Which Classic?

MCLC Resource Center is pleased announce publication of Yichun Xu and Frederick Bowman’s translation of the first chapter of Which Classic? (何典), by Zhang Nanzhuang 張南莊.

Which Classic? is a ten-chapter comic novella written in the traditional linked-chapter form. Circulated in manuscript form for several decades, it was first published by Shenbao Guan in 1878 and remained an obscure book until it was rediscovered by May Fourth scholars, such as Liu Bannong 劉半農, Lu Xun 魯迅, and Wu Zhihui 吳稚暉, who recognized it as one of the earliest extant novels to make extensive use of Wu-dialect vocabulary. Which Classic? is composed in a peculiar hybrid language that makes use of Wu vernacular vocabulary, classical Chinese, and plain Chinese (白話文). Its heterogeneous language is the source of much of the novella’s humor. Frequently a given phrase will have one meaning when read as plain Chinese but another when read in Wu vernacular. This implied second reading is often silly or obscene and serves to add to the irreverent and tongue-in-cheek tone of the work as a whole. In this translation of the first chapter of Which Classic?, the translators have attempted to convey these multiple linguistic levels as often as possible, but such plays on words are, of course, a particular challenge to the translator. The translators are working on a rendering of the entire novella.

The translation can be accessed here: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/which-classic/

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

Liao Yiwu’s Prison Poetry published

I’d like to announce the publication of my translation of Liao Yiwu’s collection of prison poetry and other writings as Love Songs from the Gulags on June 4, 2019, in London, UK, by Barque Press:

http://www.barquepress.com/publications.php?i=104

Excerpts from the launch, including poetry readings by Liao Yiwu, can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw5mwW8X5AQ

Michael Martin Day (mday@nu.edu)

New translation of Yecao

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new translation of Lu Xun’s Weeds (野草), the first in English since the Yangs’ monumental translation, by poet and translator Matt Turner. Featuring an introduction my professor Nick Admussen, and woodcuts by the artist Monika Lin. Seaweed Salad Editions, a small press in Shanghai, is the publisher.

The book is available from Small Press Distribution or through the publisher’s website.

No one here needs an introduction to the work of Lu Xun, but here are what some people had to say about the translation:

Weird syntactical swerves, psychological scratch loops, and rocket trajectories characterize these poems. Certainly, they never yield to Western Modernism’s economies. Instead, Lu Xun’s oneiric imagery is ever chocked and gusty; unexpected pronouns pop up like masked faces at a window. It would take a poet-translator as deft, daring, and refractory as Matt Turner to take on the sarcasm, playfulness, mystery, and aggressive invention of these poems in Chinese. If ever the worms of boredom have settled into your heart, this is the book that will draw them out, unthread them through your pores, and leave them to dangle until “they squint at each other and, slowly, slowly, scatter.” Continue reading

Experimental Chinese Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jacob Edmond’s review of Experimental Chinese Literature: Translation, Technology, Poetics (Brill 2018), by Tong King Lee. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/edmond/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Experimental Chinese Literature:
Translation, Technology, Poetics

By Tong King Lee


Reviewed by Jacob Edmond
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Tong King Lee, Experimental Chinese Literature: Translation, Technology, Poetics. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2018. viii + 182 pp. ISBN: 978-90-04-29337-3.

“In translating a work, I mistake it for my own,” writes Taiwanese poet Chen Li 陳黎. More and more writers today are making their texts from other texts through translation, cultural borrowing, and, increasingly, through the affordances of new media technologies. Around the world, their readers are likewise searching for new ways of understanding and reading this literature of repetition, translation, and remediation.

Tong King Lee 李忠慶 takes up this challenge in his book Experimental Chinese LiteratureTranslation, Technology, Poetics. Lee cites Chen Li’s statement in making the case for the inextricable relationship between poetic creation and translation in contemporary Chinese experimental literature (80). Lee defines experimental literature as “works that tap into various technologies in foregrounding their materiality.” For Lee, “experimental literature is . . . characterized by the interplay between the corporeality of the sign . . . and the travel of the text across languages and media” (166). Lee’s concern is thus primarily with works of poetry and contemporary art that highlight their own material qualities—the texture of the page, the shape that writing makes on a flickering screen, or in the space of a park in an open-air exhibition—and that explore textual translations not just between languages but also, importantly, between media. Continue reading

Mouse vs Cat review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Xiaorong Li’s review of Mouse vs Cat in Chinese Literature: Tales and Commentary (University of Washington Press, 2019), translated and edited by Wilt Idema. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/lixiaorong/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Mouse vs Cat in Chinese Literature: 
Tales and Commentary

Translated and introduced by Wilt Idema


Reviewed by Xiaorong Li

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Mouse vs. Cat in Chinese Literature: Tales and Commentary, translated and introduced by Wilt L. Idema. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019. 272 pp. ISBN 9780295744834 (paperback); 9780295744858 (hardcover)

Mouse vs Cat in Chinese Literature is a new book by Wilt Idema, yet another showcase of his extraordinary scholarship and translation skills. Judging by its cover, the book might appear to be just a collection of translated cat-mouse tales with the translator’s introduction, but it is much more than that. In addition to the translation of important texts, it is a broad and rich survey not only of literary representations of mouse versus cat within the larger context of Chinese history, but also of anthropomorphism in world literature.

The book begins with an introduction on animal tales in various literary traditions around the world and continues with general observations on the distinctive ways in which Chinese literature of different historical periods and cultural genres features animals. Although there is a lack of “talking animals” in the classics or other forms of high literature, popular entertainment literature, Idema observes, is rich in animal characters that plead for justice, such as the mouse in underworld court case stories. Continue reading

Tiananmen 30 Years On

Announcing the June/July issue of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, the “Tiananmen Thirty Years On” feature, edited by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho and Lucas Klein, along with a special feature of poems by and in mourning of Meng Lang 孟浪.

The following CONTRIBUTORS have generously allowed us to showcase their work:

❀ REMEMBRANCES
Tammy Lai-Ming Ho, Gregory Lee, Ding Zilin (translated by Kevin Carrico), Andréa Worden, Shuyu Kong (with translations of poems by Colin Hawes), Ai Li Ke, Anna Wang, and Sara Tung

❀ POETRY
Bei Dao (translated by Eliot Weinberger), Duo Duo (translated by Lucas Klein), Liu Xiaobo (translated by Ming Di), Xi Chuan (translated by Lucas Klein), Yang Lian (translated by Brian Holton), Xi Xi (translated by Jennifer Feeley), Meng Lang (translated by Anne Henochowicz), Lin Zhao (translated by Chris Song), Liu Waitong (translated by Lucas Klein), Chan Lai Kuen (translated by Jennifer Feeley), Mei Kwan Ng (translated by the author), Yibing Huang (translated by the author), Ming Di (translated by the author), Anthony Tao, Aiden Heung, Kate Rogers, Ken Chau, Ilaria Maria Sala, Ian Heffernan, Reid Mitchell, Lorenzo Andolfatto, Joseph T. Salazar Continue reading

Waste Tide review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Cara Healey’s review of Waste Tide, by Chen Qiufan and translated by Ken Liu. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/healey/. My thanks to Michael Berry, our translations book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Waste Tide

By Chen Qiufan
Translated by Ken Liu


Reviewed by Cara Healey
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2019)


Chen Qiufan, The Waste Tide Tr. by Ken Liu. New York: Tor Books, 2019. 352 pp. ISBN-10: 0765389312; ISBN-13: 978-0765389312

Chen Qiufan’s 陈楸帆 novel Waste Tide (荒潮), expertly translated by Ken Liu, is a significant contribution to the growing genre of Chinese science fiction. The genre has earned acclaim both for its imaginative nature and as a lens into contemporary China; Waste Tide succeeds on both fronts. Many of Chinese science fiction’s recent milestones have centered around Liu Cixin 刘慈欣. Liu’s The Three-Body Problem (三体) (also translated by Ken Liu) won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015. Frant Gwo’s 郭帆 2019 film adaptation of Liu Cixin’s The Wandering Earth (流浪地球) earned $700 million at the box office, becoming the second-highest grossing Chinese film of all time, and was recently released on Netflix. Waste Tide follows in the footsteps of these achievements while also demonstrating that that there is more to Chinese science fiction than Liu Cixin. Continue reading

Shen Haobo ‘Hong Kong’

Shen Haobo
HONG KONG

for thirty years
every single year
spring days waning
cicadas come calling
that one day
people there
come out in the streets
light candles for us
observe our memory
grieve
for us
they do not forget

the only city on earth

2019.6.13
Translated by Martin Winter, 6/15/19

“I don’t dare to share this poem in my WeChat groups. Unfortunately, most people in mainland China have no idea at all what happens abroad. They don’t know anything. Least of all that Hong Kong is a very special city with a great heart full of love and freedom. And for us Chinese people, that single one city on earth is slowly disappearing.”–Translated by MW, 6/15/19 Continue reading

New poem by Shen Haobo

Shen Haobo
NO TITLE

you don’t have to take part
of course you don’t dare since long ago
you don’t have to support it
of course you don’t dare either
but please don’t deride
please keep some respect
for the last bit of good
in your fearful heart
long tamed into submission
please don’t hang your head from far away
don’t say with a sigh
“what use is this?
this is no use.”
even if you have been steeped in desperation
you should know
this is not a question of useful or not.

June 2019, shared on WeChat
Translated by Martin Winter, June 2019 Continue reading

The Nuoso Book of Origins

The Nuosu Book of Origins: A Creation Epic from Southwest China
TRANSLATED BY MARK BENDER AND AKU WUWU FROM A TRANSCRIPTION BY JJIVOT ZOPQU (University of Washington Press, 2010). 296 pp., 17 bandw illus., 1 map, 6 x 9 in.
$30.00S PAPERBACK (9780295745695)
$95.00X HARDCOVER (9780295745688)

The Nuosu people, who were once overlords of vast tracts of farmland and forest in the uplands of southern Sichuan and neighboring provinces, are the largest division of the Yi ethnic group in southwest China. Their creation epic plots the origins of the cosmos, the sky and earth, and the living beings of land and water. This translation is a rare example in English of Indigenous ethnic literature from China. Continue reading

Liu Na’ou’s “Scenery”

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Liu Na’ou’s “Scenery,” translated by Travis Telzrow. The translation appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/scenery/.

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

Scenery

By Liu Na’ou 劉吶鷗[1]

Translated by Travis Telzrow


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2019)


Cover of the original edition of Scenes from the Metropolis.

People were sitting on speed. Fields flew by. Streams flew by. Thatched cottages, stone bridges, willow trees; every piece of scenery existed in the eyes for just a split-second before vanishing. But here in Ranqing’s hands was a newspaper smelling of fresh oil, its pages covered with typed letters aligned like soldiers in the Roman legion that bounced along with the train’s easy back-and-forth rocking as the morning sun shone on them through the car’s window. Ranqing was hoping to obtain some information about a very important conference being held in Xindu on Monday, so he was being whisked away from that dimly-lit editorial office, which reeked of oil and paper, on this early morning express train. Continue reading

Empires of Dust review

Source: LARB, China Channel (5/27/19)
Socialist Literature for the Capitalist Era
By Dylan Levi King

Dylan Levi King reviews Empires of Dust by Jiang Zilong

Jiang Zilong’s novel Empires of Dust, newly translated by Olivia Milburn and Christopher Payne, is unlike anything else published in translation from Chinese in the past decade or so. Jiang, a 78-year-old native of Hebei Province, made a name for himself with A Day in the Life of the Chief of the Electrical Equipment Bureau (机电局长的一天), a 1976 novella first criticized for revisionism and then praised as the future of Chinese literature. Decades later, in 2008, came Empires of Dust (农民帝国), a sprawling epic of modern Chinese history that can only be defined as capitalist realism.

Jiang comes from the same literary background that produced established names such as Mo YanYan Lianke and Jia Pingwa. All of those writers got their start with politically-approved hack work, too. But while they went in other directions, Jiang Zilong continued to write in a literary style codified in the 1950s. Although he published most of his major works in the 1980s and 1990s, and Empires of Dust in the mid-2000s, Jiang is something of a living literary fossil. To understand his work, one has to step back to the era of socialist realism and revolutionary romanticism. Continue reading

I Love XXX and Other Plays review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of John B. Weinstein’s review of I Love XXX and Other Plays, by Meng Jinghui, edited by Claire Conceison. The review appears below and at its online home http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/john-weinstein/. My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

I Love XXX and Other Plays

By Meng Jinghui
Edited by Claire Conceison


Reviewed by John B. Weinstein
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2019)


Meng Jinghui, I Love XXX and Other Plays Ed. Claire Conceison. New York: Seagull Books, 2017. Viii+355 pp.+DVD. $45.00 ISBN 9780857423849

I nearly encountered Meng Jinghui’s 孟京辉 play Longing for Worldly Pleasures (思凡) in 1998, when I arrived in Beijing for a few weeks of research for my dissertation on the development of modern comic drama in China. When I met with a theater official in Beijing, I asked what I should see while there; although I cannot recall what he did ultimately suggest I see, I do recall him showing me a program or poster or some such artifact for a production called Longing for Worldly Pleasures.  That, he noted, was what I should have seen, but its run was already over. Had I only planned the trip better.

What I did not yet know, and maybe no one truly knew, though perhaps this official surmised it, was that Meng Jinghui would become THE big thing in Chinese drama in the coming years, and his work, though by no means strictly comedy—and by no means strictly any one thing—might have formed the ending of my research project. To this date, while I have been fortunate enough to see the English-language adaptation of Head without Tailreferenced in the volume’s introduction, and even more fortunate to spend an evening hanging out with Meng himself in his hotel room in Boston, I have never seen a production of Meng’s work within China itself. Can a volume of English translations of Meng Jinghui’s work compensate? Continue reading