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

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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.

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:

https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/wtss/

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

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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

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

Chinese Poetry and Translation

We are pleased to announce publication of Chinese Poetry and Translation: Rights and Wrongs (Amsterdam University Press, 2019). Open access download here. Order print copies here.

CHINESE POETRY AND TRANSLATION: RIGHTS AND WRONGS
edited by Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein

Table of contents:

Introduction: The Weird Third Thing
Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein

Part One: The Translator’s Take

(1) Sitting with Discomfort: A Queer-Feminist Approach to Translating Yu Xiuhua
Jenn Marie Nunes

(2) Working with Words: Poetry, Translation, and Labor
Eleanor Goodman Continue reading

Winners of 11th Fu Lei Awards unveiled

Source: China Daily (11/25/19)
Winners of the 11th Fu Lei Translation and Publishing Awards unveiled

[Photo/CGTN]

The winners of the 11th Fu Lei Translation and Publishing Awards were unveiled in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province on Saturday.

Jin Longge won the top award for literature for the translation of Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s “Castle to Castle,” and the top award for social sciences went to Zhang Gen for his translation of “Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth” by Michel Foucault.

Kong Qian was honored as Best New Translator for translating Kaouther Adimi’s “Our Wealth.”

A total of 44 works competed for this year’s award, including 29 in social sciences and 15 in literature. In September, a list of 10 finalists was announced at a news conference in Beijing. Continue reading

Chinese translation in Spain

Dear colleagues,

TXICC research group (Translation from Chinese into Spanish/Catalan) is glad to announce the publication of two open-access databases which are the result of years of research by some of its researchers.

On the one hand, “El cine chino traducido en España” (Chinese cinema translated in Spain) contains all the films originally produced in Chinese-speaking areas that have arrived in Spain through different channels, such as cinemas, festivals or online platforms. This database seeks to offer a real image of the type of Chinese cinema that arrives in Spain, as well as to provide data to analyse cinema from the perspective of audiovisual translation.

On the other hand, “La literatura china traducida en España” (Chinese literature translated in Spain) is a twin database compiling all the Chinese literature published in Spain and translated into any of its official languages. Its main aim is to provide empirical data to analyse different aspects of Chinese literature through a literary translation lens, e.g. translators’ (in)visibility or the impact of certain literary works through their different editions and translations. Continue reading

A century of China’s new poetry

Source: China Channel, LARB (11/4/19)
A Century of China’s New Poetry
By Kerry Shawn Keys and Ming Di

Six poems by Mo Yan and others, spanning generations – edited by Ming Di
Selected from New Poetry From China: 1917-2017

China’s New Poetry Movement was started in Beijing in 1917 by Hu Shi (1891–1962) and reinforced by the May 4th Movement in 1919. But what was its aesthetic goal, what influence does it still exert on cultural life in China, and what has been challenged? New Poetry From China: 1917-2017, a new anthology, tries to address the many dimensions of the movement, covering works from most of the important poets still relevant today. 120 poets were selected, from Hu Shi to contemporary voices, including dissident poets. Mo Yan and Liu Xiaobo are back to back on the pages, and many other poets are translated into English for the first time. Two major traditions within the New Poetry Movement have been pushing each other forward: Spoken Language Poetry and Neoclassical Poetry, both are experimental in language and form but with different approaches. We hope you enjoy this small sample of six poems below, representing the span of different generations of poets, from Zheng Min, born in 1920, to Su Xiaoyan born in 1992. – Ming Di

Golden Rice Sheaves
Zheng Min 郑敏

Golden rice stands in sheaves
in the newly cut autumn field.
I think of droves of exhausted mothers,
I see rugged faces along the road at dusk.
On the day of harvest, a full moon hangs
atop the towering trees,
and in the twilight, distant mountains
approach my heart.
Nothing is more quiet than this, a statue
shouldering so much weariness—
you lower your head in thought
in the unending autumn field.
Silence. Silence. History is nothing
but a small stream flowing under your feet.
You stand where the rice is, your thought
becoming a thought of the human race.

Translated from Chinese by Ming Di and Kerry Shawn Keys Continue reading

Going Home

Source: China Channel, LARB (11/8/19)
Going Home
By  and 

Taiwanese fiction by Loa Ho, translated by Darryl Sterk
Editor’s note: Loa Ho (賴和), also known as Lazy Cloud, was a Taiwanese poet, born in 1894. A doctor by profession, it was his contribution to the literary republic – overlooked today – that led him to be hailed as the “father of modern Taiwanese literature.” This 1932 story, translated and republished in the new collection Scales of Injustice, was first published in the founding issue of Voice of the South (南音), a literary journal where Taiwanese cultural elites hoped to communicate with the wider public.

If a product is not up to standard in the factory you still have the chance to fix it, but if it makes it all the way to the market and customers don’t like it, it’s useless and will get thrown away. That’s how I felt when I arrived home after graduating from university, like a reject. It was an unpleasant homecoming.

Several days after I got home I lost the courage to go out, because every time I did I met relatives or friends who would say, “Congratulations, you graduated!” Which I found terrifying, because it would remind me that I had left the factory and was en route to the market. In the first few days, of course, I was happy to be reunited with my family after a long absence. I didn’t yet feel lonely. But soon I was used to being home again and realized all the adults in the family were busy, and that most of my younger brothers and sisters were still in school. Playing with the youngest, who were not yet old enough for school, made me happy, but it was embarrassing when I tried to discipline them, because they would always start crying. I really didn’t know how to comfort them. Even playing with them, I often made them cry, which opened me to complaints from the one who was actually responsible for taking care of the kids. So I just sat around at home and felt bored and useless. Continue reading

Notes on the Pekingese

List members may be interested in my translation of a novella by Takbum Gyel, a writer from Qinghai who is well established in the Tibetan literary world. “Notes on the Pekingese” is a surrealist story about ethnic politics and social climbing set in a local government office in Tibet. You can find it here, published as an ebook by Ploughshares Solos: https://www.pshares.org/solos/notes-pekingese

Christopher Peacock <cp2657@columbia.edu>

 

13th Special Book Awards of China (1)

Here’s more information on the book awards.

“Translators from Australia, Canada and Russia were among the winners of the Special Book Award of China, which is the highest honour given to international publishing professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of Chinese literature and culture overseas.  The award was established in 2005, and has been presented 12 times so far. Over the past years, 123 winners from 49 countries and regions have received the accolade. This year’s awards were made to:

• Bonnie Suzanne McDougall from Australia, Laureate Professor of the University of Sydney and translator who has been instrumental in developing young Chinese translators overseas as well as the publication of such books as Letters Between Two: Correspondence Between Lu Xun and Xu Guangping.
• Daniel Bell from Canada, who has pursued an academic career at Shandong University as well as producing monographs about Confucius culture and Chinese politics including The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy. Continue reading