Paper Republic newsletter 6

Hi all! I’m going to keep the intro short here for the purpose of expediency – I have deadlines – but fear not, the next issue will contain a big, nutritious portion of editorial.

Top of the agenda are imminent events which will be missed if not signed up for ASAP. First to note is this year’s symposium by the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing (happening this weekend!), and second is translator Christina Ng’s online seminar “Translating Multilingual Texts”, which Catapult have kindly offered our readers a 20% discount for, code below. This doesn’t mean the other events are not worth attending, far from it, but I’ll let you peruse the offerings below at your leisure.

New and aspiring translators, please direct your attention to the news that applications for the 2022 ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program are open! I am now at the tail end of a mentorship with Jeremy Tiang and it has been, and I say this sincerely, a life-changing program. Get applying!

Beyond that there are shining reviews of new and upcoming books (and a not-so-shining review of Jia Zhangke’s latest documentary), a story from the NEW PATHLIGHT ISSUE, extracts from Chen Qiufan’s forthcoming book and from Chan Yu-Ko’s Whisper, and a whole host of interviews with HK & Taiwan authors and translators. And, naturally, so much more… it’s an exciting world out there isn’t it! Continue reading

Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm review

Source: Washington Post (9/29/21)
Review of Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm by Yu Xiuhua, Trans. Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Poet Yu Xiuhua became a viral sensation. Her first book-length collection in English translation deserves to bring her an even bigger audience.
Reviewed by Chris Littlewood

Moonlight Rests on My Left: Poems and Essays By Yu Xiuhua; Translated by Fiona Sze-Lorrain Astra House. 160 pp. $21

Soon after publishing the poem “Crossing Half of China to F— You” on her blog in 2014, Yu Xiuhua rose from obscurity to become one of the most widely read poets of her generation. Discussions of her poetry, and its viral success, were inevitably tied to her life, which made her a singular figure in Chinese poetry: She was born with cerebral palsy, which affected her movement and speech, to a family of farmers who lived in the small village of Hengdian in rural Hubei province, which she had barely left. In China, the shock of her rise was felt like lightning. Now, with the publication of her first book-length collection in English, “Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm,” in a lyrical translation by Fiona Sze-Lorrain, a new audience has a chance to hear the thunderclap.

The book intersperses a selection of Yu’s poems with her essays, arranged in an associative flow that shifts back and forth in time. The ruminative essays, rendered in elegant but somewhat mannered prose, offer context and insight on her life and poetry, but their meanderings can sap the energy of the collection. The poems, which compress her thoughts into daring and disconcerting forms, are another matter. Continue reading

Stories of the White Terror review

Source: Taipei Times
Book review: Fictionalizing Taiwan’s White Terror
Political persecution is revealed as a violence that extends beyond physical abuse to a trauma that scars the soul
By James Baron / Contributing Reporter

Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror, edited by Ian Rowen.

Violence and oppression, we are told in the introduction to this collection of tales, are foundational to modern Taiwan, providing “a legacy that continues to influence its contemporary society.”

It is interesting, then, that an anthology subtitled “Stories about the White Terror,” offers few instances of physical violence, a notable exception being a neighborhood dust-up involving a gossip nicknamed Big Mouth Yang.

This incident, from Sung Tse-lai’s (宋澤萊) “Rice Diary,” is the first snapshot in a montage of quotidian happenings in the village of Daniunan (打牛湳), Yunlin County. The story forms part of a series focusing on life in this village in the 50s and 60s.

At first glance, the squabble is an insignificant personal grievance. Yet, this land rights wrangle points to something deeper. Acknowledging that he could simply divide the disputed property, Big Mouth’s assailant Ban-hok nonetheless concludes that “in this downturn, with so much craziness and thievery all around — well maybe he was thief, too.” Continue reading

Indigenous Taiwan: Transpacific Connections speaker series

Indigenous Taiwan: Transpacific Connections
A virtual speaker series, October-November 2021
Hosted by the Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia
Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China

Indigenous cultures make Taiwan and Canada unique. Taiwan has sixteen officially recognized tribes, and, like Canada, is engaged in ongoing public and community discussions about languages, land rights, self-determination, history, and reconciliation. How is indigenous life being represented and experienced by artists in Taiwan today? What commonalities of history, experience, or imagination might be found between Indigenous people of Taiwan and First Nations of Canada? This fall, join us for the first event of its kind in Canada: a series of conversations with writers and filmmakers who have been at the forefront of sharing Indigenous Taiwan with the world.

Guest speakers:

Writer: Badai
Lecture: Thursday October 14 (4:00p.m PDT.; Online)
Conversation: Friday, October 15 (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), featuring Prof Chiu-Duke Josephine

Filmmaker: Wei Te-sheng
Conversation: Thursday October 21, (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), TBA
Conversation: Friday, October 22, (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), featuring Asst. Prof Aynur Kadir

Writer: Ahronglong Sakinu
TBA: Thursday October 28 (4:00p.m PDT.; Online)
Conversation: Friday October 29, (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), TBA

Filmmaker: Laha Mebow
Lecture: Wednesday November 3,
Conversation: Thursday, November 4, (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), featuring Asst. Prof Aynur Kadir

Register online to reserve your seat and for information on how to access readings and film screenings connected with each live event.

More info: Continue reading

The Stone and the Wireless review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Xuenan Cao’s review of The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861-1906, by Shaoling Ma. 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 Denton, MCLC

The Stone and the Wireless:
Mediating China, 1861-1906

By Shaoling Ma

Reviewed by Xuenan Cao

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2021)

Shaoling Ma, The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861-1906 Durham: Duke University Press, 2021. ix+312 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4780-1147-7 (paper) / 978-1-4780-1046-3 (cloth).

The Stone and the Wireless is a convincing critique of the notion that China lacked communication networks before the advent of Western technoscience. The book undermines any simplistic answer to the Needham Question (a.k.a., “the ‘Needham paradigm’ postulating the supposed absence of modern science in China,” 10), instead tracing a complex web of media technologies in the late Qing period (1861-1906). Ma documents the variety of strategies Qing diplomats, writers, poets, and other media practitioners employed in their efforts to make sense of the era by tinkering with existing technologies through the practical use of technoscience. Ma sheds light on imaginary strategies as well—unrealized media scenarios that nonetheless helped shape the narrative of communication in the late Qing, as found in (gendered) Techno-utopian visions of the future.

The book covers the period from 1861, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established, to 1906, when the Ministry of Posts and Communications centralized all “transmissions.” This unconventional periodization of the late Qing marks the object of study: mediation. Although “media” as a term in Chinese did not exist in the second half of the nineteenth century, devices and technologies weighed heavily on the minds of those who did not have the vocabulary to describe their experience in a time of transition. Ma proposes to synthesize devices, sciences, and sensitivities, defining “mediation” as “the dynamic interactions between the material and technical process or device, and its discursive significations in texts and images” (5). Mediation enacts a “cleaving and bridging of technics and signification,” which Ma describes, citing Xiao Liu, as a “‘worlding’ process” of “temporal and spatial reorganization” and “generates new relations, conflicts, and negotiations” (5). Continue reading

Unconventional Storytellers in Modern East Asian Fiction and Film–cfp

CFP: “Unconventional Storytellers in Modern East Asian Fiction and Film,” ACLA 2022 Panel

This seminar discusses how, in modern East Asian fiction and film, atypical narrators add a dimension to the stories they tell. These unconventional narrators are often secondary, insignificant characters with minimal relevance to the main events. Sometimes, they exhibit noticeable inconsistency with the main characters’ emotions and intentions. In some extreme cases, even the events presented are beyond the scope of what they can reasonably see and hear. In other cases, although the narrators are important figures in the narratives, they are distant from the temporality and spatiality of the events and thus display a certain degree of emotional and cognitive detachment. These narrators add structural complexity by constituting a narrative frame outside the main narrative and/or cause instability in the narrative focus and uncertainty in the meaning conveyed.

Is their existence necessary? This is the fundamental question we seek to address. In some cases, they seem to be detrimental to the sense of unity in structure and meaning in the narrative. In other cases, they cause the audience’s doubt in the credibility of the narration and puzzlement about the authorial intent. In this regard, should we view them as an artistic flaw? Or, in fact, do these narrators fill the gaps in the narrative and imply the self-questioning of singular meaning, by which means the diversity and variability of viewpoints are highlighted?

The papers in this seminar will discuss the unique narrator phenomena in modern East Asian fiction and film to explore the multiple roles of narrators in literary and cinematic texts and argue whether these narrators create a meaningful tension between narration and interpretation.

If interested in joining the panel, please submit a 250-word abstract through the ACLA website or contact the organizer Yun A Lee at

Chinese Poetry and Translation review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Michel Hockx’s review of Chinese Poetry and Translation: Rights and Wrongs, edited by Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein. 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 Denton, MCLC

Chinese Poetry and Translation:
Rights and Wrongs

Edited by Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein

Reviewed by Michel Hockx

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2021)

Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein, eds., Chinese Poetry and Translation: Rights and Wrongs. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019. 355 pp. OPEN SOURCE ISBN: 9789462989948 (Hardback).

This is a very rich collection of essays showcasing a range of approaches to the study and practice of Chinese poetry translation. The editors are both leading scholars of Chinese poetry, as well as highly experienced poetry translators in their own right. Their efforts bring together an intellectually diverse yet coherent set of papers by a group of individuals who clearly have engaged actively and productively with one another’s work, despite their sometimes considerable differences in background and approach. Published by Amsterdam University Press, the book is an open access publication, freely downloadable through the OAPEN platform.

Translation Studies is a vibrant, highly interdisciplinary field. It is also still a relatively young field, as evidenced by the fact that publications by translation scholars often tend to sound somewhat defensive of their own enterprise. The case still needs to be made, again and again, that translations are worth studying in their own right; that translators need to be recognized as creative writers; that studying translation is not about finding “mistakes”; and that, in the case of poetry especially, nothing gets “lost” in translation. In their brief introduction to Chinese Poetry and Translation, van Crevel and Klein state their case succinctly and elegantly by offering the metaphor of the triptych: a tripartite structure that invites intellectual movement beyond simple binaries and toward thinking in three terms: China + poetry + translation, or (referencing Walter Benjamin) source language + target language + third language. They add to this a healthy dose of irony, by openly censoring Robert Frost’s infamous quote about poetry translation, and by subtitling their collection Rights and Wrongs, which is only a binary if you believe that these terms are mutually exclusive. Continue reading

Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Poets since 1949 review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jenn Marie Nunes’ review of Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Poets since 1949, edited by Christopher Lupke and Thomas Moran. The review appears below and at its online home:

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Dictionary of Literary Biography:
Chinese Poets since 1949

Edited by Christopher Lupke and Thomas Moran

Reviewed by Jenn Marie Nunes

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2021)

Christopher Lupke and Thomas Moran, eds., Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chinese Poets Since 1949, Volume 387. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, A Cengage Company, 2021. 461 pages. ISBN 9781410395948 (hardcover)

This volume of the Dictionary of Literary Biography presents an engaging selection of contemporary Chinese poets (see here for complete table of contents), compiled for anyone interested in compact and yet detailed introductions to those poets’ lives. In terms of selection, Chinese Poets Since 1949 (CPS) focuses on award-winning literary figures who have made well-documented contributions to contemporary Chinese poetics from various places inside and outside of official poetry arena(s) and along the spectrum from, to borrow Maghiel van Crevel’s terms, “elevated” to “earthly” (and otherwise experimental ideologies and aesthetics). Moreover, in defining “Chinese poets,” editors Christopher Lupke and Thomas Moran look beyond the geo-political border of the Chinese state and include those who write in Chinese language and are located in Taiwan and Hong Kong (although here the volume comes up a little short). The editors clarify that this is not meant to imply anything about the political relationship between these geographical areas, but they are also careful to emphasize that the poetic traditions in these three places “have developed distinctive characteristics, even while sharing a heritage and influencing one another” (xxi). As such, this is a text that pushes gently in the direction of Sinophone literary studies. Continue reading

Chinese Literature and Culture in the Era of Global Capitalism

Dear Colleagues,

I’m happy to announce the publication of my new book Chinese Literature and Culture in the Era of Global Capitalism: Renaissance or Rehabilitation? (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2021). Combining anatomies of textual examples with broader contextual considerations related with the social, political and economic developments of post-Mao China, Xiaoping Wang intends to explore newly emerging social and cultural trends in contemporary China, and find the truth content of Chinese society and culture in the age of global capitalism. Through in-depth textual analyses covering a variety of media, ranging from fiction, poetry, film to theoretical works as well as cultural phenomena which mirror social and cultural occurrences and reflect the present ideological proclivities of the Chinese society, this study offers timely interpretations of China in the age of globalization, its political inclinations, social fashions and cultural tendencies, and provides thought-provoking messages of China’s socio-economic and political reality.

For more details, click the following link,

Continue reading

Information Fantasies review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Rui Kunze’s review of Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China, by Xiao Liu. The review appears below and at its online home: . My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Information Fantasies
Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China

By Xiao Liu

Reviewed by Rui Kunze

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2021)

Xiao Liu, Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019. 318 pp. ISBN 978-1-5179-0274-2 (paper);
ISBN 978-1-5179-0273-5 (cloth).

With its changes and unrealized possibilities, 1980s China has lasting appeal to scholars. Pioneering works such as High Culture Fever: Politics, Aesthetics, and Ideology in Deng’s China (1996) by Wang Jing and Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms: Cultural Fever, Avant-Garde Fiction, and the New Chinese Cinema (1996) by Zhang Xudong have critically examined the aesthetics and intellectual history of this decade vis-à-vis political and social transformations. Among the growing scholarship that continues to explore the problems and potentials of this transitional decade, Xiao Liu’s Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China is one of the most ambitious works in methodology and scope. Combining the methods of media studies and cultural studies, this book charts “a landscape in which the high-end scientific studies in the areas of information and AI research interacted and intersected with the dissemination of scientific knowledge through popular science journals and with popular imaginations in fiction and films that reflected on the social consequences of new technologies” (32). Taking into account the multiplicity of epistemologies, technologies, intellectual ideas, and aesthetic practices in this decade of transformation, Liu’s book excavates abundant heretofore unexamined source materials and probes their connections, contradictions, and contentions, as well as implications for China’s later integration into global capitalism and its information systems. Continue reading

Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm

Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm by Yu Xiuhua, Trans. by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. Published by Astra House, 2021

Starting with the viral poem “Crossing Half of China to Fuck You,” Yu Xiuhua’s raw collection in Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s translation chronicles her life as a disabled, divorced, single mother in rural China.

Yu Xiuhua was born with cerebral palsy in Hengdian village in the Hubei Province, in central China. Unable to attend college, travel, or work the land with her parents, Yu remained home where she could help with housework. Eventually she was forced into an arranged marriage that became abusive. She divorced her husband and moved back in with her parents, taking her son with her.

In defiance of the stigma attached to her disability, her status as a divorced single mother, and as a peasant in rural China, Yu found her voice in poetry. Starting in the late 90s, her writing became a vehicle with which to explore and share her reflections on homesickness, family and ancestry, the reality of disability in the context of a body’s urges and desires. Continue reading

‘Words as Grain’ review

Drew Calvert reviews Words as Grain by Duo Duo

Drew Calvert’s review of my translation of Words as Grain: New and Selected Poems of Duo Duo 多多 (The Cecile and Theodore Margellos World Republic of Letters, Yale University Press) has been published on Asymptote.

Lucas Klein <>

Paper Republic 5

Autumn is here, a time of year I actually really like, and there’s certainly a lot to celebrate at the moment! On a personal note, I might be able to travel to the American Literary Translator’s Association conference next month, the virtual leg of which has already started. Then there’s the approaching completion of a big Paper Republic project which a few of the members have been plugging away at for over a year by now, and which has involved contributions from tens of wonderful people at this point. Watch this space.

On top of those, it’s what is, I suppose, an unofficial award season in the world of translated literature, or at least one of them. And there are plenty of congratulations to go around: Sanmao, Mike Fu, Can Xue, Karen Gernant, Chen Zeping, Ge Fei, Canaan Morse, Chiou Charng-Ting, May Huang, Tracy K. Smith, Changtai Bi, David Hinton…

There are also a number of exciting events coming up, one of which involves Nicky Harman, in conversation with Jun Liu, and another which will be led by Jennifer Wong. Booking information can be found via the links below.

Last but not least — although this is a different kind of announcement to the ones above — if you are an author, translator, publisher or organisation with a Chinese-literature related event coming up and you’d like to share some information about it, say a few words, share an idea you have, please do get in touch and we’ll feature you/it in an upcoming newsletter both on the site and in the email version (which you can sign up to here). Continue reading

Journal of Literary Multilingualism–cfp

CFP: Journal of Literary Multilingualism Special Issue “Literary Multilingualism Studies: The Future of the Field”

Literary multilingualism studies is a relatively new but burgeoning area of research. With the impact of translation studies, the “transnational turn” within literary studies, and the growing relevance of the ‘postmonolingual condition’ in the contemporary world, multilingual and translingual writing practices – considered in the past to be exceptional and unusual – are now at the forefront of literary studies.

Scholars from a diverse range of linguistic, cultural, political, disciplinary and theoretical positions are contributing to the field, engaging with literature of all periods and all parts of the world. This rich diversity, however, means that there is currently little consensus on established terminology and on how ‘literary multilingualism’ might be defined. In addition to this, scholarship is fragmented in the sense that scholars engaging in one field of the discipline are often unaware of work being done in others. There is thus a strong need for more dialogue.

For this inaugural issue of the Journal for Literary Multilingualism we invite scholars to engage in a dynamic assessment of the field and its future. What are the key questions and debates at stake within literary multilingualism studies? What terminology is essential to the study of literary multilingualism and how do we define those terms? What future directions does the field need to take? We also invite provocations and critiques of literary multilingualism studies thus far: what are its absences and blind spots? Which aspects of literary multilingualism have been neglected? Continue reading