Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

Eric Abrahamsen (1978 – )

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Eric lived in Beijing from late 2001, when he studied Chinese at the Central University for Nationalities, until the end of 2016. He began struggling through Wang Xiaobo at an early date, and kept at it through the intervening years. He is the recipient of a PEN translation grant for Wang Xiaobo's My Spiritual Homeland and a NEA grant for Xu Zechen's Running Through Zhongguancun, later published as Running Through Beijing, which was shortlisted for the National Translation Award.

His short-story translations have appeared in magazines including The New Yorker, Granta, and n+1. He also writes occasional cultural criticism, which has appeared in the New York Times and Foreign Policy, among other venues.

 

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Translations

Novels (2)

Essays (2)

Short stories (17)

As Editor

Posts

We're a Charity!

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 3, '19

Paper Republic has been through several incarnations during our twelve years of operation – from the early days of translators drinking cheap beer in Beijing, to the brainstorming session in the back room of the Beijing Bookworm where we came up with the name “Paper Republic”, to the first dog-slow Wordpress site. We started off as a place for translators to talk to each other, and soon transitioned into a platform for helping people learn about Chinese literature.

Over those twelve years we’ve done a whole lot of different stuff, almost all on a volunteer basis. Literature database; translation services; thought-provoking blog posts; online reading; magazine production; literary agency; publishing consulting; publishing fellowship; literary festivals. At some point we started feeling a little dizzy, and it seemed increasingly important to regroup a bit according to our original goals: to bring the best works of Chinese literature into English; to support emerging translators; and to maintain the internet’s best resource for Chinese literature.

We realized that these goals are essentially non-profit in nature, and that it didn't make much sense to try to run Paper Republic as a regular company. The solution: to register as a non-profit! More specifically, as a Charitable Incorporated Organization, based in the UK.

We set up the charity this year. We have a great group of trustees who oversee what we do and bring us the benefit of their experience, and our management team continues to work on projects, mostly as volunteers. You can see a little more background at our about page, and meet the gang here. If you’d like to support us via Paypal, we’d be thrilled.

Meanwhile, a few of our more commercially-oriented projects – Pathlight magazine, publishing consulting, and literary agency – will go to a US company we’re calling Coal Hill Books. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Lastly, if you’re in London, watch this space for an announcement of a launch party, with wine and books and balloons and all other things necessary for a literary get-together. We hope you’ll join us and celebrate!

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Job Posting: Pathlight Managing Editor

By Eric Abrahamsen, January 23, '18

Pathlight Magazine, a Paper Republic publication, is looking for a new Managing Editor!

The position is about half time (though sometimes busier than others), and based in Beijing. You will be working together (mostly remotely) with Paper Republic editors, and with People’s Literature Magazine, our Chinese partners. Responsibilities include:

  1. Keeping the magazine to a quarterly publication schedule.
  2. Working with Paper Republic and People’s Literature to collectively choose a theme and a table of contents for each issue.
  3. Assigning and collecting translations.
  4. Editing translations, or assigning editing work to other editors.
  5. Doing social media promotion.

We’ll provide translator and editor resources, and help connect you with everyone you need to talk to.

Salary is paid per issue, and is competitive.

Our ideal candidate:

  1. Is in Beijing.
  2. Is a Chinese => English translator. One of the strengths of Pathlight is that our translations are edited by translators.
  3. Is organized, and not afraid to crack the whip.
  4. Is conversant with contemporary Chinese fiction and poetry.
  5. Has some familiarity with digital publishing, including using InDesign and manipulating epub files.
  6. Has a bit of experience dealing with Chinese government-owned institutions.
  7. Would be available to start in the next couple months.

Interested parties please email info@paper-republic.org.

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Suggestions for Our Database

By Eric Abrahamsen, January 16, '18

Spurred by Three Percent's new searchable database of translations, in particular the ability to add new or missing titles, I've finally gotten around to finishing the first version of a similar "suggestions" function for the Paper Republic database of translated Chinese literature.

You can find the "Suggest an addition" link on the left-hand side of the PR pages, or follow this link directly. Right now it's limited to suggesting works of literature (though there's a write-in field for authors who aren't in the database), but I hope to eventually expand the options. If you're adding new works of literature to the database, please remember that Chinese originals and English translations have equal standing, so make two suggestions.

And thanks! If you have any suggestions about the suggestion (meta-suggestions!), please leave them in comments on this post.

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GLLI (18) - Chinese Literature Prizes - by Chen Dongmei

By Eric Abrahamsen, February 18, '17

China's domestic literary prizes are often viewed with uncertainty from abroad: Who runs them? Are they trustworthy? How are the different prizes specialized? Which should we be paying attention to? We've asked Chen Dongmei, who usually exerts her influence behind the scenes, to step forward and give us a rundown of prizes for adult and children's literature, to try to shed some light on these questions.

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GLLI (11) - Ken Liu on Chinese Science Fiction

By Eric Abrahamsen, February 11, '17

The following post, part of our Global Literature in Libraries Initiative series, is an email interview with Ken Liu, author and translator of science fiction. Apart from his own fiction Ken is best known around here as the translator of volumes I and III of the Three Body Problem, together with Joel Martinsen, and Clarkesworld magazine's in-depth interest in Chinese science fiction. We talked to him about what Chinese sci-fi has to offer -- take a look!**

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Zhang Lijia Author Talk: Lotus at NY Barnes & Noble

By Eric Abrahamsen, February 1, '17

Zhang Lijia, author of Socialism is Great!, is talking about her first novel, Lotus, February 1 7pm at the NY Barnes & Noble, 82nd and Broadway. See this link for more information, and stop by if you're in town!

From the event blurb: Inspired by the secret life of author Lijia Zhang's grandmother, Lotus follows a young woman torn between past traditions and modern desires as she carves out a life for herself in China's "City of Sins." This perceptive, sensitive novel examines what it means to be an individual in a society that praises restraint in and obedience from its women.

lotus cover

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Three Chances to See Ge Fei in New York

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 6, '16

Ge Fei's new English novel, The Invisibility Cloak, translated by our own Canaan Morse, is out next week, published by The New York Review of Books Press next week. Ge Fei is visiting the Big Apple and environs, and those of you in Manhattan or Brooklyn have three chances to see him talk about his new book!

  1. The first event is at Columbia University on October 12th (Wednesday) starting at 4pm, where Ge Fei will be joined by Canaan to discuss the book.

  2. Then later that evening (October 12th, 7pm) Ge Fei appears at the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, in conversation with Michael Barron.

  3. Lastly, he'll be at the China Institute on the 13th (Thursday) at 6:30pm, with Zhang Xudong.

If you're in town, take the opportunity to see Ge Fei talk! He's a great writer, a great big brain, and a wonderful speaker.

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Redesign

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 3, '16

We've got a new look! With thanks to Sun Xiaoxi, the designer behind the 2015 BIBF look. 21st century, here we come!

It's possible that people using truly ancient versions of Internet Explorer might have some difficulties – please let me know in the comments.

Meanwhile, this will be a good starting place from which to start working on better entry points to the database. A nice winter project...

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PEN Presents Open for Submissions

By Eric Abrahamsen, September 23, '16

English PEN has this program called "PEN Presents", where they provide translators with funding to promote books they want to translate, and this year they're accepting applications from East and South-East Asia. From their announcement

PEN Presents aims to help publishers to discover – and publish – the most exciting books from around the world, whilst supporting emerging translators in their development as advocates for international literature. Each year the initiative presents six exciting books by contemporary authors, recommended by literary translators, which have not yet been acquired for English-language publication. Each round of PEN Presents focusses on a different region of the world.

They're working with the Asia Literary Review for this year's program – see this link for application instructions. The deadline is December 5, 2016.

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BIBF Literary Salons: Midpoint

By Eric Abrahamsen, August 25, '16

So we're about halfway through our program of literary events surrounding the 2016 Beijing International Book Fair, which so far has been great fun. Last year, the first year Paper Republic did these "Literary Salons", we were too exhausted to post about this at all, let alone halfway through the program, so I suppose this is progress! To me, it's clear what "progress" consists of: more hands on deck. Last year it was just Dongmei and me; this year we've added Min Jie as our third PR employee, and have a team of three awesome interns, Lirong, Yutong, and Mingjun. The whole thing is much more under control, and it's possible to actually enjoy ourselves!

I'll post a few pictures below, but first a few memorable moments:

  1. Putting Alejandro Zambra, the Chilean cultural attaché, and the Chilean ambassador on a stage which, several weeks after we booked it, was turned into part of the children's book zone. The three of them discussed Chilean history and literature against a Finding Nemo backdrop, while the audience sat on colorful little squishy Tic-Tac stools. Zambra is a good sport.
  2. A cocktail party at the Beijing Bookworm. The Bookworm of course runs their international literary festival every March, a much larger and more long-running event than what we're doing here. But the two things are complimentary in spirit, and I'm really glad we were able to work together for the fun part of this week.
  3. Acting as impromptu bodyguard for Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich yesterday. Most audience members at the fairground were well-behaved, but a handful had obviously come because – hell or high water – they were going to get a Nobel laureate's signature, even if they had to tackle her. I wasn't expecting tussling to be a part of our literary festival, but hey, it was exciting.

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