Insects in Chinese Literature


Cambria Press is pleased to announce the publication of Insects in Chinese Literature: A Study and Anthology by Wilt L. Idema.

This gist of Professor Idema’s newest book is well captured by Professor Judith T. Zeitlin (University of Chicago) who notes, “That prodigiously productive scholar and translator of Chinese literature is at it again. This time Wilt Idema takes us into the teeming world of creepy, crawling things—insects. Entertaining and erudite, and covering a mind-boggling range of genres, serious and parodic, the extraordinary range of Chinese writing on this subject—from culturally venerated insects like silkworms, cicadas, and crickets to universal scourges like fleas, mosquitos, and lice—over millennia is here made available for the first time.” Continue reading

Love in the New Millennium nominated for Man Booker

Source: Radii (3/13/19)
Can Xue’s “Love in the New Millennium” Nominated for 2019 Man Booker International Prize
The 2019 Man Booker International Prize long list has been announced, with Chinese author Can Xue’s fantastical Love in the New Millennium among the nominees

Chinese avant-garde author Can Xue’s “darkly comic” novel Love in the New Millenium has made the Man Booker International Prize 2019 long list. The story follows “a group of women [that] inhabits a world of constant surveillance” and represents the “most ambitious work of fiction by a writer widely considered the most important novelist working in China today”, according to its English language publisher, Yale University Press.

Deng Xiaohua, the author behind the Can Xue pseudonym, was born in Changsha, in China’s southern province of Hunan. Her father, the one-time editor-in-chief of a prominent newspaper in the province, was labelled an “Ultra-Rightist” in the late 1950s along with other intellectuals of the period, and was sent to the countryside for two years for allegedly leading an anti-Communist group at the paper. Continue reading

“Wuhouci” Tibetan community of Chengdu

Source: High Peaks Pure Earth (2/25/19)
“Wuhouci” The Tibetan Community of Chengdu – Guest Post and Poetry Translation
By Lowell Cook

Photo taken in Wuhouci, Chengdu (Photo credit: Nina Robyn and Drolma Dondrup)

“The Tibetan Community of Chengdu” – An Introduction by Lowell Cook*

There are a number of Tibetan communities outside of the indigenous Tibetan lands and the community of Wuhouci is one of the most vibrant. Wuhouci is a neighborhood in the city of Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, and has earned a name for itself as Chengdu’s Tibetan quarter.

With Sichuan encompassing large parts of Kham and Amdo, Chengdu acts as one of the major centers for Tibetans from these regions to access certain goods and medical care, find work and attend language schools or universities, and even spend their winters. It is said that at any given time, there are around 300,000 Tibetans in Chengdu. When you think about the overall Tibetan population (roughly 6 million), this is a sizable number. Yet, when you consider the entire population of Chengdu (over 14 million), it becomes clear that they are still very much a minority. Continue reading

Wolf Totem and the Post-Mao Utopian review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yiyan Wang’s review of Wolf Totem and the the Post-Mao Utopian: A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship (Brill 2018), by Li Xiaojiang and translated by Edward M. Gunn. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Wolf Totem and the Post-Mao Utopian: 
A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship

By Li Xiaojiang
Translated by Edward Mansfield Gunn

Reviewed by Yiyan Wang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2019)

Li Xiaojiang, Wolf Totem and the Post-Mao Utopian: A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship Tr. Edward Mansfield Gunn. Leiden: Brill, 2018. Ix-xviii + 574. ISBN: 978-90-04-27672-7 (Hardcover).

Li Xiaojiang 李小江 is a scholar well-known for her ground-breaking research and extensive publications on gender and women’s issues in Chinese society. Her monograph, Post-Allegory: A Rigorous Explication of Wolf Totem  (后寓言:〈狼图腾〉深度诠释) (Wuhan: Changjiang wenyi, 2010), is a remarkable departure from her usual areas of research. The version here being reviewed is a translation of the 2013 revised edition (修正版), Wolf Totem and the Post-Mao Utopian: A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship (后乌托邦批评:〈狼图腾〉深度诠释) (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin), rendered into English by Edward Gunn. It offers, exactly as the subtitle indicates, “A Chinese Perspective on Contemporary Western Scholarship.”[1] Li’s analysis and positioning of the novel, Wolf Totem 狼图腾 (Jiang Rong 2004; translation by Howard Goldblatt 2009), as a “post” allegory, is a preparation for the core task of the book—to critique contemporary Western scholarship and to propose a new critical paradigm: post-utopian criticism. While Gunn faithfully translates the title of this revised edition as “the Post-Mao Utopian,” I use Li’s original term, “post-allegory” (后寓言), because it is her point of entry for and may help us understand her argument about “post-utopianism.” Continue reading

Roles of Translation in the Course of History–cfp

Culture and Politics: Roles of Translation in the Course of History
The Third International Conference on Chinese Translation History
Organised by Research Centre for Translation, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Co-organised with Department of Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

21 December 2019
Venue: The Chinese University of Hong Kong

The “International Conference on Chinese Translation History” series organised by the Research Centre for Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, aspires to explore Chinese translation history within the bigger framework of world civilisation and human thought. It aims to lay groundwork for new models, methods, and perspectives in this innovative interdisciplinary branch of learning through detailed case studies. Since 2015, the conference series are held every two years, with a different central theme for every conference.

The third conference, “Culture and Politics: Roles of Translation in the Course of History,” now invites submission of panel abstracts as well as abstracts for individual papers. Continue reading

Xiqu surtitle editors and translators needed

Dear MCLC colleagues:

I’m the Artistic Director at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, one of the largest cultural developments in the world right now.

We’ve just opened our first major arts centre, The Xiqu Centre, and are urgently looking to expand our army of people to help us with surtitles for the Xiqu performances.

Please contact me at  if you, any of your colleagues, or any of your students have the necessary skills and are looking for freelance work.

Deadlines can be quite tight, so we need committed, professional, knowledgeable and reliable translators and editors.

With appreciation,

Alison M. Friedman 方美昂
Artistic Director, Performing Arts
West Kowloon Cultural District
T: (+852) 2200 0862

Interview with Bruce Humes

Source: The Millions (2/1/19)
A Glimpse into a Different World: The Millions Interviews Bruce Humes
By Matt Hanson


Translator and blogger Bruce Humes has worked to advance global interest in borderland fiction from China, often spotlighting voices from Altaic cultural perspectives. This work began with his English translation of Last Quarter of the Moon by Chi Zijian, a novel about the Tungusic-speaking Evenki.

Earlier in his career, Humes translated literature reflecting China’s mainstream urban culture. His work on the novel Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui, published in English in 2001 and a bestseller in Hong Kong and Singapore, is a notable example. The original novel was banned in the People’s Republic of China not simply for what was then considered its shockingly bold depictions of sexual acts, but because Hui was the first female author to unabashedly detail the protagonist’s experience—orgasms and all—from the woman’s point of view. Continue reading

Chinese-English literary translation competition

Dear all,

Just a quick reminder the 5th Bai Meigui translation competition is live and the closing date is 12 midnight (GMT) 25th February. This year’s piece is a (very) short story by Hong Kong crime writer Chan Ho-kei. As ever, the competition is open to anyone, whether an established translator or a first-timer. See our website for further details.

As a footnote to this, can I also promote the publication of the winning entry of last year’s competition, which was exclusively open to high school students of Chinese. Jasmine Alexander’s translation of the Meng Yanan picture book, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival is now available to purchase, as a bilingual edition, from Balestier Press. Jasmine has been learning Chinese for 5 years and, as part of her prize, was mentored by the translator, and Marsh Award holder, Helen Wang, who helped her bring her version to print. It’s a lovely book both as a story for preschoolers and as an inspiration for older Chinese learners (and Jasmine in fact is coming to Leeds tomorrow to talk about her experience to 140 Year 7 pupils who have just started learning Chinese!).

With best wishes from Leeds!

Frances Weightman <>
The Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing

Rise of Chinese science fiction

Source: Factor Daily (1/12/19)
Telling the China Story: The Rise and Rise of Chinese Science Fiction
By Gautham Shenoy

“Science fiction is as rare as unicorn horns, which shows in a way the intellectual poverty of our times”, wrote Lu Xun, one of China’s most towering and revered literary figures, writing about science fiction literature in China in his preface to his 1903 translation of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon.

116 years later, science fiction in – and from – the People’s Republic of China has come a long way since then, to become what is arguably the most popular genre of literature in China and with translations of Chinese science fiction picking up pace and finding a ready and eager audience – to the extent that some have even referred to it China’s greatest cultural export since kung fu – one can safely say that Chinese SF’s journey to the west (and elsewhere) has only just begun, with its star showing no signs of diminishing. But it wasn’t always so. Continue reading

African literature wave in China

Source: Quartz Africa (1/15/19)
Chimamanda Adichie is leading the rise of an African literature wave in China
By Abdi Latif Dahir

An African “literary icon” arrives in China

Dear Ijeawele is a forthright and frank book, a 15-step letter about how to raise a feminist child. But when it’s published in China around April this year, it will garner its author, the celebrated Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a new status: becoming one of few African writers whose body of work has mostly, if not all, been translated to Chinese.

“By far the hottest African writer among Chinese fans today is Nigeria’s Adichie,” says Bruce Humes, an American linguist and Chinese literary translator. For years now, Humes has compiled a bilingual list of contemporary African fiction published in Chinese since the 1980s, putting together a list of novels, poetry, drama, and short story collections available to readers in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Humes, who has lived and worked across China since the late 70s, has so far identified 146 translated works from 66 African authors. Continue reading

Confession of a Jade Lord

Source: Daily Sabah (1/4/19)
A gem of Uighur literature: Alat Asem’s ‘Confessions of a Jade Lord’

A gem of Uighur literature: Alat Asem's ‘Confessions of a Jade Lord'

A gem of Uighur literature: Alat Asem’s ‘Confessions of a Jade Lord

In 2013, Uighur novelist Alat Asem published ‘Confessions of a Jade Lord,’ earning the Jun Ma Literature Prize, and a translation into English in 2018. As vice-chair of the Xinjiang Writers Association, Asem, who was born in Xinjiang in 1958, has an ear for preservation in the midst of cultural endangerment

On March 13, 2013, Alat Asem, author of 11 novels and seven collections of short stories, dated the last page of his book, “Confessions of a Jade Lord.” The year began bitterly when Amnesty International reported the death of his colleague, fellow Uighur writer Nurmemet Yasin. In the wake of the 2009 Urumqi riots, the harsh climate in the westernmost Chinese region of Xinjiang continues to worsen for its indigenous peoples. Dark clouds drift in from Beijing, the seat of government in the People’s Republic of China, where the ethnic Han majority rules over 1.3 billion people uncontested. Among the country’s 55 recognized minorities, the Uighur people of Xinjiang are targeted for practicing Islam in the midst of the territorial bids and geopolitical crises that afflict Central Asia. Continue reading

The Handsome Monk

Dear Colleagues,

I’m pleased to announce that my translation of The Handsome Monk and Other Stories, by Tsering Döndrup, is now available, published by Columbia University Press.

Tsering Döndrup is a Mongolian-Tibetan author from Amdo (Qinghai Province). He is one of the most popular and acclaimed authors writing in Tibetan today, and is renowned for his humorous and penetrating critiques of contemporary Tibetan society. Of particular interest will be the manner in which he treats the experiences of Tibetans in modern China, including the major impact of Chinese on the modern Tibetan language.

Here is the link to the publisher’s page. There is a 30% discount with the code CUP30:

The distributor in the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia is John Wiley & Sons (, and Footprint Books in Australia and New Zealand (


Christopher Peacock <>

Yesterday’s stray dog becomes today’s guard dog

Source: China Heritage (1/4/19)
Yesterday’s Stray Dog 喪家狗, Today’s Guard Dog 看門狗
Dog Days (VIII)

This latest addition to Dog Days — a series of canine-themed articles, essays, translations and art works marking The Year of the Dog (16 February 2018—4 February 2019) — takes as its theme China’s most famous ‘stray dog’ 喪家狗, the pre-Qin thinker and latter-day Sage, Confucius. In it, the irrepressible thinker, critic and essayist Liu Xiaobo 劉曉波 reviews the controversy surrounding Peking University professor Li Ling’s 2007 book, Stray Dog: Reading ‘The Analects’ 李零著《喪家狗——我讀論語》. Continuing his two-decade-long critique of the intellectual world, Liu then discusses the history and fate of China’s intellectuals as Homeless Dogs, Guard Dogs, Lap Dogs, Whipping Dogs and even Running Dogs.

Liu’s observations on State Confucianism, as well as on the benighted state of China’s intelligentsia, are even more relevant today, in 2019, than when he made them in 2007.

Acknowledgements: The following translation is taken from Liu Xiaobo, No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems, edited by Perry Link, Tienchi Martin-Liao and Liu Xia, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012, pp.188-200. We are grateful to Perry Link and Lindsay Waters for supporting our request to reprint this essay and to The Belknap Press for their kind permission. (The typographical style of the original has been retained.)

Yesterday’s Stray Dog Becomes Today’s Guard Dog
Liu Xiaobo
translated by Thomas E. Moran

Chinese people are talking excitedly these days about the rise of China as a great nation. First we spoke of an economic rise, then a cultural rise; we started spreading money around the globe, then exported soft power. There have been fads for reading the classics, for honoring the memory of Confucius, and for promoting Confucian ethics. China Central Television (CCTV), pressing to reestablish an orthodoxy in China, has used its program Lecture Hall to touch off a fad for reading The Analects. The government has put big money into “Confucius Institutes” around the world in an effort to spread soft power. The dream of ruling “all under heaven,” repressed for a century or more, is now resurgent and is taking Confucius the sage as its unifying force. The craze for Confucius grows ever more fierce. Continue reading

Afro-Lit in Chinese translation

Source: (12/19/18)
2018 Round-up: AfroLit in Chinese Translation
By Bruce Humes

What a difference a year makes.

In 2017, readers in mainland China keen to experiment and read newly translated novels from Africa could choose from just 8 titles, all translated from English or French, and weighted in favor of high-profile “diaspora” authors writing from abroad, such as Chimamanda Adichie and Alain Mabanckou. And 3 of those books were written by Nigerians.

Mia Couto’s “Terra Sonâmbula”: One of several Lusophone novels to be rendered in Chinese within 2018.

As 2018 comes to an end, according to the bilingual database African Writing in Chinese Translation, there are 143 titles dating from the sixties through today — mainly novels, but including short story and poetry collections — from which to choose.

The 2018 batch of new titles — 13 in all — looks rather more varied. To wit:

  • The majority were penned in Portuguese or Arabic
  • Four of the authors hail from Lusophone countries (Angola, Mozambique), three from countries bordering on the Mediterranean, and the others are natives of sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa)
  • Novels, short stories and drama are all represented

Continue reading

Ma Jian finds echoes of Mao and Orwell

Source: NYT (12/14/18)
A Dissident Chinese Novelist Finds Echoes of Mao, and Orwell
By Mike Ives

“Only in literature can we fully express the injustices of society, the extremes of human nature and our hopes for a beautiful future,” said Ma Jian while he was in Hong Kong for the annual literary festival. CreditCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Ma Jian, an exiled Chinese novelist who lives in London, took the stage at a packed Hong Kong theater last month and asked the audience a question: Who among them had read “1984”?

Mr. Ma, 65, was at the annual Hong Kong International Literary Festival to promote “China Dream,” his satirical novel about President Xi Jinping’s eponymous domestic propaganda campaign. He told the crowd that the book, published last month in English (Counterpoint will offer it in the United States in May 2019), showed how the dystopian future that George Orwell’s fiction once warned about had become a reality in the Chinese mainland under Mr. Xi’s leadership. Continue reading