Stephen Soong Translation Awards 2019-20

Stephen C. Soong Translation Studies Memorial Awards (2019–2020)
03 July 2020

It is with great pleasure that I hereby announce the results for the 22nd Stephen C. Soong Translation Studies Memorial Awards (2019–2020) set up by Research Centre for Translation, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Stephen C. Soong Translation Studies Memorial Awards (2019–2020) Standard Awards:

JIANG Fan (Graduate Institute of Interpretation and Translation, Shanghai International Studies University)

“透過翻譯現象深化文學關係研究—— 再論亞瑟·韋利和王際真在《紅樓夢》英譯中的“夢境”之爭” [An Intertextual Approach to Literary Relations: Rethinking Arthur Waley and Wang Chi-chen’s “Dream Controversy” in the English Translation and Adaptation of Hongloumeng] (in Chinese), Translation Quarterly 翻譯季刊 91 (March 2019), pp. 27–58. Continue reading

Hao Jingfang’s “Limbo”

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Ursula D. Friedman’s translation of Hao Jingfang’s 郝景芳 novella “Limbo” (生死域). A teaser is found below, but to read the entire story, go to:

Kirk Denton, editor


By Hao Jingfang 郝景芳[1]

Translated by Ursula D. Friedman[2]

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July 2020)


The Lonely Depths, by Hao Jingfang

He ventured cautiously through this strange twilight city. The sky was gray, the city gray. There was a peculiar feel to this city, the air swollen with an impending danger. The skyline was punctuated by a relentless succession of high-rises—the buildings’ rebar skeletons were gray, their glass flanks tinted gray. The gaps between the buildings were inked an impenetrable charcoal-gray. The sky was choked by a dense layer of low-hanging clouds, the skyscrapers’ invisible crowns swallowed by the ashen haze.

As he strode deeper into this city of shadows, he took stock of his surroundings, on constant guard against potential dangers lurking behind hidden street corners. His pace was slow and measured.

He did not know where he was. The last thing he remembered was blowing through a red light along Beijing’s Second Ring Road at two o’clock in the morning. A black Maserati had come flying out of nowhere, striking his vehicle full-on and flattening him into a corner of the driver’s seat. His car slammed into the guardrail, metal and glass debris piercing his flesh like a rain of bullets. . . . Later on, he vaguely recalled the bluish gleam of the lights in the operating room, and the IV bag in the hospital ward . . . and then . . . and then . . . [click here to read the rest]

Shen Haobo poem

Shen Haobo
(Second version)

America holds down America
America oppresses America
America pleads with America
America ignores America
America kills America

America suffocates
America cries for America
America rushes into the streets
America fights against America
America burns America

America’s rocket shoots into the sky
America’s blacks rush into the streets
Remember that time?
We are all people
People massacre people

People fight and resist people
People pursue freedom
People thirst for equality
The battle is not up in the sky
Always has been down in the streets

June 1st, 2020
Translated by Martin Winter, June 2020

First version on my blog, see Continue reading

Headscarf Girl, by Cao Kou

Source: China Channel (6/12/20)
Headscarf Girl
By Cao Kou, translated by Josh Stenberg

“Chinese boatwoman wearing a headscarf, Canton” circa. 1870 (Wellcome Images/Wikicommons)

Cao Kou’s short fiction often masquerades as the casual recollection or chatty anecdote of a youngish male first-person narrator. People who have lived in Chinese cities will recognize this streetscape, with its gritty locales and paucity of private space. Non-Han Muslims are a visible part of that landscape, especially in eateries like the one where this Han narrator has started taking meals. The protagonist is attracted to the “headscarf girl,” but he combines this with an incuriosity so fundamental that he likely doesn’t know her name; her vanishing at the end earns only a shrug. This brief anti-romantic tale speaks volumes about the realities and anxiety of the intersections of gender, ethnicity and religion in the contemporary Chinese metropolis, and it is likely this unease which had led to it being published here for the first time, rather than in China. – Josh Stenberg

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I’ve eaten at all the places to eat near where I live. And there’s one or two where I’ve eaten lots of times, so there’s an owner and a waitress, both women, that I’ve gotten to know. I couldn’t tell you about their looks, I mean they’re alright, definitely not ugly, or else why would I get to know them, right? I just remember that one of them was from Tianchang in Anhui province, and one is from Huaiyin which is in Jiangsu but further north from here. One of them’s already married, and her husband was the one cooking up the twice-cooked pork and all that shit; and the other one’s not married, and she keeps a pink OPPO cell phone in her back pocket. Continue reading

Bird Talk and Other Stories by Xu Xu

Bird Talk and Other Stories by Xu Xu: Modern Tales of a Chinese Romantic (Stonebridge, 2020)
Translated by Frederik H. Green

Xu Xu (1908-1980) was one of the most widely read Chinese authors of the 1930s to 1960s. His popular urban gothic tales, his exotic spy fiction, and his quasi-existentialist love stories full of nostalgia and melancholy offer today’s readers an unusual glimpse into China’s turbulent twentieth century.

These translations–spanning a period of some thirty years, from 1937 until 1965–bring to life some of Xu Xu’s most representative short fictions from prewar Shanghai and postwar Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The Afterword illustrates that Xu Xu’s idealistic tendencies in defiance of the politicization of art exemplify his affinity with European romanticism and link his work to a global literary modernity. Continue reading

Translators Speak event

Join Cha Asian Journal & Zephyr Press — for this special (and for us, a 40th anniversary) event!

Four Zephyr Press translators — Nick Admussen, Lucas Klein, Andrea Lingenfelter, and Jami Proctor Xu — will talk about and introduce Chinese poets they translated, the translation process, their views on translating Chinese poetry (versus other genres), and suggestions for other translators, as well as read from the books. Poets to be discussed:
Ya Shi, Mang Ke, Zhai Yongming, and Song Lin, all from Zephyr’s Jintian Series of Contemporary Chinese Poetry. The event, including a Q & A, will take place via Zoom and people from all over the world are welcome to listen in. Moderated by Cha’s co-editor Tammy Lai-Ming Ho. 

“Translators Speak” takes place tonight or Saturday, depending on where you live. Find out what time it will be where you are:

Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM HKT
Friday, June 12: Pacific: 8 p.m. / Central: 10 p.m. / East Coast: 11 p.m.

Zoom details at:

Paper Republic launches Sunday Sentence

Paper Republic launches the Sunday Sentence 一周一句

This Sunday 31st May begins a two-month activity of online translation workshopping, which anyone and everyone who knows Chinese and writes English can get involved with. A famously lonely endeavor, translation, when done with others, becomes a rambunctious language game in which all the best nitpicking and head scratching go on. So since face-to-face workshops are called off for the foreseeable future, Paper Republic is launching Sunday Sentence, or in Chinese, 一周一句!

Every Sunday a sentence will be posted here on the website as well as on Twitter and Facebook, and you are invited to have a go translating it! The sentences have been picked by PR team members and other CH-EN translators for being particularly challenging to render in English for some reason or another. Challenging enough, we hope, to produce endless different possible translations and start some discussion around the strategies people employ when translating literary Chinese and the reasons behind their decisions. All translations and discussion should be posted in the comment sections of the Sunday Sentence page when it goes online at

First up is a sentence picked by Anna Holmwood, translator of Jin Yong! So to whet your wuxia appetite, from this Saturday onward, you can listen to Angus Stewart’s conversation with another translator of Jin Yong, Gigi Chang, on the Translated Chinese Fiction podcast at

With thanks and best wishes,

Nicky Harman <>

Spring’s White Blossom, by Huang Fan

Source: China Channel, LARB (5/21/20)
Spring’s White Blossom
By Huang Fan, translated by Josh Stenberg
A new poem by Huang Fan, translated by Josh Stenberg

The wearing of face-masks – a global norm this spring, not only in China – would a year ago have been a dip into surrealist imagery for Huang Fan, a Nanjing poet and fiction writer born in 1963. In this poem, with readers conscious that masking is a literal reality, their new ubiquity becomes a chain of associations: a lover’s silencing, intimate, stifling hand; the long-awaited blossoming of spring transformed to invisible terror; the grim figuration of disease on an X-ray; the pause-hitting social distancing of society. Here as elsewhere in his work, Huang is concerned with the alternation between speech and silence, the difficulty of communication, the betrayal of dreams, and the body in distress. He combines this with an affectionate but ironic use of the tropes of Chinese classical poetry – springtime blossoms and white moons. Then he ends with a reflection of a major emotional response to pandemic from the healthy majority: grievance, muffled by guilt. – Josh Stenberg

White Mask
A note from spring 2020

It’s like a white hand, suddenly over my face
Two months already, I’m still not used to it
Warm over my sighing embrace
So even my mother tongue gets carefully filtered?

It’s the jail gate of the tongue, imprisoning how much hot air
It keeps even love at a distance
It says our mouths are like wounds it needs to tightly bandage
It’s like a white moon, makes me bury my desires in a dream.

It’s this spring’s most abundant white blossom
Trying to match tragedy’s hue
It’s also winter in a patient’s lungs
Freezing to permafrost on everyone’s faces
And when I complain while wearing you, my mouth fills with shame. ∎ Continue reading

Essay on Dung Kai-cheung

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal has recently published an exclusive essay by the internationally renowned translator Bonnie S. McDougall about the Hong Kong writer Dung Kai-cheung’s work. The essay primarily focuses on Dung’s The Catalog, a new English translation of which will be available soon. But it also contextualises Hong Kong’s recent history, its writings, and its conducive environment for free literary expression. This is the link to Bonnie’s piece:

Best wishes,

Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

Wu Ang, “Su Volunteers Diary”

Source: Paper Republic (5/7/20)
Su Volunteers Diary, by Wu Ang
Translated by Christopher MacDonaldCarson Ramsdell and Lindsay Sullivan
巫昂: 《宿志愿者日志

[Three translators! One said, ‘When I learned that two other translators I’d met at a short course in Warwick had also responded to express their interest, and we had the chance to work on the translation together, I was pleasantly surprised. Even when translating by myself, I’m constantly bouncing ideas off others and asking for feedback. So, having partners to collaborate with in a sort of three-way game of pong was immensely helpful. No matter how short or long a piece of text, having multiple sets of eyes to look at something is always beneficial. That word on the tip of your tongue you just couldn’t spit out. A more aesthetic way of phrasing something. Reminders that in your keyboard tapping fervor you let the register run off. These are all things that benefit from cross-checking and bring into focus one’s own shortcomings. It allows you to see where improvements can be made, ultimately making one a better translator.’]

Editor’s note: After Wuhan went into lockdown on 23 Jan, and before any temporary hospitals came into operation, the city’s healthcare system was under enormous strain. The hospital admissions system, administered at the local level was also at full stretch. Many of the sick were unable to receive prompt treatment. In early February the Weibo microblogging platform created a dedicated hashtag for people who were ill and seeking help, and the People’s Daily website began collecting their online messages. Several governmental and community groupings became involved, contacting those who had posted messages and helping them gain admission to hospital. One of the groups was Su Volunteers: an inspiring, community-level initiative started by the poet and novelist Wu Ang. Continue reading

Karma: Poems by Yin Lichuan

Karma (Tolsun Books, 2020)
Poems by Yin Lichuan; Translated from the Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Karma (Tolsun Books, 2020) is Yin Lichuan’s volume of poems (bilingual edition) in Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s translation:

Spanning over a decade, these are poems of deep irreverence and relentless questioning. With an air of unrestrained freedom in both form and content, Yin Lichuan establishes an immediate intimacy with her reader. She prods at expectations and disdains concealment, as a youth looking at old age, in the earliest poems, and later as a mother. Throughout, she maintains her restless distrust of convention. In these English translations, poet and musician Sze-Lorrain presents an arresting chronological sequence of Yin’s fresh and fearless revelations. (Carolyn Kuebler, editor of New England Review) Continue reading

Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary translations

Source: (4/10/20)
Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary: Dissed for ‘Washing Dirty Linen’ before Foreign Eyes
By Bruce Humes

German edition launch date: June 4, 2020 (六四)


It was bad enough that author Fang Fang (方方) has regularly posted her popular Wuhan Diary (武汉日记) on China’s social media, offering her personal — and not occasionally, critical — comments on the effects of the deadly epidemic during the lockdown, penned at Ground Zero. Reports The Diplomat (Conscience of Wuhan):

. . . each entry in Fang’s Wuhan Diary has been consistently deleted by Beijing’s censors within an hour or so of it being posted on Fang’s social media page. Yet each post has gone viral before being struck down, being shared by millions of WeChatters within China and abroad.

But now there is even worse news for the ongoing global PR campaign to position China’s anti-Covid-19 strategy, specifically its vacuum-sealed lockdown of Wuhan, as successful, heroic and a model for the rest of the world. Reports China’s Global Times (Publication of Wuhan diary in English):

Now some people are wondering if Fang received a certain amount of money from overseas to let the book be published for some reasons. 


And it appears to be true. HarperCollins Publishers has announced the launch of Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City, translated by Michael Berry, for end June 2020. Continue reading

Mai Jia’s The Message review

Source: SCMP (4/10/20)
The Message, Mai Jia’s flawed wartime novel, can be read as disguised criticism of Chinese Communist rule
A fiction about the hunt for a spy among wartime codebreakers combines with a metafictional narrative about a writer looking for the story. The popularity of this bloated book is puzzling until it is read as a comment on the trauma of the Cultural Revolution
By Mike Cormack

Chinese author Mai Jia, whose best-selling novel The Message was recently translated in to English. Photo: Getty Images

Chinese author Mai Jia, whose best-selling novel The Message was recently translated in to English. Photo: Getty Images

The Message [風聲], by Mai Jia, tr. Olivia Milburn
Head of Zeus

Mai Jia’s books, now being translated and published in English, make great play of his huge sales in China. With global sales of 10 million, he is “the bestselling author you’ve never heard of”, according to the market­ing hype.

His first novel, Decoded (2002), earned positive reviews from English-language media when it was translated in 2014 and has now been published in 33 languages. A large part of Mai Jia’s appeal, no doubt, derives from his background in the Chinese intelligence services, with Decoded focusing on crypto­graphy and espionage, although it is set during World War II, which eases matters when publishing in the mainland.

The Message, which was published in Chinese in 2007, has a similar premise. In 1941, five codebreakers (Chief of Staff Wu Zhiguo, Section Chief Jin Shenghuo, cryptographer Li Ningyu, Secretary Bai Xiaonian and Gu Xiaomeng, a subordinate of Li) are taken to a comman­deered villa in occupied Hangzhou by the Imperial Japanese Army. They are informed of communist activity in the area and given an intercepted message from a Commander Zhang to decode. Continue reading

Chinese Film Classics

I hope list members are keeping well. I am writing to share English-subtitled versions of twelve early Chinese films, which I have made available open-access on the YouTube channel “Chinese Film Classics”:

The films currently available are: 

  1. Laborer’s Love 勞工之愛情 (Zhang Shichuan, dir., 1922)
  2. Daybreak 天明 (Sun Yu, dir., 1933)
  3. Goddess 神女 (Wu Yonggang, dir., 1934)
  4. Sports Queen 體育皇后 (Sun Yu, dir., 1934)
  5. The Great Road 大路 (Sun Yu, dir., 1934 [released 1935])
  6. New Women 新女性 (Cai Chusheng, dir., 1935) (translated by Eileen Cheng-yin Chow)
  7. Street Angels 馬路天使 (Yuan Muzhi, dir., 1937)
  8. Song at Midnight 夜半歌聲 (Ma-Xu Weibang, dir., 1937)
  9. Long Live the Missus! 太太萬歲 (Sang Hu, dir., 1947) (also available with filmscript and stills on MCLC Publications:
  10. Spring in a Small Town 小城之春 (Fei Mu, dir. 1948)
  11. Wanderings of Three-Hairs the Orphan 三毛流浪記 (Zhao Ming and Yan Gong, dirs., 1949)
  12. Crows and Sparrows 烏鴉與麻雀 (Zheng Junli, dir., 1949 [released 1950]) (also available with filmscript and stills on MCLC Publications:

Continue reading

Yu Kwang-chung essay “Dear Music”

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Sunny Tien and Ivan Wong’s translation of “Dear Music: Spare My Innocent Ears!,” by Yu Kwang-chung. The essay appears below and at its online home: My thanks to the translators for sharing their work with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, editor

Dear Music: Spare My Innocent Ears!

By Yu Kwang-chung 余光中[1]

Translated by Sunny Tien and Ivan Wong

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April 2020)

Once when the famous Chinese vocalist Xi Mude was traveling by taxi, popular music was playing loudly in the car. When she asked the driver to turn down the volume, he asked, “You don’t like music?” to which Xi Mude said, “No, I don’t like music.” It’s rather ironic for a vocalist to face such a question. First, there are many types of music. The prevalent loud noise that plagues Taiwan, though also called “music,” is not appreciated by true music lovers. Second, the beauty or quality of music is not determined by its volume. Some “aficionados” of popular music seem more interested in the machinery than the music itself. In the tight confines of a taxicab, such loud music is simply excessive. Further, music is not like air, to be taken in at every moment. Must music be forced upon us every time we enter a taxi? People with ceaseless tunes in their ears aren’t necessarily true lovers of music. Continue reading