Two new ‘ethnic’ novels from China for 2020

Source: Paper Republic (1/26/20)
Two New “Ethnic” Novels from China for 2020
By Bruce Humes

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Two potentially controversial novels — one by a Uyghur author, and the other by a Tibetan — have recently been published in English. They are part of the Kaleidoscope Series of China’s Ethnic Authors sponsored by China Translation & Publishing House, a dozen or so novels by authors that highlight tales in which non-Han culture, motifs and characters play a key role (民族题材文学).

Patigül’s Bloodline (百年血脉) relates the semi-autobiographical tale of a Xinjiang native, daughter of a Uyghur father and Hui mother, who marries a Han, and struggles to bring up a family in mainstream Chinese society. Told in the first person, it unflinchingly describes her mother’s mental illness, her brother’s agonizing death from an STD and tribulations of a “mixed” marriage. For an English excerpt, visit here.

Tsering Norbu’s Prayers in the Wind (祭语风中) narrates the subsequent life of a Buddhist monk who attempts — unsuccessfully — to exit China in the wake of the 1959 Tibetan uprising and the Dalai Lama’s flight to India. For an excerpt, visit here.

Manchukuo Perspectives

Manchukuo Perspectives: Transnational Approaches to Literary Production
Edited by Annika A. Culver and Norman Smith
Hong Kong University Press, December 2019
328 pp., 6″ x 9″, 17 illustrations HB ISBN 978-988-8528-13-4 Price: HK$520 / US$70

“This first-rate collection offers the most comprehensive overview of Manchukuo literature in any language. Containing an abundance of very original research and analysis, with relevant references to diverse sources in Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, and Russian, the essays will be welcomed by scholars dealing with literary, historical, political, and colonization issues in Manchukuo and its neighbors.”—Ronald Suleski, Suffolk University, Boston

“Manchukuo Perspectives is an excellent contribution to the field. Manchukuo was a fascinating and fraught experiment. Colonialism, imperialism, modernism, and nationalism were just some of the many different forces at play there. With an impressive set of contributors bringing both breadth and depth to the study of these issues, this collection fills a void in our understanding of the cultural and literary production of Manchukuo wonderfully.”—James Carter, Saint Joseph’s University Continue reading

The Culture of Love in China and Europe

The Culture of Love in China and Europe, by Paolo Santangelo and Gábor Boros (Brill 2019)

In The Culture of Love in China and Europe Paolo Santangelo and Gábor Boros offer a survey of the cults of love developed in the history of ideas and literary production in China and Europe between the 12th and early 19th century. They describe parallel evolutions within the two cultures, and how innovatively these independent civilisations developed their own categories and myths to explain, exalt but also control the emotions of love and their behavioural expressions. The analyses contain rich materials for comparison, point out the universal and specific elements in each culture, and hint at differences and resemblances, without ignoring the peculiar beauty and attractive force of the texts cultivating love.

Concerning China, a short survey of theoretical elaborations will cover the millennium from the Song dynasty (960–1279) to the beginning of the 19th century: this period starts from a new phase in Chinese history – according to some historians from the beginning of modern society – and includes early contacts with the west and the first phase of globalisation, before the Opium Wars. The reflection on the literary production will focus on the period of the last two dynasties, Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911), until the beginning of the 19th century. After dealing with the evolution of Neo-Confucian thought on love and emotions, the first question concerns the so-called “cult of qing”, its scope and consistency, and the main themes proposed by its supporters. Secondary questions concern the meaning of “genuine” love and emotions, and the construction of a rhetoric of love, its symbolism and mythology. Examining the rich and varied range of differing attitudes, concepts and approaches and different cases through the creation of fantasy, we see various perceptions. One of the key questions concerns the difference between love and lust, and the role of desires. Some paragraphs are dedicated to the language of seduction and the conditions of deregulation of love rules that help to understand some theories on the process of transmission of emotional codes and falling in love. Two other interesting topics concern the virtuous characters of the correct sexual union (legitimate conjugal love) and the role of the elaboration of the art of the bedchamber and all skills of erotic positions. Gender roles in love is evident in narrative and is reflected in the new male hero, in the active heroines, both shrews or benevolent lovers, fox spirits and femme fatale. We can finally tell of a love-death dyad in Chinese culture and some dark and polluting aspects perceived in love, as well as the dialectical transitions between dream and reality. Continue reading

Liu Cixin’s stories adapted to graphic novels

Source: China Daily (12/16/19)
Possibilities of mind and matter
By Mei Jia | China Daily

Zhang Xiaoyu’s comic presentation of Liu Cixin’ novella The Village Teacher tells the story of an advanced alien civilization and its threat to Earth.

A new project is set to turn Liu Cixin’s stories into an international series of graphic novels, Mei Jia reports.

Author Liu Cixin’s stories will be turned into comic strips and published as graphic novels in China and France starting in March.

In Japan, The Three-Body Problem, the first book in Liu’s science-fiction trilogy, won the 2019 Booklog Award as the best foreign novel. Some 2 million copies of the books have been sold in 25 languages, according to the Chinese publisher.

During this year’s China Science Fiction Convention in November, critics and researchers agreed that Chinese science-fiction works are gaining more international attention than ever before. Continue reading

TIBE book prize winners announced in Taipei

Source: Taiwan Today (1/3/2020)
TIBE Book Prize winners announced in Taipei

Winners of the fiction (front) and nonfiction categories in this year’s TIBE Book Prize are displayed at a news conference Jan. 2 in Taipei City. (Courtesy of Ministry of Culture)

Winners of the 2020 Taipei International Book Exhibition Book Prize were announced Jan. 2, showcasing Taiwan’s tremendous depth of publishing talent.

The Chinese-language awards recognize three writers each for the categories of fiction, nonfiction and children and young adults, as well as a single recipient for editing.

Chen Shu-yao [陳淑瑤], Lee Wei-jing [李維菁] and Lolita Hu [胡晴舫] won the fiction prizes. Chen’s novel tells the story of a single middle-aged women who accompanies her mother to face the challenges of loneliness and growing old.

Lee, who passed away in 2018, was honored posthumously for her novel of self-discovery about a woman who takes up ballroom dancing as she tries to recover from childhood abuse. Hu’s work examines various topics of societal debate, including student movements, same-sex marriage legalization and the impact of social media. Continue reading

Hong Kong’s sickness

Source: China Channel, LARB (12/13/19)
Hong Kong’s Sickness
By [韓麗珠], tr. by
Hong Kong writer Hon Lai-chu on a city divided – trans. Andrea Lingenfelter

Header: Anti-extradition bill protest at Shatin, Hong Kong, in July. (Studio Incendo on Flickr)

Translator’s note: Hon Lai Chu, an award-winning writer from Hong Kong, wrote this essay at the end of August. At that time, her neighborhood of Tsuen Wan was the scene of violent clashes between police and demonstrators. In early September, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the extradition bill that initially sparked the protests would be withdrawn, yet the gesture was seen as too little too late, and it was not until October 23 that the bill was formally withdrawn. Demonstrations continued, and the situation has become increasingly volatile, with Polytechnic University under siege in mid November, and a December 8 march drawing an estimated 800,000 participants.

In her essay, Hon Lai Chu writes of the loss of public trust, and references one of Hong Kong’s formerly most beloved and reliable institutions, the MTR metro system, which has periodically closed stations to make it more difficult for people to reach demonstrations. There have also been numerous documented instances of police brutality, as well as organized attacks on protesters by members of organized crime, while police have turned a blind eye. As Hon Lai Chu observes, like teargas residue (which left this writer with a headache and watery eyes after a brief visit to a shopping mall in Mongkok), the after-effects of this conflict will linger long after the crisis has been resolved. – Andrea Lingenfelter

Hong Kong these days is like a body afflicted with a malignant tumor: the mind is unwilling to acknowledge the tumor’s existence and only wants to clean up the annoying but superficial daily signs of disease; yet the heart is plagued by unease. Illness is an ongoing struggle in the body, and only a healthy person has the strength to withstand the battle between good cells and bad cells. Whether we’re talking about one person or an entire city, a bout of sickness represents an opportunity for deeply seated problems to be cured. Although a body that has never known illness may continue to function normally, when toxins accumulate and cannot be easily expelled, the condition can be fatal. Continue reading

2019 Publications in Chinese

Source: Paper Republic (12/21/19)
2019 Publications in Chinese
By David Haysom

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As the year comes to a close, we’ve asked authors, translators, editors, and other friends of Paper Republic to recommend notable books published in Chinese in 2019 – translations into Chinese as well as original works. The resultant lists gives an insight into the titles that have made an impression this year – and perhaps offers a preview of some of the books we can hope to see available in English soon!

==================================

阿乙 A Yi

ge feilin peiqing zhou yunpeng

MOON OVER THE ABANDONED TEMPLE (月落荒寺)
BY 格非 GE FEI

THE PRODIGY AND THE TAPE DECK (神童与录音机)
BY 林培源 LIN PEIYUAN

I would like to recommend Moon Over the Abandoned Temple, the new novel by Ge Fei, professor at Tsinghua University, and the short story collection The Prodigy and the Tape Deck, by his acolyte Lin Peiyuan. In the past I have read many international works of fiction by the intelligentsia, and now the work coming out of academia in China is growing in force, as well as influence. The strength of academic authors lies in the quantity of literature to which they are exposed, in their constant introspection, and in active experimentation. This has been particularly evident in Ge Fei’s two most recent novels, Invisibility Cloak and Moon Over the Abandoned Temple. Continue reading

Unofficial Poetry Journals from China

Dear MCLC List members,

Leiden University Libraries holds an internationally unique Special Collection of unofficial (minjian) poetry journals from China.

These journals travel widely among Chinese poets, critics, and researchers. As such, they are hugely influential. But paradoxically, they are difficult to access, sometimes to the point of becoming almost legendary — because they generally operate outside the official infrastructure of bookstores and libraries.

Now, a digital collection of twelve early items in the Leiden collection (about 1000 pages in all) is full-text available online, for students, educators, researchers and other readers.

This pilot project was undertaken in close collaboration with the editors of the journals in question. Fundraising efforts to digitize more material are underway.

The entry page offers a list of related content, including a web lecture by Maghiel van Crevel, with abundant visuals and intended as an educational resource. (Rotate the prezi / slides / speaker screens using the pop-up button in the top right corner of the biggest screen.) Continue reading

2019 Translations from Chinese

Source: Paper Republic (12/13/19)
2019 Translations from Chinese
By Nicky Harman

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Here’s our roll-call of books translated from Chinese in 2019

There’s (almost) something for everyone this year – scifi and Singapore fiction have a strong showing, as do pre-modern classics, and even one self-help book. But still, fewer translated works were published in 2019 than in 2018 (28, as against nearly 40 in 2018 ) Worst of all, only four of the 28 listed below are women writers. Every year, novels that are funny, sharp, moving and entertaining are published in the Chinese-speaking world – there is plenty for publishers and literary agents to seek out. We at Paper Republic continue to work hard to bring our favourite novels to their attention. (Watch out for our list of 2019 publications in Chinese, to be posted next week.) Read on

On the literary prizes front, there has been one recent piece of good news: the Society of Authors TA First Translation Prize has two Chinese novels on the shortlist of six! Shortlisted are: Natascha Bruce and her editor Jeremy Tiang for a translation of Lonely Face by Singapore author Yeng Pway Ngon (Balestier Press, 2019), and William Spence and his editor Tomasz Hoskins for The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by Xinran Xue Xinran (I. B. Tauris, 2018). Especially cheering is the diversity of these entries: a Chinese work from Singapore, and a work of non-fiction by Xinran, a Chinese woman based in the UK who writes best-selling reportage about China. So, to Tascha and Will and their authors and editors, 加油! And to our readers, keep an eye out for the results, to be announced in February 2020. Continue reading

Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals review

MCLC is pleased to announce publication of Els van Dongen’s review of Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals (Columbia UP, 2019), by Sebastian Veg. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/vandongen/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Minjian:
The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals

By Sebastian Veg


Reviewed by Els van Dongen
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December, 2019)


Sebastian Veg. Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. ix + 352 pgs. ISBN: 9780231191401 (hardcover); ISBN: 9780231549400 (e-book).

“Traditional Chinese scholar-officials are today known as intellectuals. This is however not merely a change in name—it is a change in essence. In fact, this change is the shift of intellectuals from the center to the margin.”[1] Thus stated the intellectual historian Yü Ying-shih in an article published in the Hong Kong-based journal Twenty-first Century (二十一世纪) in August 1991. According to Yü, along with the transformation of traditional scholars (士) into modern intellectuals (知识分子) following the abolition of the examination system in 1905 came a gradual political, social, and cultural “marginalization” (边缘化). Modern intellectuals became, echoing Karl Mannheim, “free-floating.” This marginalization continued unabated—even intensified—through the Mao era and beyond. With Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour, 1992’s Fourteenth Party Congress, the commercialization of Chinese society, and the emergence of a new media landscape, traditional notions of Chinese scholars as moral saviors and members of a select club of luminaries have been even further transformed and/or subverted. As the philosopher Chen Lai 陈来 observed, in reform-era China, the public appeared to be more captivated by pop idol TV shows such as Super Girl (超级女声) than by the musings of intellectuals.[2] Concurrently, the repression of the Tiananmen demonstrations effectively ended the already shaky alliance between intellectuals and the state, leaving the “Enlightenment” ideals of the 1980s in tatters. Echoing Yü, we might say the early 1990s marked the double marginalization of traditional Chinese academic intellectuals by the state and the market. Hence, what did it mean to be a Chinese intellectual from the 1990s onwards? How did Chinese intellectuals perceive themselves and their relationship with the state and society? How did they adjust their approaches to changing realities? Continue reading

HK poet Mary Jean Chan wows Britain

Source: SCMP (12/5/19)
How Hong Kong poet Mary Jean Chan is wowing Britain’s literary circles with first collection, Flèche
Since moving to London, Chan has been named among top 10 most influential BAME writers in Britain. In 2017, aged 27, she became youngest shortlisted nominee for Forward Prize for a single poem
By James Kidd

Hong Kong poet Mary Jean Chan at the Forward Arts Prizes 2017, in London, Britain. Photo: Adrian Pope

Hong Kong poet Mary Jean Chan at the Forward Arts Prizes 2017, in London, Britain. Photo: Adrian Pope

The business school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong has not perhaps inspired many poets. But when Mary Jean Chan describes her journey to becoming one of the world’s most promising and admired young writers, she names her decision to leave the business school as a pivotal moment.

“It was desperation really,” she says. “I was in a very bad place bordering on depression. My parents saw that and knew something had to change.”

Talking to 29-year-old Chan a decade later, in her adopted home city of London, it’s hard to believe she enrolled in the first place. Sensitive and thoughtful, she seems the antithesis of a hardbitten banker or financier. “I always knew I didn’t have a talent for numbers. Maths was my worst subject. My parents were taken aback [by her decision to leave]. My teachers wanted to talk about it.” Continue reading

Vol. 31, no. 2 of MCLC

MCLC is pleased to announce the imminent publication of vol. 31, no. 2 (Fall 2019), a special issue on “Reportage and Its Contemporary Variations,” guest edited by Charles Laughlin and Li Guo. Below, find the table of contents, with links to a pdf of the introduction and to abstracts of the esssays. Subscribers will be receiving their copies over the next couple of weeks. If you would like to purchase a copy of this issue, subscribe to the journal, or inquire about the status of an existing subscription, please contact Mario De Grandis (mclc@osu.edu).

Kirk Denton, editor

Volume 31, Number 2 (Fall 2019) 

Special Issue on Reportage and its Contemporary Variations
Guest Editors Charles Laughlin and Li Guo

Articles

Interview with Poet Ye Lijun

Source: Kenyon Review (12/3/19)
Living and Writing in Lishui: Interview with Contemporary Chinese Poet Ye Lijun
Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Cover of My Mountain CountryBorn in 1972 in Lishui, Zhejiang Province to an impoverished family, Ye Lijun [叶丽隽] worked as a junior high art teacher and arts administrator for intangible cultural heritage. The author of three poetry titles, she has received several literary honors in China. Currently, she resides in her native city Lishui where she works as an editor. Her first bilingual volume of poetry My Mountain Country, in Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s translation, is published by World Poetry Books.

Fiona Sze-Lorrain: My Mountain Country is a collection that believes in nature first and foremost. Do you consider yourself a nature poet, if not a contemporary Chinese pastoral poet?

Ye Lijun: I feel and think of myself as a nature poet, not a contemporary Chinese pastoral poet.

Sze-Lorrain: In several instances, your poems hint at our failure to honor nature, or give ourselves up (and in) to it, as we ought to. In “Chronicle of Mount White Cloud,” for example,

Two young clouds leaning close
stir a puddle with naked toes. A mountain breeze
Pine needles feel too soft under my feet
My heart throbs
I don’t know how to walk
to place myself safely in this mountain

Do you think poetry can function as an effective vehicle that raises awareness of our climate changes and problems? Continue reading

How to survive as a woman at a Chinese banquet

Source: NYT (11/30/19)
How to Survive as a Woman at a Chinese Banquet
Important: Always know when you’re “the girl.”
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Yan Ge

[Ms. Yan is the author of 13 books, including, most recently, “The Chilli Bean Paste Clan.”]

Credit…Lisk Feng

A Chinese banquet can be many things, but it is never a gastronomic occasion.

It is more like a sport, one in which the primary goal is to drink a toast with each individual sitting around the table, in a rigid successive order, starting with the most prominent and proceeding clockwise. If that sounds straightforward, it isn’t: Bear in mind that everyone at the table is playing the same game simultaneously, which means just as you’ve homed in on your target and are ready to make your move, he could be raising a toast to another guest, who could very well be looking to drink with someone else.

Other rules: Make sure to turn the shot of baijiu bottoms up with every encounter; say flattering words in your toast, but nothing too flowery; appear cordial and personable; smile, but avoid inappropriate body contact. Finally, while you’re busy circling the table, don’t forget to eat. Continue reading

Literary reference backfires

Source: China Media Project (12/5/19)
A LITERARY REFERENCE BACKFIRES
by  | Dec 5, 2019

A Literary Reference Backfires

Xianglin Sao in the 1956 film adaptation of Lu Xun’s story.

On December 3, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hu Chunying (华春莹) held a press conference at which a journalist asked about a recent op-ed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo published through the US news site POLITICO, in which he said that in light of security concerns over 5G technology “it’s critical that European countries not give control of their critical infrastructure to Chinese tech giants like Huawei, or ZTE.”

Pompeo’s remarks included a range of accusations against Huawei in particular, noting its links to the Chinese military, charges that it engaged in espionage in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Poland, and allegations that it stole intellectual property from countries such as Germany and Israel. Pompeo also pointed to Chinese state subsidies for Huawei as evidence of unfair practices that “undercut prices offered by market-based rivals.” Continue reading