Before the Revolution

Source: NY Review of Books (6/7/18)
Before the Revolution
By Louisa Chiang and Perry Link

Little Reunions
by Eileen Chang, translated from the Chinese by Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz
New York Review Books, 332 pp., $16.95

Forever Young
a film directed by Li Fangfang


Eileen Chang, Hong Kong, circa 1954

In 2012, as he ascended to the top of the Chinese Communist Party and its government, Xi Jinping began giving speeches about a “Chinese Dream”: China was to become wealthy, powerful, beautiful, and unified. Of these four goals, wealth and power were especially important because, in an official narrative that had been repeated for decades in schools and the media, China for too long had been bullied by Western powers.

The sense of national humiliation that has seeped into popular consciousness in China has, for many, led to a deep ambivalence toward the West: Chinese admire its wealth, modernity, and freedoms, yet we are rivals, not friends. China’s great modern writer Lu Xun (1881–1936) several times observed that his fellow Chinese look either up at the West or down on it—never straight across. The usual results are caricatures that further impede the possibility of getting a clear look. Continue reading

Lu Yao translation

Yu Zhang and Calvin Hui’s interview with Cai Xiang, published recently by MCLC Resource Center, pointed out the lack of translations of Lu Yao’s works into English. I thought I’d mention that my translation of Life《人生》by Lu Yao will be coming out in the spring with AmazonCrossing.


Chloe Estep <>

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yan Liang’s review of Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories: A Parallel Text (Columbia UP, 2017), translated and edited by Aili Mu, with Mike Smith. The review appears below, but is best viewed online at: My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, editor

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories:
A Parallel Text

Translated and edited by Aili Mu with Mike Smith

Reviewed by Yan Liang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2018)

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories: A Parallel Text. Translated and edited by Aili Mu with Mike Smith. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017. pp. 528. ISBN: 9780231181532 (paper); ISBN: 9780231181525 (hard cover); ISBN: 9780231543637 (e-book).

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories (2018) is a parallel-text (Chinese-English) collection of Chinese short-short stories translated and edited by Aili Mu in collaboration with poet and essayist Mike Smith. It is a delightful read for anyone curious about contemporary Chinese society. The English translations of the stories are smooth and graceful, despite Mu’s conscious choice—for the pedagogical sake of Chinese language learners—of translating the text more literally than literarily. With the addition of the parallel Chinese text and the thoughtfully designed teaching materials, including introductory essays, glossaries, reading questions, and author biographies, the book makes an easy-to-use and much-needed textbook for teachers and advanced students of Chinese language and culture. Continue reading

Yi Sha poems


Chinese texts to the poems below are on my blog:


Yi Sha
DREAM 1065

My wife Old G. takes a rope,
ties up a crocodile’s mouth.
Very tight,
then she picks him up
and shoves him
into an iron cage.
In the cage
there are two other
tied-up crocodiles.
She says, “If you want pets,
you have to raise them this way.
Blows before words.
That little dog,
if you had
tied him up first,
he would be
our little dog now.”

May 2017
Translated by MW, June 2018

Yi Sha
DREAM 1066

Every village
in china
has a halfwit.
I spend the night in some village
and per accident kill their halfwit.
I am terrified,
and even more terrified
when they don’t notice
his disappearance at all.

I get off scot-free.

May 2017
Translated by MW, June 2018

Yi Sha
DREAM 1296

One fellow teacher
and shitty Mao-fan
jumps to his death.
Blood splatters the empty space
between university buildings.
I am shaken,
extremely surprised,
which goes to show
I never thought
their opposition
to the current dynasty
was the real thing.

Tr. MW, June 2018



June 2007, Poetry International Festival Rotterdam.
A Chinese from America who writes in English asks me,
“Who is the best poet in China now?”
“I”, I blurt out.

June 2018
Tr. MW, June 2018


In the face of this world-class stupid censorship system, the best method is to write a lot, to write very broadly and very well, till you are so fat you’re not afraid of them cutting off meat.

June 2018
Translated by MW, June 2018


Unlike you, my Kung-Fu guru is not Lu Xun’s brother Zhou Zuoren.
My Shifu’s surname is Liu.

June 2018
Translated by MW, June 2018


Rather than look at the way you guys preen yourself, let me preen myself too: Editing my new poetry collection, I have way too much material, first choice of everything is no good, I have to choose again, and cut away ruthlessly, otherwise the book gets too thick. So I get very edgy.

June 2018
Translated by MW, June 2018

Wandering Mind and Metaphysical Thoughts

Gao Xingjian 高行健
Wandering Mind and Metaphysical Thoughts 遊神與玄思
The Chinese University Press, 2018
Translated by Gilbert C F Fong 方梓勳

Gao Xingjian does not write many poems, but the ones he has written are real gems; they are snippets of his reflective moods. To those of us who know the man, he is poetry incarnate, with the essential purity and density of a good poem. The present collection, his first and only poetry anthology in English translation, affords insights into Gao’s philosophy of freedom and the independence of spirit, and elucidates his ideas as a novelist, dramatist and painter. Modern art, claims Gao, is at a crisis point, under attack from all sides by onslaughts coming especially from politics and the marketplace, which results in what he calls the “annihilation” of beauty. We see Gao Xingjian as a natural, warm, and insightful thinker capable of grace, beauty, and his own brand of esoteric wisdom, at times almost honest to a fault but not without a touch of humor and wittiness. A riveting and compulsive read. Continue reading

Crime novel goes global

Source: NYT (6/4/18)
How to Catch a Killer in China: Another Chinese Crime Novel Goes Global
查看简体中文版 | 查看繁體中文版
By Steve Lee Meyers

Crime, Zhou Haohui says, is a universal theme, which is why detective stories or police thrillers can more easily transcend cultural divides than, say, historical fiction.CreditGiulia Marchi for The New York Times

YANGZHOU, China — Zhou Haohui, the latest author to catch the wave of Chinese crime fiction crashing on international shores, had an unsatisfying job teaching engineering at a university outside of Beijing in 2007 when he began publishing — online — the novels that would earn him a cultlike following in China.

These books — a trilogy about a police hunt for a vengeful killer — went into print two years later, ultimately selling more than 1.2 million copies. They inspired a serial on the streaming site owned by Tencent, the social media giant, that has, to date, been watched a staggering 2.4 billion times, according to his agent, China Educational Publications Import & Export Corporation. A feature film went into production in April. Continue reading

Feature on HK lit in Words Without Borders

List members may be interested in a feature on fantastic Hong Kong literature that appears in the latest issue of Words Without Borders:

The full issue can be found here:

Jennifer Feeley

Growing interest in Jia Pingwa’s works

Source: China Daily (5/25/18)
Growing interest in Jia’s works
By Mei Jia

Carlos Rojas, translator of Jia Pingwa’s The Lantern Bearer. [Photo provided to China Daily]

There has been a surge in the number of English translations of Jia Pingwa’s works in recent years, says Carlos Rojas, a professor of Chinese cultural studies at Duke University and the translator of Jia’s The Lantern Bearer.

“Jia was the least-translated (into English) contemporary literary master. For years, there was only Turbulence: A Novel, translated by Howard Goldblatt and released in 2003,” says Rojas.

He says he is glad to see that more of Jia’s works have been translated or are in the process of being translated. Continue reading

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