Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror

Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror, edited by Ian Rowen, has just been published.

This book is part of the Cambria Literature in Taiwan Series, headed by Professor Nikky Lin (National Taiwan Normal University), a collaboration with the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, the National Human Rights Museum, and National Taiwan Normal University.

Paperback (ISBN: 9781621966975)  $32.99 • 290pp. • E-book editions start at $19.99—Order from Cambria Press.

Taiwan’s peaceful, democratic society is built upon decades of authoritarian state violence with which it is still coming to terms. At the close of World War II in 1945, after fifty years of Japanese colonization, Taiwan was occupied by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The party massacred thousands of Taiwanese while it established a military dictatorship on the island with the tacit support of the United States. Continue reading

A Son of Taiwan

A Son of Taiwan: Stories of Government Atrocity edited by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin (Cambria Press) has just been published.

This book is part of the Cambria Literature in Taiwan Series, headed by Professor Nikky Lin (National Taiwan Normal University), a collaboration with the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, the National Human Rights Museum, and National Taiwan Normal University.

Paperback (ISBN: 9781621966937)  $29.99 • 216pp. • E-book editions start at $14.99—Order from Cambria Press.

On February 28, 1947, a widow selling cigarettes on the street in Taipei was brutally beaten by government agents searching for contraband cigarettes. When a crowd gathered, shots were fired and a bystander was killed. Island-wide demonstrations prompted the Chiang Kai-shek government to send reinforcements from China. Upon arrival, the troops opened fire, killing thousands. The massacre was followed by large-scale arrests of anyone suspected of sedition or Communist associations, all in the name of national security. Martial law was declared and not lifted until 1987. What happened in 1947 is known as the 2/28 Incident, which led to a four-decade-long suppression of dissent, encroachments upon civil liberties, and the wholesale violation of human rights, all subsumed under an era referred to as White Terror. Its pernicious effects went beyond actual acts of atrocity, as the citizens practiced self-censorship and passed their fears on to the next generation. For many years, this part of Taiwan’s past was talked about, if at all, with circumspection. As evidenced in this collection, literary representations often employed obscure references, which themselves could place the writers in serious jeopardy. Despite, or because of, differences in approach, these writers keep memories alive to ensure that the past is neither forgotten nor repeated. Continue reading

Lin Shu’s Don Quixote translated into Spanish after 100 years

Source: The Guardian (4/23/21)
Chinese Don Quixote is translated into Spanish after 100 years
Lin Shu’s forgotten 1922 text, The Story of the Enchanted Knight – with a less deluded Don Quixote – in edition for China and Spain
By  in Madrid @swajones

Historia del Caballero Encantado (The Story of the Enchanted Knight), a Spanish translation of Lin Shu’s Mandarin Chinese version of Don Quixote.

Historia del Caballero Encantado (The Story of the Enchanted Knight), a Spanish translation of Lin Shu’s Mandarin Chinese version of Don Quixote. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty

In the early 20th century a pioneering and appropriately idiosyncratic man of letters took it upon himself to translate the first part of Don Quixote into classical Chinese.

Undaunted by his lack of Spanish – or indeed any western language – and helped by a friend who had read two or three English translations, Lin Shu published The Story of the Enchanted Knight in 1922.

In its pages Chinese readers had their first introduction to the deranged, book-sick nobleman created by the writer Cervantes, and to the escapades that have echoed, as insistently as Rocinante’s hooves, down the centuries and through the work of many, from Jorge Luis Borges and Graham Greene to Salman Rushdie.

Almost 100 years later Spain is returning the favour with a suitably chivalric flourish by translating Lin’s translation into Spanish to coincide with the 405th anniversary of Cervantes’ death. Continue reading

A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Haiyan Xie’s review of A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation (1919-2019): English Publication and Reception, edited by Leah Gerber and Lintao Q. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation (1919-2019):
English Publication and Reception

Edited by Leah Gerber and Lintao Qi

Reviewed by Haiyan Xie

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2021)

Leah Gerber and Lintao Qi, eds., A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation (1919-2019): English Publication and Reception. London & New York: Routledge, 2020. xii + 187 pp. ISBN 9780367321291.

For the past several decades, translation studies have undergone several “turns,” such as that from linguistics to culture or that from culture to globalization.[1] None of these “turns,” however, seems to have escaped Eurocentric discourse, despite the many alternative voices from outside European countries. Against such a backdrop, Leah Gerber and Lintao Qi’s collection A Century of Chinese Literature in Translation (1919-2019): English Publication and Reception is an important contribution to the current “globalization turn” of translation studies, intervening in debates and issues concerning the field of translation studies, including the study of literature in translation from a non-Eurocentric perspective. This collection of essays, focusing on Chinese literature in translation, presents an impressive tapestry of topics, perspectives, and methodologies for a rethinking of the nature of translation and translation practice in today’s globalized context. It also demonstrates the editors’ effort to deconstruct some major stereotypes and dichotomies that, to various degrees, continue to haunt the nature of literature in translation. In doing so, this book also contributes to enriching our understanding of how Chinese literature becomes part of world literature through a “minor” culture of translation. Continue reading

Jia Pingwa event

Next Friday, April 9, 9:00AM EST, we’ll be talking about Jia Pingwa and my translation of his 《老生》, titled The Mountain Whisperer. Jia Pingwa will be there (a recorded message and live Q&A), as well as Nicky Harman, who will also discuss her translations of Jia’s work. It is a bit early, unfortunately, but that can’t be helped insofar as we’re coordinating three time-zones.

The link to the event is here:

Jia Pingwa: Master Storyteller of rural China


Chrisopher Payne>

Afrolit for China

Source: Bruce (3/6/21)
Coming soon to China: African Poetry, Novellas and Parables Translated Direct from Hausa and Swahili
By Bruce Humes

2021 looks set to be a banner year for what I refer to in shorthand as “Afrolit4China,” i.e., African writing in Chinese translation targeting readers in the People’s Republic.

According to the latest statistics from the sole online mini-database in this niche, the bilingual African Writing in Chinese Translation (非洲文学: 中文译本), now lists 240 translated works by 101 African authors. This shows a robust 64 percent increase over the 146 titles in early 2018.

Last year’s batch included psychological thrillers My Sister, the Serial Killer (我的妹妹是连环杀手) by Oyinkan Braithwaite, and Alain Mabanckou’s Mémoires de porc-épic (豪猪回忆录), novels that were penned in colonial languages, English and French, respectively.

But East China Normal University Press (华东师范大学出版社) has announced that two of its first three titles in the VI HORAE Africa Series (六点非洲系列) are rendered into Chinese direct from languages indigenous to Africa. None of the customary “re-treads” here via the intermediary of English. According to Commissioning Editor Shi Meijun (施美均), the Chinese translators learned African languages as undergraduates, and several have lived and studied in Africa.


Shaaban’s poetry in bilingual format

[Note:  Most of the English-language titles below are for the convenience of Anglophone readers of this article; several of these works do not exist in English]

Selected Poems of Shaaban bin Robert (夏班·罗伯特诗歌选集) is translated from the original Swahili, published in a bilingual Swahili-Chinese format, and features graphics by African illustrators. The reader need only scan a QR code to access online recitations of the verse in Swahili.

Due out soon is The Body Will Tell You: Selected Works from the Hausa (身体会告诉你: 非洲豪萨语文学作品选).  Four nouvellas make up the first part of the book, while the second consists of two hundred short parables — inspired by West African oral folk literature as well as Aesop’s fables — compiled and retold by Yusufu Yunusa. Continue reading

New books by Martin Winter


Happy Lantern Festival, may this lunar year be better than the last one! I wrote a Rat poem on the last day of 2020, it was presented by Yi Sha.

Actually I wanted to tell you about the new book finally coming out, NPC A-J, Chinese-German. I have posted about Yi Sha’s NPC a while before, several years now. I have been participating in it since 2013. Now the first book with NPC poets in Chinese and German is finally going to print. The book info is in here:

Anyone interested in doing a review somewhere? It’s not in English, just Chinese/German, so maybe it’s not suitable for a MCLC review. But we would be happy to send the book to you asap.

And the second book is my own first book coming out in China. Came out last fall, fall 2020. Have I posted about this before? Maybe not. Here is the link:

Poetry, of course. Great book!

Small censorship issue, see here


Martin 维马丁

Diverse Voices in Chinese Translation and Interpreting

Moratto, Riccardo and Woesler, Martin (eds.) (2021). Diverse Voices in Chinese Translation and Interpreting. Theory and Practice. Singapore: Springer.

This book presents a thoughtful and thorough account of 18 diverse studies on Chinese translation and interpreting (TI). It introduces readers to a plurality of scholarly voices focusing on different aspects of Chinese TI from an interdisciplinary and international perspective. Readers will approach Chinese TI studies from different standpoints, namely socio-historical, literary, policy-related, interpreting, and contemporary translation practice.

The research spans from the Qing dynasty to the present day, and even gives an outlook on neural machine translation with the help of artificial intelligence. Several chapters focus on the translation of literature, there are chapters on the role of the interpreter, on sociology, on collaborative translation of government texts as well as on translation theory. The preface proposes the integration of most of the existing translation theories into a “final theory of all translation theories”, the so-called “Appropriateness Theory”. Continue reading

The Membranes

First published in Taiwan in 1995, The Membranes by Chi Ta-wei, forthcoming in an English translation by Ari Larissa Heinrich on June 1, is a classic of queer speculative fiction in Chinese. In this mindbending novella, Chi Ta-wei weaves dystopian tropes—heirloom animals, radiation-proof combat drones, sinister surveillance technologies—into a sensitive portrait of one young woman’s quest for self-understanding. Predicting everything from fitness tracking to social media saturation, this visionary and sublime novel stands out for its queer and trans themes.

It is the late twenty-first century, and Momo is the most celebrated dermal care technician in all of T City. Humanity has migrated to domes at the bottom of the sea to escape devastating climate change. The world is dominated by powerful media conglomerates and runs on exploited cyborg labor. Momo prefers to keep to herself, and anyway she’s too busy for other relationships: her clients include some of the city’s best-known media personalities. But after meeting her estranged mother, she begins to explore her true identity, a journey that leads to questioning the bounds of gender, memory, self, and reality.

The Membranes reveals the diversity and originality of contemporary speculative fiction in Chinese, exploring gender and sexuality, technological domination, and regimes of capital, all while applying an unflinching self-reflexivity to the reader’s own role. Ari Larissa Heinrich’s translation brings Chi’s hybrid punk sensibility to all readers interested in books that test the limits of where speculative fiction can go. Continue reading

A selection of poems by Qiu Jin

Source: China Channel, LARB (2/12/21)
Feminist, Revolutionary, Poet
A selection of poems by Qiu Jin, in new translation by Yilin Wang

Translator’s note: Qiu Jin (秋瑾) was a Chinese revolutionary, feminist, poet, and essayist who lived from 1875 to 1907. Defying the gender expectations of her time, she acquired a traditional scholarly education as well as learning martial arts, sword-fighting, and horseback riding. As she struggled within an unhappy marriage, she connected with other Chinese feminist activists, pawned her jewels to study abroad in Japan, then returned home to join a revolution against the corrupt Qing Dynasty government and fight for women’s rights. When the uprising failed, she chose to die as a martyr rather than escape. Although Qiu Jin has been widely celebrated as a pioneer in China’s early feminist movement and as a revolutionary, there are still limited translations of her vast body of work in English and some of these date back to the early 20th century. Below are three poems and fragments in new translation (read the original Chinese here).

The first two short poems, written during Qiu’s youth, references The Tale of Zhi Kan, a Chinese opera about the lives of two heroic women warriors, Qin Liangyu and Shen Yunying, who lived in the late Ming dynasty. The next poem, ‘A River of Crimson’, is written according to a popular cipai poetic form. The final poem, ‘Spontaneous Thoughts’, is a response to the Tang dynasty female poet Yu Xuanji’s response to another poem, demonstrating that Qiu’s work can be read as the modern continuation of a long lineage of Chinese women poets tracing back thousands of years. Together, they display themes that Qiu Jin continued to explore throughout her body of work, such as the importance of strong female role models, the subversion of gender expectations, and the difficulty of finding a soulmate. – Yilin Wang

Selections from Eight Poems inspired by The Tale of Zhi Kan
for the legend written by Dong Yibo’s grandfather

The Chieftess knew how to guide the nation’s affairs,
with a general’s talents and elegance beyond this world.
Saber in hand, hair wrapped in cloth, she rode a peach-blossom steed,
truly worthy of being called a luminary of women. Continue reading

Adventures in Translating between Cultures and Eras

Adventures in Translating Between Cultures and Eras:
A Double Launch for The Best China & The Monkey King
Featuring John Minford and Julia Lovell
With commentary by Hu Ying
Jeffrey Wasserstrom moderating

Hosted, remotely, by UC Irvine’s International Center for Writing and Translation, in partnership with the Los Angeles Review of Books and Birkbeck College, University of London, Department of History, Classics, and Archaeology, February 17, 11am PST;

February 17, 7pm in the UK; and February 18, 8am in New Zealand)— To register click here:

This event, in which members of UCI’s History Department (Wasserstrom) and East Asian Studies Department (Hu Ying) will play the roles of moderator and discussant, respectively, will highlight the work of two extraordinary translators and scholars of Chinese culture. One is John Minford. He is an emeritus professor at ANU and holds a distinguished position at Hang Seng University in Hong Kong, and he has translated (or co-translated) both classic works of philosophy, including the I Ching (Yi Jing) and Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing), and classic works of literature, such as The Dream of the Red Chamber (aka The Story of the Stone). The other is Julia Lovell. She is a Professor at Birkbeck College, London, and she has translated works by Lu Xun, Yan Lianke, and other major modern writers. Minford’s most recent book is The Best China: Essays from Hong Kong (January 2021), the final volume in a six-part series devoted to Hong Kong literature, while Lovell’s is an abridged translation of Monkey King/Journey to the West (February 2021). Continue reading

The April 3rd Incident review

Source: LARB China Channel (1/21/21)
The Surrealism of the Real
Eleanor Goodman reviews The April 3rd Incident by Yu Hua
By Elenaor Goodman

Yu Hua, The April 3rd Incident, trans. Allan H. Barr (Pantheon Books, Nov 2018).

As readers will find in his massive novel Brothers and clever essay collection China in Ten Words, acclaimed Chinese writer Yu Hua has a highly developed sense of the absurd. This is perhaps both a defense mechanism and a literary advantage when living in a country in which the inconceivable has been made real. Yu Hua’s latest collection to come out in English, The April 3rd Incident, presents stories written between 1987 and 1991, yet the sense of foreboding, fear and repression is just as topical today as it was then.

The seven stories in this collection are not linked by plot or character, but they hang together tightly in terms of tone and theme. Throughout, there is death, paranoia, disorientation, ominous knocking, and a confusion between ‘dream’ and ‘reality’ embedded in a world that never seems entirely real. An alienation from one’s own sensations and perceptions, while still being utterly subsumed in them, is a thread that stretches between the stories. Characters recall dreams that seem to become manifest in the world; a truck driver sees the shadow of a boy he accidentally killed in his own son; a man is uncertain that the woman he has fallen in love with really exists. Nothing is ever what it appears to be. Continue reading

“Communist Rhapsody”

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Adrian Thieret’s translation of “Communist Rhapsody,” a story by Zheng Wenguang. “Communist Rhapsody” is a “scientific fantasy” written during the Great Leap Forward. I give a teaser below. For the entire story, go to: My thanks to Adrian Thieret for sharing his work with the MCLC community.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Communist Rhapsody

By Zheng Wenguang 郑文光[1]

Translated by Adrian Thieret[2]

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January 2021)

Editor’s foreword (1958): In this era in which one day equals twenty years, people want to know what our country, society, and people’s lives will look like twenty years from now. The writer of this piece has adopted a daringly imaginative style in writing this relatively scientific fantasy. We call it relatively scientific because what he says isn’t entirely baseless. We call it fantasy because to achieve these things still requires the hard work of the people. However, we anticipate that with the efforts of all China’s people, this fantasy can certainly be realized. Today there are only unimaginable miracles; there are no unrealizable fantasies. Because this work is fairly long, we will publish it in two parts.

Part 1: Our Country’s Thirtieth Anniversay

Everything happened so suddenly…

In the morning on the eve of the holiday, Director Zhang said to me: “Get your things together, Keling, we’re leaving on the Red Arrow to Beijing to watch the celebrations!”

I nearly jumped with joy. But Director Zhang told me sternly that before leaving I first had to go to the department to ascertain whether the second phase of the engineering plan had been approved.

We were advancing into the Xinjiang desert, and I was the engineer on the special “War on Deserts Committee.” Our work was, in the amusing words of Director Zhang, “to erase yellow from the map.” The work had actually begun nearly twenty years ago. Back then, people had flown in planes over the great Gobi Desert to seed it with hardy plants such as black saxaul bushes, oriental raisin trees, cacti, and camelthorns that might check the flow of sand, absorb moisture from far below the surface, and slowly form a new green oasis. [Read the entire story]

Women Writing China

Li Juan, a prominent Chinese essayist, will be discussing her experiences as female writer living and writing in a rural Chinese community.

About this Event

In partnership with the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing, Sinoist Books brings you Women Writing China: Female Authors and Chinese Literature, featuring Li Juan, an acclaimed Chinese essayist writing from the extreme rurality of the Altay region of Xinjiang, and Christopher Payne, translator of Li Juan’s latest book.

We will be discussing Li Juan’s writing, specifically Distant Sunflower Fields (遥远的向日葵地), which charts the lives of three generations of women in Li Juan’s family; what is it to be a woman living in such a community, and how have her experiences as a female writer influenced and taken shape in text?

Christopher Payne will also be speaking about the intricacies of translation and his work with Li Juan. Continue reading