Happy Friday y’all!
This issue comes with a set of brilliant answers to questions we put to three Chinese-Spanish translators, as a continuation of our previous collab with their respective translator collectives. You can find their answers beneath the news. We hope to have more collaboration with Chinese translators and publishers into more languages besides Chinese, so if you fall into one of those categories, feel free to get in touch.
First, let me direct your attention to the great events there are coming up, which for the first time in a long time are all in person. So Londoners and Copenhageners, get to booking.
Oh, and remember news of Han Song’s new novel Hospital, coming out from Amazon Crossing (read our chat with acquiring editor Gabriella Page-Fort here)? We’ve got a look at the striking cover, check it out!
Enjoy your perusing!
Extracts, stories and poems:
- Read “Interweaving” by Xiaowen Zhu, tr. Jack Hargreaves
- Chris Song’s translation of the poem, 上海人的忍耐還遠遠沒有到極限, by web user Micha Erlou
- Listen to Jack Hargreaves read from Chen Chuncheng’s “Submarines in the Night”
- Translator and writer Yilin Wang on “Faded Poems and Intimate Connections”
- Five poems from Pee Poems by Lao Yang, tr. Joshua Edwards & Lynn Xu
- Five poems by Li Xiaoyang (pen name Cong An), tr. Stella Jiayue Zhu
- A new Zhu Yue micro-story tr. Jianan Qian & Alyssa Asquith
- Surveying from Mount Dongliang a Yang Jian poem, tr. Fiona Sze-Lorrain
- Peter Hessler in the New Yorker, “A Teacher in China Learns the Limits of Free Expression”
- The opening paragraph from Wong Koi Tet’s “Turtle Fever” 《鳖瘟》 tr. Shawn Hoo
- The Nuosu Book of Origins, an ancient epic of Yi minority verse and wisdom, tr. Mark Bender and the poet Aku Wuwu, is available open access
New Publication: A Catalog of Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On
Dung Kai-cheung. Translated by Bonnie S. McDougall and Anders Hansson
Columbia University Press
Dung Kai-cheung’s A Catalog of Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On is a playful and imaginative glimpse into the consumerist dreamscape of late-nineties Hong Kong. First published in 1999, it comprises ninety-nine sketches of life just after the handover of the former British colony to China. Each of these stories in miniature begins from a piece of ephemera, usually consumer products or pop culture phenomena, and develops alternately comic and poignant snapshots of urban life.
Dung’s sketches center on once-trendy items that evoke the world at the turn of the millennium, such as Hello Kitty, Final Fantasy VIII, a Windows 98 disk, a clamshell mobile phone, Air Jordans, and cargo shorts. The protagonist of each piece, typically a young woman, is struck by an odd, even overriding obsession with an object or fad. Characters embark on brief dalliances or relationships lasting no longer than the fashions that sparked them. Dung blends vivid everyday details—Portuguese egg tarts, Japanese TV shows, the Hong Kong subway—with situations that are often fantastical or preposterous. This catalog of vanished products illuminates how people use objects to define and even invent their own selves. A major work from one of Hong Kong’s most gifted and original writers, Dung’s archaeology of the end of the twentieth century speaks to perennial questions about consumerism, nostalgia, and identity. Continue reading
Stephen C. Soong Translation Studies Memorial Awards (2021–2022)
Call for Entries
Stephen C. Soong (1919–1996) was a prolific writer and translator as well as an active figure in the promotion of translation education and research. To commemorate his contributions in this field, the Stephen C. Soong Translation Studies Memorial Awards were set up in 1997 by the Research Centre for Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, with a donation from the Soong family. They give recognition to academics who have made contributions to original research in Chinese Translation Studies, particularly in the use of first-hand materials for historical and cultural investigations.
Entry and Nomination
RCT invites Chinese scholars or research students in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau or overseas regions to participate in the 24th Stephen C. Soong Translation Studies Memorial Awards (2021–2022). General regulations are as follows:
- All Chinese scholars or research students affiliated to higher education/research institutes in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau or overseas regions are eligible to apply.
- Submitted articles must be written in either Chinese or English and published in a refereed journal within the calendar year 2021. Each candidate can enter up to two articles for the Awards. The publication date, title and volume/number of the journal in which the article(s) appeared must be provided.
- Up to three articles are selected as winners each year. A certificate and a cheque of HK$3,000 will be awarded to each winning entry.
- The adjudication committee consists of renowned scholars in Translation Studies from Greater China. The winners will be notified individually.
- Articles submitted will not be returned to the candidates.
Duck! Here comes your erratic, out of the blue newsletter on all things Chinese lit in translation.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, it hasn’t been a month since the last one. But bear with us, we’re still finetuning how long we have between each edition before they become unwieldy. So here is a petite, slimline edition.
Happily, it’s still as nutritious as ever, chocker with links to good news, good writing* and good times.
*poetry in particular this time around!
A quick reminder first that Bristol Translates and BCLT Summer School are still open for applications. The former will have Nicky Harman and me (Jack Hargreaves) teaching the Chinese strand, swapping and changing between the classes from the mornings to the afternoons; the latter has Jeremy Tiang running the Literature from Taiwan workshop alongside Writer-in-Residence Kan Yao-Ming.
Now for the news:
Extracts, stories and poems:
Rouge Street, by Shuang Xuetao; translated by Jeremy Tiang
NY: Metropolitan Books
Introduced by Madeleine Thien, author of the Booker finalist novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing. From one of the most highly celebrated young Chinese writers, three dazzling novellas of Northeast China, mixing realism, mysticism, and noir.
An inventor dreams of escaping his drab surroundings in a flying machine. A criminal, trapped beneath a frozen lake, fights a giant fish. A strange girl pledges to ignite a field of sorghum stalks.
Rouge Street presents three novellas by Shuang Xuetao, the lauded young Chinese writer whose frank, fantastical short fiction has already inspired comparisons to Ernest Hemingway and Haruki Murakami. Located in China’s frigid Northeast, Shenyang, the author’s birthplace, boasts an illustrious past—legend holds that the emperor’s makeup was manufactured here. But while the city enjoyed renewed importance as an industrial hub under Mao Zedong, China’s subsequent transition from communism to a market economy led to an array of social ills—unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce, suicide—that gritty Shenyang epitomizes.
Orbiting the toughest neighborhood of a postindustrial city whose vast, inhospitable landscape makes every aspect of life a struggle, these many-voiced missives are united by Shuang Xuetao’s singular style—one that balances hardscrabble naturalism with the transcendent and faces the bleak environs with winning humor. Rouge Street illuminates not only the hidden pains of those left behind in an extraordinary economic boom but also the inspirations and grace they, nevertheless, manage to discover.
Hello one and all, this month’s newsletter is packed with stories, poems and, much more so than usual, top notch podcasts for your all reading and listening pleasures. We’d also like to plug another newsletter we’ve been reading and loving recently, The Slow Chinese 每周漫闻, which is a resource to help you learn, use, and understand Chinese language the way people speak it today. The link there is for one recent instalment, but there are many, many more you can choose from on the site.
Also, some of you may have noticed in our annual roll call for 2021 that, for the first time, we included links to lists of published translations into other languages besides English. We would like to do more to promote and work with translators and publishers of Chinese fiction working in other languages, so this month we have the pleasure of sharing a roundup of news about Chinese literature in Spanish, from (China traducida y por traducir in collaboration with DIGITRANS, which can be found beneath the usual news pieces. Unfortunately, some of the events mentioned in this roundup have already passed, but do keep your eyes out for similar happening in the future.
And last but certainly not least, just in case you’ve managed to miss the announcement, the Paper Republic Guide to Contemporary Chinese Literature is out now and available to purchase in paperback and ebook form. Known affectionately as The Guide, the publication features detailed biographical entries covering almost 100 of the most important writers working in the Chinese language today, alongside in-depth essays on topics like the role of the author, women’s writing and Sci-Fi. We’ve already held one successful launch event in partnership with Aberdeen University Confucius Institute, and we have another coming up on Wed April 27th with China Institute, as well as one more in the works for anyone who is London-based (keep your eyes peeled for details about that). If you have questions or issues re: buying the Guide or registering for the event, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at email@example.com Continue reading
MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Xiaolu Ma’s review of Eurasia without Borders: The Dream of a Leftist Literary Commons, 1919-1943, by Katerina Clark. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/xiaolu-ma/. My thanks to Michael Hill, our translation/translation studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.
Kirk Denton, MCLC
Eurasia without Borders:
The Dream of a Leftist Literary Commons, 1919-1943
By Katerina Clark
Reviewed by Xiaolu Ma
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2022)
Is it possible to remap world literature from the communist perspective? If so, what possibilities might this approach open? Katerina Clark attempts to answer these questions in Eurasia Without Borders: The Dream of a Leftist Literary Commons, 1919–1943. In place of the current model of world literature, which persistently foregrounds the West, Clark takes as her starting point the historical vision for a Moscow-oriented Eurasian literature that forged connections between writers and languages in ways that continue to challenge how we study literature.
Clark frames her argument around the Communist International, or Comintern, as a political body that enabled leftists worldwide to conceive of Eurasia as a unified geographic and cultural entity. The Comintern worked to promote global communism from its founding in 1919 until it disbanded in 1943. Historical accounts of the Comintern and Comintern-sponsored literary activities usually conclude with its failure to achieve its initial revolutionary ambitions. In line with this narrative, Clark acknowledges that the implementation of the Comintern’s idealist vision encountered difficulties including “budgetary and language limitations, lack of specialists,” and lack of local intermediaries (26). Clark shows, however, that the Comintern’s unrealized ambitions still provided a platform for subsequent cultural interactions between what the organization saw as “oppressed” Asia and “proletarian” Europe. Continue reading
Poet Yu Xiuhua 余秀华 published a powerful poem on Chinese social media on February 27, 2022 in response to the Russia-Ukraine war. It has incited great public discussion. I have translated the poem into English for MCLC readers. The Chinese original appears after the translation.
By Yu Xiuhua
I pray for a poem to stop a tank
A poem full of tears stops more
I pray for a flower to withstand a bullet
A handful of carnations can comfort a mother
I pray for the sun to shine on everyone
Let some of them come out of the bomb shelter
to touch the spring
yet still trying to bloom
I pray that those farewells do not bear the grief of parting forever
But the joy of touching freedom
I pray that those children, O those children
Can go out into the street
I pray for peace!
I pray that the enemies with bayonets in their hands
Tell each other the names of their mothers
The names of their wives, the names of their children
I pray that every person who starts an unjust war
Cherish their own honor
Cherish the life of every soldier
Cherish the life of every civilian
I pray that on our already plagued earth
The sun illuminates every corner
There is nothing more evil than war
There is no aggression worse than war
I pray for peace!
(Translated by Ying Bao, 3/4/22) Continue reading
Bristol Translates – Literary Translation Summer School, 4-8 July 2022 (online). Chinese-to-English workshop available, tutors: Nicky Harman and Jack Hargreaves. Aimed at practising translators at any stage of their career, Bristol Translates offers the opportunity to work with leading professional translators to translate texts across the literary genres into English. 2022 summer school takes place entirely online, in groups limited to a maximum of 12 students. Early bird option ends 31st March. Apply here: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/sml/translation-studies/bristol-translates/
Nicky Harman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With the aim to encourage young scholars to actively participate in Chinese translation studies and strengthen academic exchange, the Research Centre for Translation (RCT) of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Institute of Translation History and Transcultural Studies of The Hunan University of Science and Technology (HNUST) will jointly organise the Tenth Young Researchers’ Conference on Chinese Translation Studies in December 2022.
About twenty papers will be accepted for presentation, and four to five established scholars will be invited as discussants for the papers. Submissions of abstracts are now called for “‘Writing Chinese Translation History’: The Tenth Young Researchers’ Conference on Chinese Translation Studies”, to be held on 17–18 December 2022 at The Hunan University of Science and Technology. Continue reading
Paul Bevan’s translation of The Adventures of Ma Suzhen: An Heroic Woman Takes Revenge in Shanghai (馬素貞歷險記) was published on 4 December 2021 by Palgrave Macmillan
The comic novel, The Adventures of Ma Suzhen, attributed to Qi Fanniu 戚飯牛 and Zhu Daotong 朱大公, was written during a highpoint in the popularity of xia “knight-errant” fiction. It is an action-packed tale of a young woman who takes revenge for her brother, Ma Yongzhen, a gangster and performing strongman, who has been murdered by a rival gang in China’s most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai. After publication of the book in 1923, the character of Ma Suzhen appeared on stage, and subsequently in a film made by the Mingxing Film Company. The book version as translated by Paul Bevan displays a delightful combination of the xia and popular “Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies” genres, with additional elements of Gong’an “court case” fiction. The translation is followed by an essay that explores the background to the legend of Ma Suzhen – a fictional figure, whose exhilarating escapades reflect some of the new possibilities and freedoms available to women following the founding of the Chinese Republic.
For further information see: https://link.springer.com/book/9783030890346
Source: SupChina (2/17/22)
Examining the most popular Chinese fiction titles
From techno-optimistic science fiction to migrant worker poetry, China produces a wealth of literature with Chinese characteristics, and many titles are gaining global popularity. Literary critic Megan Walsh appeared on the Sinica Podcast to discuss.
By Kaiser Kuo
Illustration for SupChina by Derek Zheng
Below is a complete transcript of the Sinica Podcast with Megan Walsh.
Kaiser Kuo: Welcome to the Sinica Podcast, a weekly discussion of current affairs in China, produced in partnership with SupChina. Subscribe to SupChina’s daily Access newsletter to keep on top of all the latest news from China from hundreds of different news sources. Or check out all the original writing on our site at supchina.com. We’ve got reported stories, essays and editorials, great explainers and trackers, regular columns, and, of course, a growing library of podcasts. We cover everything from China’s fraught foreign relations to its ingenious entrepreneurs, from the ongoing repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim people in China’s Xinjiang region to the tectonic shifts underway as China rolls out what we call the Red New Deal. It’s a feast of business, political, and cultural news about a nation that is reshaping the world. We cover China with neither fear nor favor. Continue reading
Hello one and all. The title (A Roaring New Year) is my favourite of the New Year’s related wordplay I’ve seen so far — a happy and fortune-filled one to you, by the way — but if you’ve heard or come up with better, please share it in the comments on the webpage.
This month’s feature is a conversation with Shiyan Xu, a professor of English at Nanjing Normal University and Deputy Editor-in-Chief for Chinese Arts and Letters, who late last year had a compilation of the Nobel-Prize-winning author Mo Yan’s speeches and lectures published with Cambria Press. Shiyan edited the collection, which she worked on with a number of translators and experts. A few of the team had the pleasure of hearing Shiyan speak at the launch of Paper Republic’s latest Reads series, Figures in a Landscape, a partnership with Perspectives in the Arts and Humanities Asia to present short stories from their double issue dedicated to Nanjing literature.
We thought a conversation with her about her most recent book, Mo Yan Speaks: Lectures and Speeches by the Nobel Laureate from China, would make for the perfect next feature. You can buy the book here and read the conversation below.
But first, the news!
Extracts, stories and poems:
- The most recent Books from Taiwan issue with translation samples of works by Kuo Chiang-Sheng, Kan Yao-Ming, Lin Yi-Han, Isaac Hsu and more
- A poem, At Last There Is Yesterday by Wang Yin, tr. Andrea Lingenfelter, in the New York Times
- Read “The Wise Emperor” by Zhu Yue, tr. Jianan Qian and Alyssa Asquith
- A look back at “The Winter Garden” by Regina Kanyu Wang, tr. Emily Jin
- Jennifer Feeley translated a concrete poem by Xi Xi
- THREE Dong Li poem translations by Song Lin
Source: Bruce-Humes.com (2/3/22)
Confessions of a Jade Lord (excerpt): ‘Marry your mother to the villain who killed your father’
By Bruce Humes
This short excerpt from Alat Asem’s Confessions of a Jade Lord (时间悄悄的嘴脸, 阿拉提·阿斯木 著) intriguingly captures several key aspects of Uyghur culture, modern and ancient.
To get his greedy hands on nine hefty chunks of priceless creamy-white, “mutton-fat” jade, Eysa and his gang administer a deadly beating to Xali, a fellow trader. Fearing arrest, Eysa flees Xinjiang for Shanghai where a plastic surgeon fits him with a state-of-the art mask that allows him to return home, initially undetected even by his kin.
Haunted by this misdeed and other behavior unbecoming to a good Muslim — Xali is crippled but not dead, as it turns out — Eysa slips across the border to seek the advice of a diviner, not unlike Altaic peoples who turned for centuries to their shamans for guidance.
Ironically, the necromancer is based in Uzbekistan, one of the ‘stans that held its attractions for Uyghurs even after the 1955 founding of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, originally heralded as offering a level of self-governance. During Soviet times, several waves of Turkophones migrated out of China, lured by the prospect of wealth and greater freedom. In the novel, these emigrants are roundly denounced for betraying their Xinjiang homeland, but this scene suggests that some possess a traditional spirituality no longer available in the Han-dominated People’s Republic.
Oh, and please note: The English version of the novel features a bevy of terms transliterated from the Uyghur, such as pul (money) and aghine (buddy), below. Continue reading
Greetings, and Happy Year of the Tiger!
Paper Republic is thrilled to announce the upcoming publication of the Paper Republic Guide to Contemporary Chinese Literature, to be published March 1st, in paperback and ebook editions.
Paper Republic’s experts have produced a timely, carefully selected guide to the leading writers and intellectuals shaping thought in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and beyond.
Detailed biographical entries cover almost 100 of the most important writers working in the Chinese language today, from Anni Baby to Zhang Yueran, by way of Nobel Prize-winner Mo Yan, providing not only an insight into their lives and work, but selected recommendations for further reading in English translation. There are also special entries for several writers from earlier generations who are among the most significant influences on Chinese writing today—including the satirical essayist and short story writer Lu Xun, and the feminist, and queen of domestic drama, Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang).
The biographies are complemented by five in-depth essays: Dylan Levi King assesses the changing role of the author in Chinese society, US-based academic Zhu Ping discusses women’s writing in Chinese, translator and scholar Andrea Lingenfelter provides an introduction to the rich but often neglected field of Hong Kong literature, while Emily Xueni Jin outlines the increasingly influential field of Chinese science fiction and Rachel Cheung brings us bang up-to-date with the latest in Chinese internet literature. Continue reading