Book of Swindles

Dear colleagues,

Bruce Rusk and I are delighted to announce the publication of The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (Columbia, 2017). This year happens to be the 400th anniversary of the earliest datable edition, and the theme has some contemporary relevance.

Best,

Christopher Rea <leiqinfeng@gmail.com>

The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection
By Zhang Yingyu. Translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk.
Columbia University Press, 2017
ISBN: 9780231178631

This is an age of deception. Con men ply the roadways. Bogus alchemists pretend to turn one piece of silver into three. Devious nuns entice young women into adultery. Sorcerers use charmed talismans for mind control and murder. A pair of dubious monks extorts money from a powerful official and then spends it on whoring. A rich student tries to bribe the chief examiner, only to hand his money to an imposter. A eunuch kidnaps boys and consumes their “essence” in an attempt to regrow his penis. These are just a few of the entertaining and surprising tales to be found in this seventeenth-century work, said to be the earliest Chinese collection of swindle stories. Continue reading

The Yangtze and My Father

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul E. Festa’s translation “The Yangtze and My Father: A Love Story,” by Yuan Jinmei. The essay appears below and can be read at its permanent home here:

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/festa2/

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

The Yangtze and My Father: 
A Love Story

By Yuan Jinmei [1]

Translated by Paul E. Festa


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September 2017)


Yuan Jinmei

When I was young, I never knew fish got sick, birds became poisoned, kids died. My father, however, was well aware. He was a biologist. After he died, I learned from his students that fish from the Yangtze River are inedible. Birds fly in the cogon grass of the Yangtze’s riparian zone; they flutter and fly, and plunge and die—it’s lead poisoning. Children raised near the river, young children, contract liver cancer.

Before people knew why, the great Yangtze—the legendary river that for so long flowed from the horizon into eternal poems and paintings—suddenly lost its halcyon aura as the carefree setting for the solitary swan under sunset clouds, suddenly found its expansive bosom heretofore unfailingly open to all and sundry sailing ships now closed. The Yangtze, suddenly, became our enemy. Continue reading

Old Fool: Elegy for a Monkey

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul E. Festa’s translation “Old Fool: Elegy for a Monkey” (老傻), by Hu Fayun 胡发云. The essay, which mourns the death of a smuggled rare monkey, was widely circulated online. The essay appears below, but is best read at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/festa/. Enjoy.

Kirk Denton, editor

Old Fool
Elegy for a Monkey

By Hu Fayun [1]

Translated by Paul E. Festa


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August 2017)


Hu Fayun

Old Fool is a tiny monkey.  He’s not a kind of monkey we commonly see, but one that’s on the verge of extinction.

Early last winter, my wife returned from the wet market and reported seeing a peddler selling two tiny monkeys; they were caged in a wire rattrap, curled up pitifully into little balls and huddled together to escape the cold.  Each time my wife returned from the wet market she brought back a few of these heartrending stories: about a wounded muntjac deer with melancholy eyes; about a few small hedgehogs fighting fruitlessly to break free from a nylon net bag; about a row of brilliantly plumaged golden pheasant corpses; about a small squirrel struggling in the scorching sun for its final dying breath; about a clowder of cats crushed together and yowling piteously in chorus. There were also small squawking quail bouncing frenziedly in a basket, bare and bloody from being plucked featherless while alive. There were frogs, tortoises, soft-shelled turtles, and snakes—all of which, as recipes prescribe, had been skinned alive. There were also those docile and adorable pigeons, rabbits, and lambs. For these small creatures, every wet market is their Auschwitz concentration camp. Continue reading

Wu He’s Remains of Life

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
Mike Cormack

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

Reading Chinese Book Review Network

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

Anthologized without being told?

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 <jeffreykinkley@gmail.com

On Listening to Enemy Radio

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/.

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

On Listening to Enemy Radio

By Ah Cheng[1]

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”[2] 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

translation of Gong Zizhen poem?

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.

Stand, special issue on Chinese writing

Stand Issue 213, Volume 15 Number 1

Cover image by Ruihua Zhang

Stand Issue 213, Volume 15 Number 1 (March – May 2017)
Chinese Journeys: a special issue on new Chinese writing featuring poetry, prose, translations and commentary

Table of Contents
http://www.standmagazine.org/current-issue

Frances Weightman, Editorial

Yan Ge 颜 歌, The Panda Suicides Continue reading

I Am Fan Yusu (2)

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

1

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

Iron Moon review (3)

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

Burton Watson, 1925-2017 (3)

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

Literary Translation in Practice 2017

Literary Translation in Practice 26th – 30th June 2017, City University London

Are you a practising professional or a newcomer to the art of translation? Develop your translation skills under the guidance of top professionals at a central London campus. An immersion course in literary translation into English across genres – including selections from fiction. poetry, history, essays, journalism, travel and academic writing – taught by leading literary translators and senior academics, with plenty of opportunities for networking.

• Arabic – Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
• Chinese – Nicky Harman
• French – Trista Selous and Frank Wynne
• German – Shaun Whiteside
• Italian – Howard Curtis
• Japanese-Angus Turvill
• Polish – Antonia Lloyd-Jones
• Portuguese – Daniel Hahn
• Russian – Robert Chandler
• Spanish – Peter Bush
• Swedish – Kevin Halliwell Continue reading

Burton Watson, 1925-2017 (2)

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 <lklein@hku.hk>