read Now: On Paper Republic

View from a Window by Han Dong April 16, 2020
Hide! Hide! Hide! by Yan Geling March 28, 2020
Letter to My Mother by Ou Ning October 04, 2018
Dad Your Name is Field-Keeper by Sun Yisheng February 04, 2017
Gu Jieming – a Life by Han Dong June 09, 2016
The Bathtub – Scene of a Struggle by Han Dong May 12, 2016
Snow by Xu Xiaobin tr. Natascha Bruce and Nicky Harman March 24, 2016
That Damned Thing She Said by Fu Yuli March 03, 2016
Backflow River by Jia Pingwa February 25, 2016
Apery by Sun Yisheng January 28, 2016
The Cry of the Deer by Han Dong January 21, 2016
Sissy Zhong by Yan Ge August 20, 2015
January: Bridges by Dorothy (Hiu Hung) Tse July 02, 2015

Read Now: Around the Web

The Cry of the Deer by Han Dong Pathlight: New Chinese Writing
Mother Earth (excerpt) by Chiu Zu-Yin Books from Taiwan
Free! by Wang Bang Words Without Borders
Old Man Xinjiang by Xue Mo The Guardian

Book Publications

Broken Wings cover

Broken Wings

Jia Pingwa

May 03, 2019

The Chilli Bean Paste Clan cover

The Chilli Bean Paste Clan

Yan Ge

May 01, 2018

Happy Dreams cover

Happy Dreams

Jia Pingwa

October 01, 2017

Crystal Wedding cover

Crystal Wedding

Xu Xiaobin

January 01, 2016

White Horse cover

White Horse

Yan Ge

March 01, 2014

Gold Mountain Blues cover

Gold Mountain Blues

Zhang Ling

March 01, 2012

K: The Art of Love cover

K: The Art of Love

Hong Ying | Nicky Harman and Henry Y.H. Zhao

June 15, 2004

Original Works

Non-fiction (1)

All Translations

Poem (27)

Short story (37)

Novella (1)

Novel (13)

Essay (3)

Non-fiction (2)

Graphic novel (1)

Excerpt (2)

The Paper Republic database exists for reference purposes only. We are not the publisher of these works, are not responsible for their contents, and cannot provide digital or paper copies.


Another upcoming translation event in London

By Nicky Harman, September 9, '11

Book Club Fest

Love reading? Enjoy talking about books with other people? Interested in other countries? Come and join us for an evening of reading foreign stories in translation from countries including China, Mexico and Sweden. VENUE: Free Word Centre, Wednesday 21 September 2011 6.30 – 8.30pm. How it works: Register online and we’ll email you all the texts as PDFs. Read the stories, then when you arrive at Free Word on the night you’ll receive a printout of them all, plus a free glass of wine. There’s 1 room, lots of book clubs, lots of short stories, and lots of book-lovers. Join a group, take part in the discussion, move around when the bell rings, then all come together at the end and share your thoughts!

Free, but registration essential


London Literary Event

By Nicky Harman, July 25, '11

Chinese Fables
Bi Feiyu and Chan Koonchung
23rd August at 6:30pm
Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA   We’re delighted to bring two of China’s most respected and controversial authors together in this unique event at the Free Word Centre. Bi Feiyu won this year’s Man Asian Literary Prize for his masterful novel Three Sisters. The author was due to visit the UK last year to promote his book – an epic portrayal of contemporary Chinese culture – but was caught in visa bureaucracy. Chan Koonchung’s political fable The Fat Years, banned in China, will be available in English in July 2011.   Join these two fascinating writers as they discuss fables, families – and fat years – with critic Lucy Popescu (author of The Good Tourist). In association with Telegram Books and Transworld Publishers.   Booking details: or call 0207 3242 570
Tickets: £5 (£3 PEN members/concessions)

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China Fiction Book Club in London

By Nicky Harman, February 25, '11

By Yu Yan Chen

China Fiction Book Club is a gathering of kindred spirits bonded together by the love for Chinese language and literature. Over tea and snacks, members meet about once every two months to translate a piece of contemporary Chinese literature into English. Our first meeting in autumn 2010 took place at an elegant café near SOAS, but our next meeting on 16 March from 6:00 to 8:00 will be held at RADA.


Quality Non–Fiction in the Digital Age, Amsterdam Conference 2011

By Nicky Harman, February 1, '11

Fish out of water? Lone voice crying in the wilderness? (well, alright, in the Quality Non–Fiction in the Digital Age conference). At the start, I was a little unsure about what role I, as the sole translator–speaker, was going to play at a conference largely attended by international publishers. Though I wasn’t the only one of a kind. There was a philosopher, Jos de Mul, reminding us that the invention of writing in the New Stone Age was just a way of outsourcing memory! And computers in the New New Stone Age (that’s now) are a way of outsourcing thinking…

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How to make your new book headline news

By Nicky Harman, October 4, '10

Jonathan Franzen's book Freedom suffers UK recall: More than 8,000 copies of the American author's latest opus have been recalled due to hundreds of typesetting errors. This has been headline news in the UK for the past two days. That's unheard-of for any novel except perhaps Harry Potter. Now how about this for a great way to launch one of those translations some of us are busy working on: ooops, it comes out only half-translated, or with an eye-catching English cover and all in Chinese inside?! OK, I was just joking. But then again........


Han Han …listed as a global figure

By Nicky Harman, September 28, '10

New Statesman, the British socialist weekly magazine, includes Han Han, writer, racing–driver and blogger, at number 48 in its list this week of 50 People who matter 2010. The rest are an eclectic group of the world’s great, the good and the not so good…About a quarter of them are women, only one of whom, Angela Merkel, is in the top ten. There’s one other Chinese, Xi Jinping, at number 4 (up from 10 last year).

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Mentoring scheme for literary translators hits the ground running

By Nicky Harman, August 17, '10

from Danny Hahn, Translators Association, London

For some time those of us at the (British) Translators Association have been discussing the possibility of setting up a mentoring scheme, as a way of allowing emerging translators to benefit from the experience of their more experienced colleagues. Mentoring does of course happen informally all the time – translators are a benign, helpful bunch on the whole, after all – but we wanted something more formal, something that the emerging translator could rely on for a set period of time, and which would also involve a modest fee to recognise the mentor’s time. And thanks to the generosity of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation we are delighted to have secured funds to make this happen at last.

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Eric Abrahamsen to translate Gongwuyuan Biji/Notes of a civil servant

By Nicky Harman, July 28, '10

It's been a good year for Chinese to English translation, and it's getting better. Eric Abrahamsen is to translate Wang Xiaofang's well-known novel on official corruption in China, working title Notes of a civil servant. The publisher is Penguin and the book is due out in 2011. Eric needs no introduction, since he is the founder and driving force behind Paper Republic. Great news, Eric!