It’s been a good year for Chinese fiction in English.

By Nicky Harman, published

I make it a total of nineteen books. OK, I’ve cheated a bit – three of the publications below are poetry, and two others come out in January 2013. Still, it’s a good haul and many times better than the annual total, say, ten years ago. (Please post a comment if I’ve missed anyone out.) I couldn’t begin to add up just how many hours of translation the whole list represents, and that’s without the extra work translators have put in, on some of these books, to get them off the ground. So, lets raise a glass to translation and all pat ourselves on the back!

In alphabetical order, this year’s publications from Chinese are:

A Phone Call from Dalian, by Han Dong, tr. Nicky Harman and others (Zephyr Press)
An Unusual Princess, by Wu Meizhen, tr. Petula Parris-Huang (Egmont UK)
China in 10 Words, Yu Hua, tr. Allan Barr (Random House)
Dream of Ding Village, Yan Lianke, tr. Cindy Carter (Constable)
Flowers of War, by Geling Yan, tr. Nicky Harman (Chatto & Windus)
Hanging Devils, by He Jiahong, tr. Duncan Hewitt (Penguin China/Australia)
I Love My Mum, by Chen Xiwo, tr. Harvey Thomlinson (Make Do Publishing)
Jackal and Wolf, by Shen Shixi, tr. Helen Wang (Egmont UK)
Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, tr. W.N. Herbert, Yang Lian, Brian Holton and Qin Xiaoyu (Bloodaxe Books)
Last quarter of the Moon, Chi Zijian tr. Bruce Humes, Jan 2013 (Harvill Secker)
Lenin's Kisses by Yan Lianke tr. Carlos Rojas (Chatto & Windus)
Northern Girls, by Sheng Keyi, tr. Shelley Bryant (Penguin China/Australia)
Notes on the Mosquito, Poems of Xi Chuan, tr. Lucas Klein (New Directions Publishing)
Pai Hua Zi and the Clever Girl, by Zhang Xinxin, tr. Helen Wang (
Sandalwood Death, Mo Yan, tr. Howard Goldblatt, Jan 2013 ( University of Oklahoma Press)
Shi Cheng: Short Stories from Urban China, various authors and translators (Comma Press)
The Civil Servant’s Notebook, by Wang Xiaofang, tr. Eric Abrahamsen (Penguin China/Australia)
The Road of Others, by Anni Baobei, tr. Nicky Harman (Make Do Publishing)
This Generation: Dispatches from China's Most Popular Literary Star (and Race Car Driver) Han Han tr. Allan Barr (Simon & Schuster)
Under the Hawthorn Tree, by Ai Mi, tr. Anna Holmwood (Virago Press)

PS On Twitter, @cfbcuk (that’s the China Fiction Book Club) has posted each one with review links, tagged ‪#abook4xmas.


# 1.   

No one's commented that I can't add's 20!

nicky harman, December 20, 2012, 4:39p.m.

# 2.   

Steve Woodward @snwood has tweeted that @cfbcuk missed Liu Xiaobo's poetry book JUNE 4TH ELEGIES, translated by Jeffrey Yang, published by @GraywolfPress Thanks, Steve! And remember, these are the books - lots of short stories/novellas have been translated too.

Helen Wang, December 20, 2012, 10:06p.m.

# 3.   

Zephyr Press, named for Han Dong's A Phone Call from Dalian, above, has published several other books of contemporary Chinese poetry this year, as part of the Jintian series:
DOUBLED SHADOWS, Ouyang Jianghe, tr. Austin Woerner
THE CHANGING ROOM, Zhai Yongming, tr. Andrea Lingenfelter
WIND SAYS, Bai Hua, tr. Fiona Sze-Lorrain
STONE CELL, Lo Fu, tr. John Balcom

Lucas Klein, December 21, 2012, 2:23a.m.

# 4.   

The release of Ye Guangqin's Greenwood Riverside was announced here in July, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere.

I remember the Chen Xiwo book as a 2010 publication.

jdmartinsen, December 21, 2012, 2:24a.m.

# 5.   

Into the database with them!

Eric Abrahamsen, December 21, 2012, 11:39a.m.

# 6.   

This is good news, and I hope Eric will launch a regularly updated list that contains the following fields:

*** Title of the English translation underway or published in 2013

*** Title of the Chinese work that has been translated

*** Translator's name

*** Publisher

This list could be accessible under the "Explore" rubric on Paper Republic's Home Page, featured on the Home Page every so often, and its (occasional) newsletter.

Frankly, I am not at all surprised at the news of the "boom" in Chinese-to-English literary translations being published. I foresaw it when China was named "Guest Country" (or whatever it's called) at the Frankfurt Int'l Book Fair.

The fall of the Soviet Union didn't foreshadow the immediate end of Cold War thinking in the cultural sphere, and it was predictable that when Western publishers actually met Chinese publishers and authors -- and discovered they were businesspeople and human beings in their own right -- translation contracts would result.

Despite Lucas Klein's (consistent) arguments to the contrary, I maintain that worldwide English-language publishing of Chinese literature is the trend,and Three Percent's US-centric, hard-copy-only database no longer tells the whole story.

Bruce, December 22, 2012, 11:46p.m.

# 7.   


Explain to me why including books of poetry is "cheating"?

Canaan Morse, December 23, 2012, 12:37a.m.

# 8.   

My guess is that poetry is "cheating" because the title of the post refers to "Chinese fiction in English." Of course, it could have been written "Chinese Literature in English."

Also, my point has never been that worldwide English-language publishing isn't the trend, but that national publishing boundaries still matter. There's only one bookshelf you can find my books on in Hongkong, and it's in my apartment.

Lucas Klein, December 23, 2012, 3a.m.

# 9.   

Great list, would love to see it become an annual thing, but China in Ten Words came out in 2011, at least in the U.S. Had to double check, as I liked it so much that if I'd misremembered, I'd have had to redo my "favorite China book of 2012" assessments. Still, the main point is important: a much wider array of translations, many very engagingly done, are coming out.

Jeff Wasserstrom, December 26, 2012, 7:39p.m.

# 10.   

John Balcom has translated 无风之树 by Li Rui 李锐 as Trees Without Wind, published Dec. 2012 by CUP. It's favorably reviewed at The Complete Review, although the reviewer doesn't remark on the translation (or mention the novel's close resemblance to As I Lay Dying).

jdmartinsen, December 31, 2012, 3:15a.m.

# 11.   

Also (how could I forget?), Columbia University Press has published Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City, by Hong Kong writer Dung Kai-cheung 董啓章, translated by the author with Bonnie McDougall and her husband Anders Hansson. My review is forthcoming in the next issue of Rain Taxi online.


Lucas Klein, December 31, 2012, 6:20a.m.

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