Silk Road Tales

Source: Paper Republic (10/8/19)
Silk Road Tales: A Look at a Mongolian-Chinese Storybook
By Bruce Humes

cover image

The new emperor’s Belt & Road Initiative has already resulted in scores of contracts for highways, railways and port construction in Central Asia, Southeast Asia and even East Africa. Perhaps less well known is China’s solidly financed soft power campaign that aims to create or translate, publish and disseminate texts in the languages of the “Silk Road” peoples — land- and sea-based — that relate to the history of the ancient trade routes. This post features the tale of Zhang Qian, diplomat and explorer of the “Western Realm” during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (141-87 BCE). It is one of a bilingual picture-book series aimed at children aged 5-6 who live in Inner Mongolia.To facilitate comparison, the blogger has provided the text in three languages, five scripts: the original Chinese and Inner Mongolian script (vertical); Hanyu Pinyin; Cyrillic Mongolian (used in the Republic of Mongolia); and a translation of the text into English.Students of Chinese and Central Asian history may note that one related “episode” has been left out of this rendition. As noted in the storybook, after years of imprisonment at the hands of the Xiongnu, Zhang Qian escaped and was welcomed by the ruler of Da Yuan. We learn that “With the help of the king of Da Yuan, Zhang Qian visited many countries and gained a great deal of knowledge of the culture and geography of the countries of the Western region.” Continue reading

The Transcultural Streams of Chinese Canadian Idenitities

New Publication

Jessica Tsui-yan Li, editor The Transcultural Streams of Chinese Canadian Identities. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019.–the-products-9780773556850.php

Investigating the conditions that shape Chinese Canadian identities from various historical, social, and literary perspectives. Highlighting the geopolitical and economic circumstances that have prompted migration from Hong Kong and mainland China to Canada, The Transcultural Streams of Chinese Canadian Identities examines the Chinese Canadian community as a simultaneously transcultural, transnational, and domestic social and cultural formation. Continue reading

Novel collection to commemorate 70th anniversary of PRC

Source: Xinhua (9/24/19)
China releases novel collection to commemorate 70th anniversary of PRC founding

BEIJING, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) — China has recently published a collection of 70 novels to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The selected novels, unveiled Monday in Beijing, are outstanding literary works that reflect the changes in China and the lives of Chinese people in the last 70 years, depicting the progressive spirit of the people in promoting the country’s development.

The novels vary greatly in terms of style, genre and theme, consisting of historical novels, biographical novels and works of science fiction. Continue reading

Who wrote Jin Ping Mei

Source: LARB, China Channel (9/13/19)
Who Wrote China’s Most Notorious Erotic Novel?
By Tristan Shaw
Tristan Shaw unpicks the controversial authorship of Jin Ping Mei

A pornographic Ming Dynasty painting (public domain image from Wikicommons).

For over 400 years, the Ming-era novel Jin Ping Mei  known in English as The Golden Lotus – has been celebrated by some readers as a literary masterpiece, while others condemn it as a salacious influence. Chronicling the life of a decadent merchant named Ximen Qing in the Song dynasty, the book’s notoriety comes from its graphic descriptions of sex, covering everything from adultery to sado-masochism. As Ximen rises up the social hierarchy, his lust for power and sex becomes increasingly depraved. Over the course of the story, he takes six wives and numerous concubines and servants, before eventually dying during the passionate raptures of sex from an overdose of aphrodisiacs. Continue reading

Poetry in the Age of Global Media

Dear colleagues,

I am delighted to announce the publication of my book Make It the Same: Poetry in the Age of Global Media, which is just out from Columbia University Press. I am extremely grateful to the MCLC scholarly community for helping make the book a reality.

Make It the Same explores how poetry—an art form associated with the singular, inimitable utterance—is increasingly made from other texts through sampling, appropriation, translation, remediation, performance, and other forms of repetition.

Two chapters deal primarily with poetry in Chinese, including work by Yi Sha 伊沙, Hsia Yü 夏宇, and Yang Lian 楊煉. The book as a whole offers a novel account of modern and contemporary literature that is of relevance to scholars of Chinese literature and culture. It shows how modernist and contemporary literature is defined not by innovation—as in Ezra Pound’s oft-repeated slogan “make it new”—but by a system of continuous copying. In Make It the Same, I argue that the old hierarchies of original and derivative, center and periphery are overturned when we recognize copying as the engine of literary change.

For more information on the book, see, where you can use the code CUP30 to receive a 30% discount. Though the book is a bit pricy at present, I hope you might consider ordering it for your institution’s library.

Warmest wishes,
Jacob Edmond

Out now: Make It the Same: Poetry in the Age of Global Media (Columbia University Press, July 2019)

Ban Yu’s Fiction of Northeast China

MCLC Resource Center Web Publications is pleased to announce publication of “Frozen Waters and Deathly Wells: Ban Yu’s Fiction of Northeast China,” by Qi Wang. The first few paragraphs of the essay appear below. The whole essay can be found here:

Kirk Denton, editor

Frozen Waters and Deathly Wells:
Ban Yu’s Fiction of Northeast China

By Qi Wang

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September 2019)

Ban Yu

In my wandering around in the cinematic and literary world of East Asia, I have come upon many echoes and parallels among cultural imaginations across national borders. One such example is that of the comparable pulses I find in the films of South Korean maverick director Hong Sang-soo (b. 1960) and the stories of a much younger Chinese writer Ban Yu (班宇, b. 1986), even though their works deal with very different social subjects. Hong made his debut film, The Day a Pig Fell into the Well (1996), when Ban was still an elementary school kid in Shenyang. Hong weaves a cinema out of numerous rounds of wandering and drinking of frustrated Korean artists and intellectuals; Ban crafts a literary world in which laid-off workers in northeast China and their families try and fail to adapt to life in the reform era. Over the years, Hong’s arthouse corpus has continued to spin tales around waiting and wandering, creating thinking time between stops. This rejection of story efficiency and plot mechanism in which every step is not necessarily a preparation for the next step tends to characterize the art of a number of East Asian filmmakers and storytellers, a propensity that is worth pondering in terms of alternative paths for development. Different rhythms of life, usually appearing slower and more contemplative, seem sorely needed in the contemporary world. The young Chinese author Ban Yu (b. 1986), who started his writing career as a music critic, is a recent example of an East Asian cultural imagination that continues and refreshes this particular inclination for narrative realism. This current essay discusses Ban’s first literary collection, Winter Swim (冬泳), and presents the author as a brilliant thinker and stylist.[1] His prose features an alternative rhythm that is made manifest through kinesthetic arrangements such as waiting, wandering, and swimming. The last, in particular, is the author’s unique invention and characterizes the inner life of some Chinese in northeast Asia from the 1980s to the present. Continue reading

Alai’s In the Cloud

Source: News China (Sept. 2019)
Requiem on the Ruins
By Liu Yuanhang

Book launch for In the Cloud, May 25, 2019

In his latest novel In the Cloud, award-winning ethnic Tibetan writer Alai breaks his decade-long silence on his experience with death during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. In an interview with NewsChina, Alai discusses past trauma, his literary transformations and social challenges to come

Alai was working on his mythological novel The King of Gesar at his home in Chengdu, Sichuan Province when the ground violently trembled under his feet.

“At that moment I was writing about the fury of the gods, who make the entire world quiver in fear. It took me a few seconds to judge whether the violent quake was real or my imagination. I felt the tremor instantly spring up from the ground to my desk and it almost flung me to the floor. Then I realized it was not from my hallucination. It was a real earthquake,” reads the preface of In the Cloud, Alai’s latest book released on April 30. Continue reading

Revisiting Liaozhai zhiyi

I am glad to announce the publication of the first issue of Ming Qing Studies. Monographs:

Revisiting Liaozhai zhiyi 聊齋誌異

This book is the first of a series of volumes that accompany the annual publication of Ming Qing Studies. The series will publish a volume for each issue, and this is a supplement to MQS 2018. Every volume consists of a focused essay, or collects a few essays on the same topic. Mini-monographs, research reports, and occasional papers of length comprised between 20,000 and 60,000 words are also considered for publication. Monograph n. 1 is:

Revisiting Liaozhai zhiyi 聊齋誌異, by Paolo Santangelo Continue reading

Fu Ping review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Elena Martín Enebral’s review of Fu Ping (Columbia UP, 2019), by Wang Anyi and translated by Howard Goldblatt. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC literary translations book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Fu Ping

By Wang Anyi
Translated by Howard Goldblatt

Reviewed by Elena Martín Enebral
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2019)

Wang Anyi, Fu Ping. Tr. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. 296 pp. ISBN: 9780231193221 (Hardcover); ISBN: 9780231550208 (E-book)

The novel Fu Ping (富萍) was first published in the literary magazine Harvest (收获) in 2000. Wang Anyi (王安忆, 1954-) described it as reflecting almost a decade of inquiry, the result of which satisfied her as much as her acclaimed novel Song of Everlasting Sorrow (长恨歌, 1995), for which she obtained the supreme Chinese writing award, the Mao Dun Prize, that same year.[1] With good reason, therefore, we can welcome the recent publication in English of this novel, essential as it is to understanding the creative evolution of one of the most emblematic figures of contemporary Chinese literature, and most especially when translated by the renowned Howard Goldblatt.

The English edition opens with a note from the author that reveals some of the sources of inspiration for the novel. A trip to Yangzhou (扬州) reminds Wang Anyi of a beautiful poem by Li Bai (李白) that takes her back in time to her childhood and her nanny, who was originally from that town. Poetry and memory fuse to evoke, before her eyes, the image of a face belonging to the heroine of her novel: Fu Ping, a young woman from a village near Yangzhou. Fu Ping moves to Shanghai in the mid-1960s to meet Nainai (奶奶), the adoptive grandmother of her future husband whom she has only seen on a handful of occasions. Wang Anyi links the fate of her heroine with another personal memory: a tranquil journey along the Suzhou River (苏州河) in one of the motorized scows that workers from Subei (苏北) use to transport waste daily outside the city of Shanghai. Continue reading

My Mountain Country

Ye Lijun’s My Mountain Country
Translated from the Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Foreword by Christopher Merrill

Contemporary Chinese poet Ye Lijun’s My Mountain Country in Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s translation, with a foreword by Christopher Merrill and an essay by the poet-translator, is just published by World Poetry Books.

Read some poems here and here. To order: SPD (pre-order: Amazon)

In this remarkable English debut, award-winning Chinese contemporary poet Ye Lijun offers readers a lyrical diorama of nature and the inner world. By turns intimate and profound, Ye’s poems in Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s masterful translations make music of everyday silences, and illuminate the invisible openings in our lives. In this vital collection by one of China’s essential literary voices, each encounter is an invitation, wherein a village, a nest, a telescope, or a book proves to be a transient guide to the unknown.

Emerging Translator Mentorship program

Source: American Literary Translators Association Blog (8/20/19)
Meet the 2020 Emerging Translator Mentorship Program Mentors!
by rcldaum

2020 Mentors

Clockwise from top left: Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Mara Faye Lethem, Marian Schwartz, Jennifer Feeley

ALTA is delighted to introduce the 2020 Emerging Translator Mentorship Program mentors! The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to establish and facilitate a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. ALTA’s Emerging Translator Mentorship Program was founded by former ALTA board member Allison M. Charette. This applications for the 2020 mentorship program cycle will open September 9 on our Submittable page. Continue reading

Mao Dun Literature Prize 2019

Source: China Daily (8/16/19)
Five novels win China’s top literature award
By Xinhua | Updated: 2019-08-16 20:01


BEIJING – Five novels have won this year’s Mao Dun Literature Prize, one of the four highest literature awards in China, the prize’s organizer unveiled Friday.

The five novels, respectively written by Liang Xiaosheng, Xu Huaizhong, Xu Zechen, Chen Yan and Li Er, won the prize, which is awarded every four years, according to the China Writers Association.

The winners were chosen from 234 candidates after six rounds of reviews and votes.

An awarding ceremony will be held in October in Beijing.

Liu Cixin interview at Brandeis

Dear friends,

In May, the globally renowned SF writer Liu Cixin traveled to Brandeis University to receive an honorary degree. At Brandeis, Liu did an interview with John Plotz (Professor of English, Brandeis) and Pu Wang (associate professor of Chinese) for the podcast channel Recall This Book.

I’m now glad to let you know that our Liu Cixin interview (English version) has gone live.  If you want to listen to Liu’s own voice in Chinese, check out the Chinese version of the Liu interview. Author of Three Body Problem and subject of a recent controversial piece  in the New Yorker, Liu is also a sweet and very chatty interviewee, who does love some Tolstoy….

This is the first time that Recall This Book posted a podcast in a language other than English. In addition, it also published a retrospective discussion after the interview, in which two Brandeis professors reflect on what is most striking in the interview itself.

At Recall This Book, you will also have the accessibility transcripts so that folks who prefer reading to listening can get a quick sense of the discussions.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!


Pu Wang <>

Chinese Literature Today 8.1

Dear friends,  

You are invited to read or download the newest issue of Chinese Literature Today online during our free promotion period between now and the end of August. 

This special issue on contemporary Chinese poetry features a lovely special section on Hong Kong writer Xi Xi (guest edited by Jennifer Feeley), selected poems by seven contemporary Chinese-language poets (Wang Jiaxin, Che Qianzi, Li Dewu, Hu Jiujiu, Jialu Mi, Huang Chunming, and Chen Li), as well as the latest scholarship on Chinese migrant worker poetry by the featured scholar Maghiel van Crevel.

Ping Zhu, Acting Editor in Chief <>

The Translatability of Revolution review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yi Zheng’s review of The Translatability of Revolution: Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture (Harvard University Asia Center), by Pu Wang. The review appears below and at is online home:

My thanks to MCLC literary studies book review editor, Nicholas Kaldis, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Translatability of Revolution:
Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture

By Pu Wang

Reviewed by Yi Zheng
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)

Pu Wang, The Translatability of Revolution: Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2018. xvi + 336 pp. ISBN: 978-0-674-98718-0.

Owing largely to the controversial nature of his political affiliations and intellectual achievements, Guo Moruo has to date not received adequate academic attention in the English-speaking world. There are notable studies of Guo’s historiography, literary theory and practice, and his intellectual and life choices.[1] His early poems and poetics have also received substantial treatment.[2] But as one of twentieth-century China’s most important poets, translators, dramatists, and scholars, his work is understudied and underappreciated. The Translatability of Revolution: Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture is ground-breaking in affording Guo his rightful place. Pu Wang’s comprehensive new study of Guo’s life and work is not only a first, but also an intellectual and literary-historical tour-de-force that both demonstrates excellent scholarship and offers remarkable insights into Chinese literature, history, comparative literature, and translation studies. Continue reading