March 18 Update: Nicky Harman to Translate into English
Chan Koonchung, the Beijing-based, HK-born author of the Fat Years (盛世) has just launched his new, sure-to-be-controversial novel in Chinese, entitled <裸命> (The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver). Hong Kong’s Peony Literary Agency reports it has negotiated the sale of rights to Transworld Publishing, and plans are to release it in English in May 2014.
According to book reviewer Du Ting (杜婷), the tale is written from the point of view of a young Tibetan man who is a volunteer for an animal protection NGO and also serves as a security guard at a hotel enigmatically named after the CCP’s key “maintain stability” policy (维稳宾馆), not to mention his other “identity”—as lover to a Han woman.
No wonder the Chinese media outside the mainland—naturally, it has only been published in Hong Kong and Taiwan—describe the novel as “erotic political fiction” (情色政治小说). Read the rest of this entry »
Bertrand Mialaret examine la traduction anglaise du roman chinois de Chi Zijian, Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸, 迟子建著), l’histoire de la crépuscule des Evenki dans la dernière partie du XXe siècle (l’article français en entier):
Les Evenki ont de l’amour pour leurs rennes qui sont beaucoup plus qu’un troupeau, presque des partenaires. « In my eyes, white reindeer are clouds fleeting across the face of the earth. I’ve never encountered another animal that possesses the docile temperament and endurance of the reindeer . . . Reindeer were certainly bestowed upon us by the Spirits, for without these creatures we would not be.»
Les hommes et les rennes s’accompagnent mutuellement dans les migrations à la recherche des mousses pour les rennes et de nouveaux terrains de chasse. Ils sont libres avec leurs grelots mais reviennent chaque soir au camp. On ne mange pas leur chair, on boit leur lait et on les utilise pour transporter hommes et campements.
Les rennes sont l’obstacle majeur à une vie plus sédentaire. Comme dit la narratrice: « my reindeer have committed no crime and I don’t want to see them imprisoned either .»
Update: Mialaret has just put this piece up in English: Chi Zijian, the Death of Shamans and Reindeer Herders.
Une terre de lait et de miel, Stéphane Lévêque’s rendering of Fan Wen’s Shuǐ Rǔ dàdì (水乳大地, 范稳著), will be available for purchase in French bookstores and online beginning March 28.
Shui Ru Dadi tells the tale of a multi-ethnic settlement in Lancangjiang Canyon—gateway to Tibet—beset by battles between arrogant French Catholic missionaries, incompetent Han officials and their marauding troops, Naxi Dongba Shamanists, and the dominant Tibetans, not all of whom lead pacific, vegetarian lives in the local lamasery.
The saga spans most of the 20th century, hopping back and forth between the decades and capturing the non-linear Tibetan sense of time. Fan Wen’s imagination almost seems to get the better of him as Living Buddhas levitate, Shamans summon spirits for battle, and Communist Party officials rue their Red Guard days, but his tale is firmly rooted in the locale’s colorful history. Historical fiction with dabs of highly entertaining “supernatural realism” thrown in, if you like.
Tired of rants castigating Mo Yan, the alleged Chinese “government stooge” and recently decorated Nobel Laureate?
Buruma: “A novelist should be judged on literary merit”
Tiresome because most of his critics have read few, if any of his novels in any language; Mo Yan bashing has so far concentrated on the much-awaited criticisms he has not uttered about his government’s shameless censorship policy. With Folk Opera, we get a better educated view from Ian Buruma, who has actually read some of Mo Yan’s novels in both Chinese and English translation.
What gives Mo Yan’s novels their highly idiosyncratic tone is the combination of a great literary imagination and a peasant spirit. Howard Goldblatt’s translations catch this atmosphere brilliantly. The prose reads well in English, without losing a distinctly Chinese feel, but it is very far from the classical Chinese tradition. There is nothing mandarin, or even urbane, about Mo Yan’s work. He has retained the earthy character of rural Shandong, where he grew up in a farming family. Read the rest of this entry »
As Geomagic CEO Ping Fu is finding out, just because you got your pass to leave the Middle Kingdom doesn’t mean you can engage in free speech now, i.e., actually talk about about what you experienced there. According to Katie Baker at The Daily Beast (Online Chinese Attack), Ping Fu and her new memoir Bend, Not Break, “have become the targets of a virulent attack by China’s Internet vigilantes, who have slammed her account of the country’s Mao-era troubles and lampooned the book on Amazon with a flood of one-star reviews.” Writes Baker:
. . .many of Ping’s critics seem to take offense at the book’s airing of China’s dirty laundry—namely, of the traumas of the Cultural Revolution—to non-Chinese readers. Others seem to resent Ping for having escaped China to resettle into a successful life in the United States. As one blogger wrote, “I think the most important point that outrages Chinese is that Ping … lived a better-than-average life.”
Of her critics, Ping says, “I sympathize in some way, because we are in a generation where most of us, whether a ‘black element’ or Red Guard, we have all gone through a period where I feel we all have been victims in life. I’m lucky that I came to the United States and made a better life, and many people over there did not. And they may be angry.”
Still, she notes, “there are so many people in the world, there are so many women in developing countries [who] have no voice,” she adds. “Like that little girl who was lonely and scared, they have no voice. But I have a voice now, today. And I need to talk about it and write what happened.”
伦敦出版商 Harvill Secker 一月 17 日推出了东北作家迟子建的第一本译成英文的小说，《Last Quarter of the Moon》。为了《中华读书报》，慷慨先生找到我，进行了有关我翻译这本小说的初衷的采访：
徐穆实 [Bruce Humes]：首先要明白一个事实：书名一般由出版方来定，译者甚至原作家的想法只是建议罢了。要知道，外文版权是外国出版社拥有的，当然是他们说了算。
我的建议本来是直译：The Right Bank of the Argun。这书名不仅忠实原作，也方便引起西方读者的好奇心。因为用“右岸”表达河流的方位有点莫名其妙，西方读者习惯用东南西北来表达。就算西方读者 不知道这条河是几百年以来中俄边境的界线，单凭这种奇特的表达方式，也会引起他们的好奇心。
但英格兰的出版人被早些出版的《额尔古纳河右岸》意大利译文的书名 Ultimo quarto di luna 所吸引，就把它译成英文的The Last Quarter of the Moon。
全文可以在此下载 PDF 版或者在线读。
Chinese émigré author Yiyun Li—raised in the PRC, now in the US—shows why mainland authors would probably prefer their works be critiqued by Westerners who hold Things Chinese in greater awe (Pow! By Mo Yan—Review ):
Has the Nobel laureate used filth and fabulism to avoid politics in his latest novel?
Late last year, the Chinese writer Mo Yan was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. His status as a Party favourite in China and his statement comparing censorship to airport security – viewed as witty in the Chinese media and a blunder in the west – pushed him to centre stage, and rekindled the perennial debate on the relationship between politics and literature.
Pow! is his first novel to appear in English since the Nobel honour. Politics aside, this book seems to represent everything that has gone amiss in Mo Yan’s work, and perhaps in a broader way what has gone awry in China’s literature of the last 30 years. In the 1990s, Wang Xiaobo, a Chinese writer with millions of followers, famously stated that writing was like masturbation for him – something done out of an inexpressible urge and ending with a pleasurable emptiness. Disturbing or entertaining as the statement might sound, Mo Yan, the most prestigious writer at the moment in China, seems to have confirmed that observation. Pow! reads like public masturbation; at times laughable, in the end it reminds readers that such an act should be done in private rather than in print.