The Moving Target

The Moving Target: A Workshop on Translation and Chinese Poetry
June 1–2, 2018 | Leiden University
Convened by Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein

From the Book of Songs to 21st-century migrant worker poetry and from Yu Xiuhua in English to Paul Celan in Chinese:

Papers by Joseph Allen, Lucas Klein, Nicholas Morrow Williams, Zhou Min, Tara Coleman, Chris Song, Christopher Lupke, Jenn Marie Nunes, Meng Liansu, Joanna Krenz, Jacob Edmond, Eleanor Goodman, Nick Admussen, Rui Kunze, Maghiel van Crevel, and Wilt Idema. Full program:

Posted by: Maghiel van Crevel <>

Can literary imports change Chinese perceptions of Africa

Source: Sixth Tone (5/7/18)
Can Literary Imports Change Chinese Perceptions of Africa?
The continent’s best-loved texts are increasingly being translated into Chinese, but publishers are skeptical of their wider influence.
By Bruce Humes

A man reads a book at a bookstore in Beijing, May 6, 2018. Bo Xiang/IC

Western media frequently depicts China as a neocolonial power that seeks to import Africa’s natural resources at fire-sale prices, with precious little interest in the continent’s people or culture. At the same time, certain Chinese media outlets have recently come under the spotlight for their representations of Africans, while many black people in China complain that interactions are rife with racist stereotypes.

While economic considerations drive much cross-cultural exchange between China and Africa, the latter’s cultural exports have the potential to profoundly shape the ways Chinese people view the continent. The translation of African literature, for example, may give Chinese readers valuable insights into the sheer diversity of human culture and experience across the region. Continue reading

October Dedicationss

Announcing October Dedications, the selected poems of Mang Ke 芒克, edited and translated by Lucas Klein, with further translations by Huang Yibing and Jonathan Stalling—part of the Jintian series jointly published by Zephyr and The Chinese University Press.

Mang Ke (b. 1950, penname of Jiang Shiwei 姜世伟) began writing poetry as a sent-down youth in Baiyangdian, rural Hebei province, during the Cultural Revolution. As co-founder of the PRC’s first unofficial literary journal Jintian (Today) in 1978, he is one of the progenitors of what would later be called Obscure or “Misty” Poetry, with spare, impressionistic poems that were among the first to break free of the imposed discourse of Maoism towards an image-based literary style that left space for both expression and interpretation. He currently makes his living as an abstract painter and lives in Songzhuang, an artists’ colony on the outskirts of Beijing. Continue reading

Exhibition on British lit in China

Source: Global Times (4/23/18)
Exhibition delves into the introduction of British literature to China
By Chen Shasha in Shanghai

Alexandra Ault checks a manuscript at the Where Great Writers Gather exhibition in Shanghai. Photo: Courtesy of the British Library

Since the beginning of the 20th century, a large number of British literature were introduced to China through the tireless efforts of Chinese scholars and translators. A major doorway to China at the time, Shanghai played a critical role in introducing Western culture to the country.

A just concluded exhibition held in Shanghai, Where Great Writers Gather: Treasures of the British Library, provided a chance for literature lovers in Shanghai to get a better understanding of renowned British writers Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855), D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) and Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

Through translations, critiques and studies by Chinese scholars, the exhibition also presented the audience how British literature was brought into Shanghai and other cities, and how it impacted Chinese literature in a historical period full of great changes. Continue reading

Liu Zhenyun honored by France

Source: China Daily (4/23/18)
Life and times of a magical realist
By Mei Jia | China Daily

Chinese writer Liu Zhenyun (right, pictured on top) poses with French ambassador to China Jean-Maurice Ripert after receiving a medal of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in Beijing on April 13. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese writer Liu Zhenyun has been honored with France’s Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for his contribution to world literature. Mei Jia reports.

Upon receiving the award of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters on April 13 at the Institut Francais in Beijing, Liu Zhenyun says what he did was just sit beside “small potatoes”, the unimportant people he listened to in times of need, and wrote about them because nobody else would listen to their stories. Continue reading

Fu Lei’s works published in 26 vols

Source: Shanghai Daily (4/10/18)
Famous translator’s works published
By Li Qian

Fu Lei’s second son Fu Min signs one of the volumes in the collection of his father’s work.

A COLLECTION of work by Shanghai translator Fu Lei has been published to mark the 110th anniversary of his birth.

Fu is renowned for translations of French writers, including Romain Rolland, Balzac and Voltaire, in a unique style which captures the literary spirit of their work rather than being a direct translation.

“Compilation of Fu Lei’s Writings and Translations” is in 26 volumes, containing a whopping 7.5 million words.

It covers 36 translated books and 26 translated articles, such as Balzac’s masterpiece “The Human Comedy” and Rolland’s “The Life of Michael Angelo.” Fu’s translation of Rolland’s “Jean Christophe” series is still popular today. Continue reading

Liu Bin’s “That Year I Was out on the Street”

Liu Bin 刘斌

the poet li yan
saw my post on weibo
and lent me one thousand yuan
so I could
check into a hotel
when it was minus 12 outside
I had slept in internet bars
many days

that year we all used
netease weibo microblog
yi sha’s npc, new poetry canon
first came out on netease

later li yan
found me a warehouse
a warehouse with heating
it was really warm
but after two days I was sick from the heat
sweating all night

December 2017
Translated by Martin Winter, March 2018

Original version etc. see here.

Martin  <>

Politics and poetry

Two poems by Yi Sha from May 2016. One on poetry, one on history. Generations, family. Chinese originals are here. Below at the end is a poem I wrote last month. Rather flippant. Yi Sha is better. I have better poems too.

Martin Winter <>

Yi Sha

you don’t know it exists
it’s there

you forget about it
it’s there

you use it
it’s there

you betray it
it’s there

it exists apart
from you

May 2016
Translated by MW, Feb. 2018 Continue reading

Xu Zhimo as world poet

List members who welcomed last year’s two items about Xu Zhimo as a world poet (November 18 & 19, 2017) will be pleased to hear about the anthology Into English, edited by Martha Collins and Kevin Prufer (Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, 2017), which includes Xu Zhimo as one of twenty-five world poets whose work in translation is featured. Contributors were asked to select a poem that has been translated into English at least three times and to comment on these translations. I chose Xu Zhimo and his “Zai bie Kangqiao” [A Second Farewell to Cambridge], probably the best known poem in modern Chinese, and compared translations by Kai-yu Hsu, Michelle Yeh and Hugh Grigg. I’ve never translated any of Xu Zhimo’s poems for publication but have enjoyed reading and teaching them for many years. This anthology is a tribute to the lasting value of poets and poetry around the world and an acknowledgement of the deep pleasure to be gained by translating and reading translations of their works.

Bonnie S. McDougall FAHA
Honorary Associate, School of Languages and Cultures,
University of Sydney A18;
Professor Emeritus of Chinese, The University of Edinburgh

Elegy of a River Shaman review

Source: Writing China (1/26/18)
The Last Human Tiger: Review of Fang Qi’s Elegy of a River Shaman
By Astrid Møller-Olsen


In a fantastic blend of folk song, ecocriticism and historical fiction, the novel Elegy of a River Shaman chronicles four generations of the Tribe of the Tiger and their Tima (shaman) in the Three Gorges (san xia 三峡) region along the Yangzi River. It opens with the clan patriarch Li Diezhu’s decision to build a pioneer settlement in the fertile Lihaku ridge and moves on to relate how macro-historical events, such as the Japanese invasion of 1937 and the civil war between communists and nationalists, affected the lives and traditions of this local community.

After trailing the fates and misfortunes of the dwindling tribe, the novel ends on a hopeful note, with Diezhu’s ageing widow assuring their great-grandson of the continued survival of his people and their totem animal: “when a tiger turns five hundred years old, its fur turn white. They can live a thousand years” (467). Continue reading

JMLC ‘Chinese Poetry and Translation’

JMLC releases its 14.2–15.1 special issue “Chinese Poetry and Translation: Moving the Goalposts”

Guest-edited by Maghiel van Crevel, this special issue of the Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese (JMLC) comes out of a June 2017 workshop at Lingnan University. Rather than from real and imagined problems of (Chinese)-poetry-and-translation, the authors of this issue work from its potential: for rocking the boat rather than providing safe passage, for moving the goalposts and getting away with it, for empowering the translator to choose, time and again, which rule s/he wants to break, and unleashing whatever it is that happens next. While translation—interlingual and otherwise—is a central feature of the study of Chinese literature as practiced in an international community, it nevertheless doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, and we are happy to help address this. The papes conjoin theoretical contributions with in-depth reflection generated from inside processes and results of translation and its infrastructure. The abstracts can be viewed at

Table of Contents: Continue reading

Chinese Literature Today 6.2

Dear MCLC List members,

I am pleased to announce that Chinese Literature Today 6.2 (2017) is now available on the Routledge website ( Below is the TOC of CLT 6.2 (2017).

Ping Zhu <>


6 Introduction, by Dai Jinhua
8 Writing as a Way of Life: Nomination of Wang Anyi for the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, by Dai Jinhua
10 “Coming to Oklahoma”: In Acceptance of the 2017 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, by Wang Anyi
12 Wang Anyi: The Storyteller as Thinker, by Wang Ban
14 Seven Short Conversations with Wang Anyi, Dai Jinhua, and Wang Ban, by Ping Zhu
22 The Emergence of a Writer, the Evolution of a Literary Scene: In Conversation with Wang Anyi, by Michael Berry
29 The White Horse in the Longtang, by Wang Anyi
35 Mothers and Daughters: Orphanage as Method, by Carlos Rojas
43 From Nostalgia to Reflection: An Exploration of The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi, by Elena Martin-Enebral
52 Wang Anyi, Taiwan, and the World: The 1983 International Writing Program and Biblical Allusions in Utopian Verses, by Po-hsi Chen Continue reading

Best books in Chinese 2017

Dave Haysom has just compiled this brilliant list on Paper Republic.

2017: Best Books in Chinese

Which works of sci fi were worth reading this year? Whose fiction has forged a new way of representing dialect in literature? Why are Chinese authors reading the critic James Wood? And what was life like for Communist guerrillas in the jungles of 1980s Malaysia? Find out in our list of the best books published in Chinese in 2017, as chosen by Paper Republic and friends!

Nicky Harman