Great to see Michael Berry’s translation of Remains of Life finally published. Some list members may be interested in re-reading my review of the French translation, published a while back:
and now un-paywalled.
Sebastian Veg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Once again we have a case of a reviewer failing to mention the name of the translator, or even seeing the book under review as a translation. By the way, the translator is Michael Berry.–Kirk
Source: SCMP (6/7/17)
James Joyce-like novel about Japanese genocide of Taiwan tribes is a tough read, but worth the effort
Award-winning Remains of Life, written without chapters or paragraphs, is a technically daunting account of a terrible event from Taiwan’s occupation that has taken 18 years to publish in English, and it’s not hard to see why
The cover of Wu He’s Remains Of Life. Columbia University Press
It’s taken 18 years for Wu He’s critically lauded Remains of Life to appear in English translation, and a glance at the text readily explains this delay.
This is an avowedly experimental novel that revolves around one dreadful event. On October 27, 1930, at a sports meeting at Musha Elementary School, on an aboriginal reservation in the mountains of Taiwan, a bloody uprising took place against the Japanese. By noon, the headhunting ritual had left 134 of the occupiers decapitated. The colonial power’s response was to mobilise a 3,000-strong militia, roll out the heavy artillery, put planes in the air and deploy poisonous gas in a ferocious act of genocide that saw the near extermination of the Seediq tribes.
The Musha Incident, as it came to be known, had been forgotten by many Taiwanese, but the book led to a resurgence in interest, and a new evaluation of its significance. Continue reading
The Reading Chinese Book Review Network
Interested in Chinese fiction in translation? Want to read and review recent works by contemporary Chinese authors and to see your reviews published online? Then apply to join the Reading Chinese Book Review Network!
We are looking for enthusiastic volunteer reviewers to join our book review network, launched in collaboration with Balestier Press and Penguin China. Reviewers who join the network will be sent a copy of selected titles and asked to submit a review within a specified timeframe. Their review will then be published on our website, creating a valuable resource for teachers and students of Chinese, as well as for members of the public looking for a good place to start with Chinese fiction in translation. Continue reading
I recall a discussion in this list about translated books—books of literature, even—being reviewed without any mention of the translator.
Well, this is a little different. I was getting my usual dose of enjoyment and enlightenment from a great book review by Perry Link in the New York Review of Books—in this case, a review of Yunte Huang’s The Big Red Book of Modern China Literature (along with a new book of Mao poems). It was from April 7, 2016. I’m a little behind in my reading… The Huang book has a generous assortment of authors and works, so out of curiosity I brought up the table of contents on Amazon. I confess I am drawn to mentions of Shen Congwen—I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess how often I do Kinkley searches. The anthology has excerpts from Border Town! Wow, I thought, so there’s a fifth translation of that great work, so soon after mine? Nope, Jeffrey Kinkley is acknowledged as the translator at the end. Who knew? Not me! (W. W. Norton was the publisher of both books.) Well, I was listed as the translator, so I guess I should be grateful for small favors.
–Jeffrey Kinkley <email@example.com
MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yurou Zhong’s translation of “On Listening to Enemy Radio,” by Ah Cheng. The translation appears below, but is best read at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/zhongyurou/.
Kirk Denton, editor
By Ah Cheng
Translated by Yurou Zhong
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July 2017)
Ah Cheng as an educated youth in Yunnan, circa 1970.
June 4, 1989 marked the end of the 1980s, concluding the decade one year early. The year 1976 had ended the 1970s, bringing that decade to a close four years early. However, adding the last four years of the 1970s to the next nine-year decade, it could be said the 1980s lasted for thirteen years. As for the decade of the 1970s, it really started from the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. From 1966 to 1976, that was ten whole years. To use “decade” to measure time is neither accurate nor appropriate. Life is not like pork and cannot be measured one slice at a time. For me, the 1970s was long. Every day stretched out like a year.
One day, when I was laboring away in the mountains, I realized that all the history books I had read since I was little concerned big events and the people involved in them. But there were only a handful of big events in those people’s lives. How did they live out the rest of their eventless and mundane lives? Did they also experience the same feeling I did of their days stretching on and on without end? The 1970s was the best time for me, with my endless energy and quick reactions, so quick that I could hardly keep up with myself. I had to constantly tell myself: Slow down and slow down a bit more; you have nothing but time. Continue reading
I have just translated a recent essay by Li Ling 李零. Toward the end of the essay, Li cites a poem by Gong Zizhen 龚自珍 entitled “Yong shi” 咏史 (Intoning history). I’m wondering if there is an English translation of this poem that I can adopt or consult for my translation of Li Ling’s essay. Please send any responses to me directly at the email below.
Source: Whats On Weibo (5/10/17)
“I Am Fan Yusu” (我是范雨素) (Full Translation)
In late April of 2017, Fan Yusu became an overnight literary sensation in China when her essay “I am Fan Yusu” was published on online platform Noonstory.com and soon went viral. Here is a full translation of the original Chinese essay. Translation provided by What’s on Weibo.
“I Am Fan Yusu,” by Fan Yusu
My life is like a book that’s dreadful to read – fate has made its bookbinding very messy. I am from Xiangyang in Hubei, and started to do private teaching at the local village school when I was twelve. If I wouldn’t have left, I would have continued to teach and would have become a proper teacher. But I couldn’t bear to stay in the countryside and view the sky from the bottom of the well, so I came to Beijing. I wanted to see the world. I was twenty years old at the time. Continue reading
Another review of Iron Moon.–Kirk
Source: Lit Hub (5/1/17)
The Chinese Factory Workers Who Write Poems on Their Phones
“An Unprecedented opportunity in the History of Working Class Literature.”
By Megan Walsh
It’s hard to think of anywhere in the world where becoming a poet is a canny career move, but this is especially true for the poorest and most disadvantaged trying to get a foothold in China’s frenzied special economic zones.
In recent years there have been a flurry of documentaries highlighting the hardships of China’s migrant workers, but the 2015 film Iron Moon drew attention to a very specific figure: the migrant worker poet. It follows several young writers battling economic and cultural prejudice in their attempts to sublimate 14-hour shifts on assembly lines into lines of poetry. We watch the young, tender-minded Wu Niaoniao (whose name means Blackbird) wandering from stand to stand in Guangzhou’s vast strip-lit Southern China Job Market, enquiring about editorial positions on internal factory newspapers. With a knowing mix of fatalism and hope that permeates the poetry of China’s migrant workers, he reads a poem and awaits their responses with a sheepish smile. Continue reading
The NYT has finally published an obituary for Burton Watson.–Kirk
Source: NYT (5/3/17)
Burton Watson, 91, Influential Translator of Classical Asian Literature, Dies
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Burton Watson, whose spare, limpid translations, with erudite introductions, opened up the world of classical Japanese and Chinese literature to generations of English-speaking readers, died on April 1 in Kamagaya, Japan. He was 91.
His death was confirmed by his nephew William Dundon.
For nearly six decades, Mr. Watson was a one-man translation factory, producing indispensable English versions of Chinese and Japanese literary, historical and philosophical texts, dozens of them still in print. Generations of students and teachers relied on collections like “Early Chinese Literature” (1962), “Chinese Lyricism: Shih Poetry From the Second to the Twelfth Century” (1971), “From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry” (1981) and “The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the 13th Century” (1984). Continue reading
Thanks for the links, Magnus. I’m glad to see an official obituary, finally.
I’ve been collecting remembrances from Watson’s friends, students, and fans—scholars, translators, and poets—on my blog, and so far have put up pieces by Victor Mair, Jesse Glass, Jeffrey Yang, John Bradley, Jonathan Chaves, Sam Hamill, J. P. Seaton, Chloe Garcia Roberts, Deb Wallwork and Mike Hazard, and John Timothy Wixted. You can see them all here: http://xichuanpoetry.com/?cat=1774
Lucas Klein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
More notes on Burton Watson, the great translator and scholar, who just passed away.
I myself only spoke to him once. But I have enjoyed his work tremendously over the years, and also used it in teaching. It shines with the same generosity that came across in his voice that one time.
— Magnus Fiskesjö <email@example.com>
MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Sean Macdonald’s translation of “Camel · Nietzschean and Woman,” by Mu Shiying, as part of our online publication series. The translation appears below and online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/macdonald/
Kirk Denton, editor
Camel · Nietzschean and Woman
By Mu Shiying
Translated by Sean Macdonald
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April 2017)
The spirit will become a camel.
Many heavy things await the spirit over there, await that weight-bearing, strong, and awesome spirit: because the heavy and the heaviest things are able to increase its strength.
“What is heavy anyway?” So asks the weight-bearing spirit; thus it kneels down like a camel, preparing to be well laden again.
“What is the heaviest thing, you heroes?” asks the weight-bearing spirit. “Allow me to bear those things, so that I may rejoice in my strength.”
. . . all those heavy things, the weight-bearing spirit takes it all onto its back, like a laden camel galloping toward the desert, the spirit thus speeds toward its desert. (from “Of the Three Metamorphoses” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra) Continue reading
Source: Notes on the Mosquito (4/3/17)
Burton Watson, 1925 – 2017
Burton Watson, the greatest translator of premodern poetry and prose from Chinese and Japanese, passed away on the evening of April 1, 2017, at Hatsutomi Hospital in Kamagata City, Chiba, Japan. He was 91.
I have so far been unable to find an obituary. I am reposting “Not Altogether an Illusion: Translation and Translucence in the Work of Burton Watson,” which I wrote for World Literature Today, published in May of 2014.
Ascent and grounding describe as well Watson’s reconciliation of the scholarly and poetic demands of translation: the solidity of his knowledge of classical Chinese finds expression in an English that calls attention to itself primarily in how it barely calls attention to itself. It is an extension of the overall architecture of the regulated verse form, down to the “succession of highly disciplined maneuvers” that define the antithetical parallelism of their middle couplets at their best. Where others have presented poetry and translation as forever at odds, Watson’s work sees this conflict as its own static tableau and reduces it to a productive part of his own translational poetics.