Recite and Refuse review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are please to announce publication of Paul Manfredi’s review of Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry (University of Hawaii Press, 2016), by Nick Admussen. The review appears below and at: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Recite and Refuse: 
Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry

By Nick Admussen

Reviewed by Paul Manfredi
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2018)

Nick Admussen, Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2016. V-viii, 219 pp. ISBN-13: 9780824856526. Hardback: $65.00

Nick Admussen’s book Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry can be characterized in the same terms as the poetry he describes: concentrated and condensed. The book’s modest size (some 165 pages plus an appended 10-page translation) relative to its scope, however, makes it no less effective because Admussen’s prose is lucid and his arguments almost uniformly intriguing. The essential argument of the work—that prose poetry is more process than product of creation and that authors of prose poetry so identified should be understood in the context of the entire social field giving rise to their works—is comprehensively addressed. In the Afterword, which serves as something of an artistic treatise, he summarizes as follows: “Creation becomes the creation not of a product but a set of connections: the power of creation is not then ownership or mastery, but definition, consensus, the ability to fix the shape of a structure” (164). Continue reading

Yan Lianke’s forbidden satires

Source: The New Yorker (10/15/18)
Yan Lianke’s Forbidden Satires of China
How an Army propaganda writer became the country’s most controversial novelist.
By Jiayang Fan

Yan says, “The reality of China is so outrageous that it renders realism inert.” Illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi.

When the novelist Yan Lianke visits his elderly mother, which he does every two to three months, he is loath to tell anyone he’s coming. As a local boy made good, Yan is acutely aware of the hazards that accompany a publicized homecoming: having to serve as the guest of honor at interminable banquets, being the dedicatee of countless toasts. Inevitably, though, word gets out, and when, in June, I travelled with him from Beijing, where he lives with his wife and son, to Luoyang, the city nearest his ancestral village, a friend had arranged a dinner in his honor.

Luoyang, in Henan Province, is an arid backwater, but its position in the Yellow River Basin made it one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. For fifteen hundred years, from the eleventh century B.C., it was an imperial capital; on its streets, Confucius, a failed official turned itinerant sage, is said to have met Laozi, the founder of Daoism. Nowadays, Luoyang is best known for the Longmen Grottoes, where tens of thousands of Buddha statues have been carved into cliffs on the banks of the Yi River. Continue reading

LARB China Channel translations

A series of four translations of long creative non-fiction essays that first appeared in Chinese in OWMagazine 单读, have been published over the last few weeks on the LARB China Channel, translated in collaboration with Read Paper Republic.

(1) “Three Sketches of Peter Hessler”, by Wu Qi, tr Luisetta Mudie (14 Sept)
(2) “The Spices of Life”, by Yan Ge, tr Poppy Toland (21 Sept)
(3) “Letter to My Mother”, by Ou Ning, tr Nicky Harman (28 Sept)
(4) “Small Town”, by Li Jingrui, tr Helen Wang (5 Oct)

Helen Wang <>

Xi Xi wins 2019 Newman Prize

CONTACT: Jonathan Stalling at stalling@ou.eduor 405-325-6973

NORMAN, OK—An international jury has selected the Hong Kong poet Xi Xi 西西(born 1937) as the winner of the sixth Newman Prize for Chinese Literature. She is the third female Newman laureate, and the first from Hong Kong.

Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for U.S.-China Issues, the Newman Prize is awarded biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement in prose or poetry that best captures the human condition, and is conferred solely on the basis of literary merit. Any living author writing in Chinese is eligible. A jury of seven distinguished literary experts nominated seven poets this spring, and selected the winner in a transparent voting process on October 9, 2018.

Winner Xi Xi 西西(the pen name of Zhang Yan 張彥) will receive USD $10,000, a commemorative plaque, and a bronze medallion at an academic symposium and award banquet at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, on March 7–8, 2019. In addition to this year’s nominating juror, Tammy Lai-Ming Ho (Hong Kong Baptist University), other nominees and jurors include Yu Xiuhua 余秀华, nominated by Nick Admussen (Cornell University); Wang Xiaoni 王小妮, nominated by Eleanor Goodman (Fairbank Center, Harvard University); Xi Chuan 西川, nominated by Lucas Klein (University of Hong Kong); Xiao Kaiyu 萧开愚, nominated by Christopher Lupke (University of Alberta); Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼, nominated by Maghiel van Crevel (Leiden University); and Bei Dao 北岛, nominated by Wang Guangming (Capital Normal University). Continue reading

Literary tourist town

Source: SCMP (10/2/18)
Work to start soon on Chinese replica of Shakespeare’s birthplace in literary tourist town
After years of discussion, work is due to begin soon to recreate key parts of Stratford-upon-Avon in a development which will also pay homage to ‘China’s Shakespeare’ Tang Xianzu and Spain’s Miguel de Cervantes
By Laurie Chen

A long-held dream to recreate the birthplaces of English playwright William Shakespeare and his Chinese contemporary, Tang Xianzu, in one new town is set to become a reality by 2022 in southeast China.

Construction of the tourist town near Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, is expected to begin soon after the final hurdle was cleared on Friday with a contract signed between the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Britain and the Fuzhou authorities.

The new town Sanweng – which means ‘Three Masters’ – will also honour Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote the novel Don Quixote. All three died in 1616. Tang, who was born in Fuzhou, is widely regarded as China’s greatest playwright. Continue reading

Lu Xun’s ‘Diary of a Madman’ 100 years on

Source: LA Review of Books, China Channel (9/25/18)
Madness and Modernity: Lu Xun’s ‘Diary of a Madman’, 100 Years On
By Emily Baum

Editor’s note: We’re delighted to run this essay not only on the 137th birthday of Lu Xun, but on the one year anniversary of the China Channel. Thanks to all our readers, and if you enjoy our fare, please do tell a friend to follow us, or give to our translation drive to bring Chinese voices to the fore. – Alec Ash

Featured image from “Pyramide de crânes” (1901) by Paul Cézanne.

A hundred years ago, Lu Xun published a short story that would forever leave its mark on both Chinese fiction and Chinese history. ‘Diary of a Madman’ (Kuangren Riji), Lu Xun’s first vernacular short story to appear in print, was published in the May 1918 issue of New Youth (Xin Qingnian), a radical journal edited by some of China’s foremost progressive thinkers. Modeled on Nikolai Gogol’s work of the same name, the story follows an unnamed protagonist’s descent into lunacy as he convinces himself that the people around him are harboring a secret desire to “eat men” – that is, that they are complicit in a feudal cannibalistic tradition. Continue reading

October Dedications review

Source: HKR Books (9/20/18)
Marija Todorova reviews Mang Ke’s poetry collection and considers the significant role played by translators in such projects.

Mang Ke, October Dedications, trans. Lucas Klein, Huang Yibing and Jonathan Stalling (Zephyr Press, 2018), 131pp.

October Dedications

Published under the title October Dedications, this selection of Mang Ke’s poems is arguably one of the most important titles published so far in the Zephyr Press Jintian series of Chinese poetry. The mission of Zephyr Press is to publish “outstanding literature from around the world, and it  seeks to foster understanding of other languages and literary traditions through the twin arts of poetry and literary translation.” The Jintian series, which is published bilingually on facing pages, includes some of the most well known poets in their respective countries, with the majority of translated titles being the first books to appear in English by these authors. The whole series carries the name of the underground literary journal Jintian (Today) – the first unofficial literary journal published in the People’s Republic of China, a journal established by Mang Ke together with Bei Dao. Continue reading

An Anthology of Twenty-First-Century Chinese SF

Dear List Members,

We are happy to announce the publication of The Reincarnated Giant: An Anthology of Twenty-First-Century Chinese Science Fiction by Columbia University Press. Theodore Huters and I spent years working on this project, together with a group of excellent translators and scholars. The CUP webpage for the book is here:

The anthology features some of the most important works by science fiction writers Liu Cixin, Han Song, Chen Qiufan, Egoyan Zheng, Chi Hui, Xia Jia, as well as by writers experimenting with science fiction motifs and elements, such as Lo Yi-chin, and Dung Kai-cheung.

We are most grateful to our contributors, translators, editors, and so many people who have helped us work on this project. Thank you!

Mingwei Song <> and Theodore Huters

The 2018 Lucien Stryk Prize


The 2018 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize shortlist has been announced, with Diana Shi and George O’Connell’s Darkening Mirror, translations of Wang Jiaxin 王家新 (Tebot Bach) on the list. Congratulations to Shi and O’Connell!

But a look at the rest of the list: There’s Sonic Peace, by Kiriu Minashita, translated by Eric E. Hyett and Spencer Thurlow (Phoneme Media), which is poetry. But Junichirō Tanizaki’s Devils in Daylight, translated by J. Keith Vincent, and The Maids, translated by Michael P. Cronin (both New Directions), and Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin 邱妙津, as translated by Bonnie Huie (New York Review Books)? Those are works of fiction.

The Stryk Prize is–or was–a poetry translation prize. The prize’s Wikipedia page still makes that clear:

Eligible works include book-length translations into English of Asian poetry or source texts from Zen Buddhism, book-length translations from Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean into English.

But this year, for the first time, works of prose fiction are on the shortlist.

I think this is a problem. Continue reading

The Spatiality of Emotion review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Haiyan Lee’s review of The Spatiality of Emotion in Early Modern China: From Dreamscapes to Theatricality (Columbia UP, 2018), by Ling Hon Lam. The review appears below and online at: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

The Spatiality of Emotion in Early Modern China: 
From Dreamscapes to Theatricality

By Ling Hon Lam

Reviewed by Haiyan Lee
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September, 2018)

Ling Hon Lam, The Spatiality of Emotion in Early Modern China: From Dreamscapes to Theatricality New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. ix-xiii + 339 pp. ISBN: Hardback (9780231187947)• $60.00 • (£47.00)

In the field of Chinese literary studies, it is rare to see names like Zhu Xi, Tang Xianzu, and Li Yu sharing the same pages with Heidegger, Foucault, and Lefebvre. It happens in The Spatiality of Emotion in Early Modern China: From Dreamscapes to Theatricalitythanks to its author Ling Hon Lam’s vaulting ambition to retell the story of just about every topic near and dear to the heart of a literary scholar: representation, fictionality, theatricality, emotion, and performance, among others. Amazingly, this tall order is pulled off via an even taller order—a counterintuitive thesis that Lam presents at the outset and defends strenuously and successfully throughout the book: that emotion is less an inside-out psychological or neuro-chemical process than an outside-in spatial process. Continue reading

Yu Hua on China’s shocking pace of change

Source: The Guardian (9/6/18)
‘Human impulses run riot’: China’s shocking pace of change
Thirty years ago, politics was paramount. Now, only money counts. China’s leading novelist examines a nation that has transformed in a single lifetime.
By Yu Hua

Souvenirs featuring portraits of Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping, Beijing. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

When I try to describe how China has changed over the past 50 years, countless roads appear in front of me. Given the sheer immensity of these changes, all I can do is try first to follow a couple of main roads, and then a few smaller ones, to see where they take us.

My first main road begins in the past. In my 58 years, I have experienced three dramatic changes, and each one has been accompanied by a surge in suicides among officials. The first time was during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966. At the start of that period, many members of the Chinese Communist party woke up one day to find they had been purged: overnight they had become “power-holders taking the capitalist road”. After suffering every kind of psychological and physical abuse, some chose to take their own lives. In the small town in south China where I grew up, some hanged themselves or swallowed insecticide, while others threw themselves down wells: wells in south China have narrow mouths, and if you dive into one headfirst, there is no way you will come out alive. Continue reading

Supernatural Taiwan

Source: Taipei Times (8/30/10)
Spirits, ghosts, deities and monsters
Ho Ching-yao, author of a compendium on Taiwan’s supernatural beings, creatures and folktales, discusses his research and its significance as Ghost Month enters full swing
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Illustrator Chang Chi-ya’s rendering of Na Tao Ji, a spurned widow who haunts screw pine trees in Taiwan. Illustration courtesy of Chang Chi-ya

On the first day of Ghost Month every year, a sinister, chilly wind would sweep through the streets of Taniao (打貓). The wind would bring the cries of hungry ghosts, terrifying the local populace for the entire month.

On occasion, a 10-meter tall being with a blue face, protruding fangs and twin spiral horns clad in bright red armor would appear, flickering its extremely long tongue covered in flames. Whenever it appeared, the winds would stop and the ghosts would quiet down.

The people were grateful to this deity, who eventually became known as Dashiye (大士爺), and worshiped it every first of July by creating an effigy of it and hiring monks to ease the suffering of the ghosts. Continue reading

He Jianming discusses reportage

Source: Global Times (8/27/18)
Renowned Chinese writer He Jianming discusses power of literary reportage in China

He Jianming Photo:Li Hao/GT

During a media event at the Beijing International Book Fair on Wednesday, celebrated Chinese writer and vice chair of the China Writers Association He Jianming [何建明] noted that literary reportage provides a unique channel to record the social changes that occurred over the past four decades of China’s reform and opening up and is a great window for the world to see and get to know the real China.

A master of literary reportage, He attended the event to mark the 40th anniversary of his literature career, which overlapped with the country’s efforts to open up to the outside world. His new book, a 36-volume collection of He’s writings – which became a literature and social power that helped to push social reform in the country – was also showcased at the event. He stressed that truly good literary reportage does not fade over time despite the time sensitiveness of the genre. Continue reading

New English translation of Three Kingdoms

Source: China Daily (8/17/18)
Chinese classic gets new English translation
By BO LEUNG | China Daily

Martin Palmer has translated the Chinese classic, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new translation of the celebrated historical epic, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, has been completed.

The novel, written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, is based on real-life historical figures and events. The story dramatizes the lives of feudal lords and their retainers toward the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

Martin Palmer, whose work includes the English adaptations of The Book of Chuang Tzu and The Most Venerable Book, was tasked with translating the Chinese classic. Continue reading