Studies in Translation History–cfp

This e-mail is the call for submissions for the latest publication project “Book Series: Young Researchers’ Studies in Translation History” planned by the Research Centre for Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. For more information, please click here.

本電郵為香港中文大學翻譯研究中心最新出版計劃「新芽翻譯史研究論叢」徵稿宣傳郵件。如未能看到以下內容,請點 此處

Eleanor Goodman wins Hanan Prize

Source: Notes on the Mosquito (3/13/20)

The Hanan Prize for Translation (China and Inner Asia) was established in 2015 and is given biennially to an outstanding English translation of a significant work in any genre originally written in Chinese or an Inner Asian Language, from any time period.

This year’s winner is Eleanor Goodman, for The Roots of Wisdom by Zang Di 臧棣 (Zephyr Press).

The Awards Ceremony was going to be at the upcoming AAS annual conference in Boston, MA on Friday, March 20, but the conference has been canceled.

Click here for all this year’s AAS awardees.

Three Brothers

The review neglects to mention that Carlos Rojas is the translator.–Kirk

Source: SCMP (3/8/20)
Yan Lianke’s Three Brothers honours his family and the struggle to survive in mid-20th century China
The book is a memoir of the author’s father and uncles, with a portrait of the young Yan woven in between. Poverty, love and the luxury of happiness are all explored in a poignant story as affecting as any of Yan’s fictions.
By James Kidd

Chinese author Yan Lianke, whose new book, Three Brothers, remembers his father and two uncles. Photo: AFP

Chinese author Yan Lianke, whose new book, Three Brothers, remembers his father and two uncles. Photo: AFP

Yan Lianke is no stranger to writing about himself. He appeared, in subtly altered form, in his 2018 novel, The Day the Sun Died. His new book, Three Brothers, is a memoir, although on more than one occasion readers might find themselves wondering what separates Yan’s fiction from his non-fiction.

The germ of the idea, as he reveals in a preface, was a sudden realisation in 2007 “that four men in my father’s generation – which included three brothers and a cousin – had now departed this world, seeking peace and tran­quillity in another realm”. The specific occasion was the death of his “Fourth Uncle”. It was while the family were paying their respects that Yan’s sister said, “Our father’s generation have now all passed away. Why don’t you write about the three brothers? […] You can also write about yourself – about your youth.” Continue reading

Li Suo poem

Hi, Happy Women’s Day!

Here is a poem by Li Suo 里所. She lives in Beijing and works with books, in connection with Shen Haobo. She was born in Kashgar, left after primary school. Last year she was at Vermont Studio Center, together with Lucas Klein, who translated her poems.

This poem is part of the huge response by Chinese poets to the virus crisis. I found it in a compilation circulated on WeChat that was soon deleted. Many, many links, websites and so on have been deleted in the last few weeks. Don’t know if is still down. Can’t have Chinese rock’n’roll quoting The Internationale to all eternity, can we. Anyway, poetry matters. There was a heated discussion about Tang poetry on boxes from Japan with relief goods form Wuhan. An article in the 长江日报 on February 12 argued against quoting poetry in this context, because Adorno had said writing poetry after Auschwitz was barbaric. That guy received a lot of flak in the following days, some in poems. The poem by Li Suo was probably inspired by a hospital boss in Wuhan who said they didn’t need to care if the women working there had their periods. Don’t remember exactly when. Anyway, huge response. Great poems. Some of it can be found on Poemlife, compiled by 左右: Continue reading

Qinghe Prison

Source: China Channel, LARB (3/3/20)
Qinghe Prison
A short story by Bei Ling, translated by Scott Savitt

Header image by leks from Pixabay

It’s afternoon. I’m being transported in a military jeep. On the road I ask the undercover officer: “Where am I being taken?”

“To a hotel,” the plainclothes officer scoffs.

The jeep is speeding down a newly paved freeway in Beijing’s faceless western outskirts.

The jeep slows down and enters a compound surrounded by a towering wall. An electric fence lines the top of the wall, and armed soldiers man the guard towers.

Next to the iron gate is a sign that says: Qinghe Prison.

I feel like an explosion has gone off in my head. Continue reading

Tang Junyi novella

Source: China Channel, LARB (2/14/20)
Love Tips from a Himalayan Forest
Excerpts from a forgotten Chinese love tract, translated by Jonathan Keir
By Jonathan Keir

In his 1940 novella Aiqing zhi Fuyin, Tang Junyi’s lapsed Zoroastrian protagonist, the deracinated “world philosopher” Delas, embodies the author’s disgust for both communism and capitalism, and his search instead for wartime refuge in a “spiritual philosophy.” Instead of explaining love away in Freudian, Darwinian or other ideological terms, Tang sought to persuade readers that “what we need to do is the opposite, namely to explain the lower spheres of human movement in terms of the higher ones.” Love, for Delas, is best understood as a transcendental source of mystery and wonder – not a predictable, Tinderesque outcome, but a triumph of human free will over such bleak determinism. – Jonathan Keir

The Morality in Love

At this point one of the youths stood up and asked: “Master, allow me to ask a random question. Love should have a single focus; I have seen examples of it in others and experienced it for myself: a concentrated love is the most precious. But I do sometimes wonder why this must be so. I mean, every young person, before she settles on a partner for marriage, considers an enormous field of options; she might at different moments turn her amorous needs and energies on any number of targets. We might even say that she loves all these possibilities. But from the moment she has chosen a long-term partner, her love is suddenly concentrated on one person. Isn’t it a major loss to move from a plethora of potential targets of love down to just one? Why can’t we just live pan-amorously and enrich our love lives accordingly? I don’t need a moral lesson; I need a real reason.” Continue reading

Translating reform era fiction

Source: China Channel, LARB (2/12/20)
Translating Reform Era Fiction
Kevin McGeary talks to the translator of Empires of Dust by Jiang Zilong

Set in the fictional village of Guojiadian, Jiang Zilong’s Empires of Dust is a seven-hundred page tome that chronicles the rise and fall of Guo Cunxian, who transforms from impoverished peasant to formidable businessman. Described by the South China Morning Post as being “as epic, grandiose, ambitious, complex and turbulent as China itself,” this is the tenth novel by Jiang, who is often described as the father of China’s ‘reform literature,’ literature dealing with the reform and opening period after 1978. I caught up with co-translator Christopher Payne to discuss the novel, and the work involved in rendering it into English.

Of all the characters, Guo Cunxian goes through the biggest trajectory, from rejecting the sexual advances of Sister Liu to habitually committing infidelity, from eking out a living making coffins to becoming powerful and corrupt. Does he represent both the heroic and reprehensible qualities that made China’s economic boom possible?

Guo has very humble roots. His family did not participate in the Communist revolution – so no Red history to claim as their own – nor did they join up with the Party to become cadres or other revolutionary workers after 1949. They were the quintessential poor peasant family. This earthiness set Guo’s moral compass: he was the good family man, the good son who led his family after the death of his father. Indeed, his motive for departing Guojiadian in the first instance is to earn money to send back to his mother and younger brother. He does embody the heroic qualities of China’s economic miracle – the initiative, the drive, the thirst to bring wealth to his town, yet it is that very same wealth and power that destroys his moral compass. He loses his earthiness. It’s rather tragic. So yes, I think he does represent what has been both heroic and reprehensible about the dramatic changes China has endured over the course of the reform era. Continue reading

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

cover image

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.

Warwick Tranlates summer school 2020

Warwick Translates Summer School
8-12 July 2020, Warwick University, UK

Following the success of the inaugural Warwick Translates in 2019, we are delighted to announce that the summer school will be returning in 2020. And, as last year, there will be a Chinese-To-English option, with the workshops led by Nicky Harman. This link has details:

Nicky Harman

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

2019 Translations from Chinese

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

cover image

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

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

Ken Liu on Chinese sci-fi

Source: NYT (12/3/19)
Why Is Chinese Sci-Fi Everywhere Now? Ken Liu Knows
The Massachusetts-based translator has done more than anyone to bridge the gap between Chinese science fiction and American readers.
By Alexandra Alter

Ken Liu outside his home in Stoughton, Mass. Credit… Amani Willett for The New York Times

In the fall of 2012, Ken Liu received an intriguing offer from a Chinese company with a blandly bureaucratic name: China Educational Publications Import and Export Corporation, Ltd. It was seeking an English-language translator for a trippy science-fiction novel titled “The Three-Body Problem.” Liu — an American computer programmer turned corporate lawyer turned science-fiction writer — was a natural choice: fluent in Mandarin, familiar with Chinese sci-fi tropes and culture and a rising star in the genre. Liu had only translated short fiction at the time, though, and capturing the novel in all its complexity seemed daunting.

“The Three-Body Problem” was unlike anything Liu had ever read. A mind-bending epic set in Beijing, Inner Mongolia and on a distant planet, the novel was full of heady technical passages about quantum theory, nanotechnology, orbital mechanics and astrophysics, intertwined with profound moral questions about the nature of good and evil and humanity’s place in the universe. Continue reading