July-August 2016: Altaic Storytelling Newsbriefs

As the Red Carnation FadesCoup d’état Fiction: A Curiously Turkish Genre offers suggested reading for books that capture the Zeitgeist during the years that followed modern Turkey’s not infrequent periods of dictatorship.

The winners of the Junma Literary Awards for Ethnic Minority Writers (骏马奖) — handed out every three years since 1981 — were announced in early August. The competition is designed to promote writing by authors who belong to one of China’s non-Han peoples. A roundtable of five literary figures including Liu Daxian (刘大先), the editor of the quarterly民族文学研究 , discuss the winning titles in聚焦时代生活 彰显民族特色.  One trend: Emerging female writers such as Jin Malian (Hui), Xiao Mei (Naxi) and Tao Liqun (Zhuang). Tao wrote 母亲的岛 (陶丽群著) about the escape of a trafficked village woman.

《保安语汉语词典》, a Bonan-Chinese dictionary, has just been published by the authorities in Gansu’s Linxia City. The Bonan people (aka, Bao’an 保安族), now numbering around just 20,000, “are believed to be descended from Muslim Mongol soldiers stationed in Qinghai during the Yuan or Ming dynasties,” according to Wikipedia, and speak a Mongolic tongue. Since the language does not have its own script, the dictionary represents the sounds of Bonan in IPA and a proposed set of letters (保安语使用记音符号字母表 (方案)). In 2001, the city also published 《东乡语汉语词典》, a Dongxiang-Chinese dictionary. The Dongxiang speak a Mongolic language and number over 600,000, and are concentrated in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, but also live in Ningxia, Qinghai and Xinjiang.

阿云嘎:蒙古族作家应该发挥得天独厚的优势 is an interview with Ayonga, Mongolian author of 满巴扎仓 (阿云嘎著), literally, Manba Rasang. This is a thriller revolving around a mysterious medical canon dating from the Mongol-ruled Yuan Dynasty. Ambitious Manchu courtiers want to take possession of this precious pharmacopoeia, but are thwarted by the temple’s “lama-doctors.” Written in Mongolian and translated into Chinese by female translator and poet Hasen (哈森), the Chinese rendition – no doubt proofed by Ayonga who is bilingual — is in turn being rendered in English by UK-based Jim Weldon.

A profile of ·赛音巴雅尔, an ethnic Mongolian, author and director of China’s Museum of Ethnic Literature (中国少数民族文学馆), located in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

 

Chinese version of The Time Regulation InstituteAt long last, what is arguably Turkey’s most classic novel of the 20th century, Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü, known in English as The Time Regulation Institute, has been published in Chinese. Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s satirical look at the effects of a social engineering project gone awry — as the Turkish authorities desperately instructed the public to ape the West while jettisoning its Ottoman culture — has been rendered by a German-based Chinese translator, Tan Lin, as 时间调校研究所 (谭琳译). Regrettably, the Chinese is based upon the German translation of Tanpınar’s original; indeed, there is a dearth of well trained Turkish-Chinese literary translators, though several of Orhan Pamuk’s novels have been translated from the Turkish for Horizon Books by the likes of Shen Zhixing (我的名字叫红,沈志兴译) and Chen Zhubing (我脑袋里的怪东西, 陈竹冰译).  时间调校研究所 joins a series of five Chinese renditions of contemporary Turkish novels (土耳其当代文学丛书) already published by Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing. They include novels by some of Turkey’s best known living writers, such as  Oya Baydar and Mario Levi (whose  Istanbul Was a Fairy Tale was also translated direct from the Turkish as 伊斯坦布尔是一个童话). And more good news: An additional four Chinese translations of Turkish novels will join the series in late 2016 or early 2017, according to a spokesperson for the publishing house. They are: The Dervish Gate by Ahmet Ümit; Hakan Günday’s The Few; Hakan Bıçakçı’s Dark Room, and Secrets Dreamed in Istanbul by Nermin Yıldırım.

Altaic Storytelling has learned that the Swedish rendition of Last Quarter of the Moon has been commissioned by Bokförlaget Wanzhi, and will be translated by Anna Gustafsson Chen. Previously published editions include Dutch, English, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, and the French version launches in September.

Twenty works by non-Han authors will be granted publication subsidies (扶持专项作品), according to a press release from the 2016 Ethnic Minority Literature Development Project (中国作协少数民族文学发展工程办公室). They include six authors of Altaic origins, including a novel in Kazakh by 海达西·帕提牙克, works in Uyghur by瓦依提江·吾斯曼 and 吐尔逊·木沙, and works in Mandarin by 海风 (Mongolian) and宁延达 (Manchu).

Kaya Genç reviews the premier English translation of Felatun Bey and Rakım Efendi: An Ottoman Novel. The Turkish original by Ahmet Midhat Efendi was first published in 1875. In theFelâtun Bey and Râkım Efendi- An Ottoman Novel newly penned Afterword by Holly Shissler, she suggests it has similarities with Turgenev’s Diary of a Superfluous Man. Felatun Bey is the “shallow Westernized Turk who doesn’t really know Turkish or French yet devotes his life to appearing like a Westerner living in Istanbul.”

Ece Temelkuran: Novels by Provocative Turkish Writer Coming Soon to China

Here, in French, but coming soon in Chinese

Here, en français, but coming soon in Chinese

Like any journalist worth her salt in today’s Turkey, Ece Temelkuran was once fired for writing copy that the government of the day deemed politically incorrect. Her novels are edgy too, touching on sensitive social and political issues, and as a columnist and a novelist she has built up quite a following at home and abroad. While similarly provocative writing by the PRC’s homegrown authors is actively discouraged in the Xi Jinping Era, China’s publishers have apparently taken a liking to the outspoken Temelkuran, and three of her books are now being translated into Chinese.

Due out within 2016 is The Sound of Bananas (Muz Sesleri), while the tale of four women on the road from Tunisia to Lebanon, What Good is a Revolution If I Can’t Dance (Düğümlere Üfleyen Kadınlar, at left) – which reportedly sold 120,000 copies in Turkey — is scheduled for early 2017, both from Dookbook (读客图书). Horizon Books (世纪文景), which has a virtual monopoly over Orhan Pamuk’s novels in Chinese on the mainland, has purchased the rights to Temelkuran’s book-length essay exploring what it means to be Turkish, Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy (Çılgın ve Hüzünlü). She is represented by Istanbul-based Kalem Agency.

In the China context, three books from a contemporary Turkish writer is quite something. Granted, none have hit the bookshelves yet, but when they do, she will join just a handful of authors with several of their books in Chinese, such as Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak and Ahmet Ümit.

In an insightful interview with Refinery29 conducted in Istanbul’s trendy Cihangir just a few days ago, Temelkuran tried to explain how she sees her role after the recent failed coup:

What are your hopes for Turkey in the coming weeks?

Maybe because of the things that I have been through I am not a big fan of the word hope. I am more into the word determination. My determination at the moment is to tell the story of Turkey from those people’s point of view who have been dismissed. My mother was imprisoned when she was a Leftist student in the 1971 coup and my father, as a young lawyer, rescued her from the hands of generals. This is the family I was born into. These are decent people, and the story of people like them has not been told. These are people who believed that there could have been a Turkey without political Islam, one with equal and dignified citizens. They dreamed of a country that could break away from the vicious cycle I have been talking about. Generations paid for this dream like in Iran, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon or even in Afghanistan. It is almost like Persepolis – over and over again. My dream right now is just to tell this story.

La poésie turque sous mandat d’arrêt

In LaCroix (Sous mandat d’arrêt), Professor Laurent Mignon offers a portrait of Turkish poet Hilmi Yavuz, who was arrested on July 27:

Issu de la génération du İkinci Yeni, ce mouvement du grand renouveau lyrique des années cinquante, Yavuz s’est fait l’avocat d’une poésie où se rencontrent classicisme ottoman et les modernismes européens. Ses recueils sont une invitation à subvertir les frontières entre tradition et modernité et Orient et Occident. Et c’est peut-être justement cet univers poétique, où se rencontrent García Lorca et Cheikh Galip, Roumi et Rilke qui fait peur au régime en place. Il s’agit de vers qui remettent en question tous les essentialismes et qui chantent la possibilité d’un autre monde.

Dans son recueil, « Les poèmes de la blessure » (Yara Şiirleri), paru en 2012, Hilmi Yavuz écrivait : « mon pays, ô toi ma solitude !/ où que j’aille/ tombe une rose noire/ mon pays, comme tu ressembles/à ma blessure sans cesse grandissante. »

Junma Literary Prize: Winners of National Award for Writing by non-Han Authors

Uyghur mafiosa: Alat Asem takes us into the colorful world of Xinjiang's Uyghur jade traders

Uyghur mafiosa: Alat Asem takes us into the colorful world of Xinjiang’s jade traders

The winners of the Junma Literary Awards for Ethnic Minority Writers (骏马奖)  — handed out every three years since 1981 — have just been announced. The competition is designed to promote writing by authors who belong to one of China’s non-Han peoples. Entries are permitted in all indigenous languages. Eight of the 24 winners were written in a minority language, and three were translated into Mandarin, one each from Mongolian, Tibetan and Uyghur.

Of particular interest — to me — is the award to Uyghur author Alat Asem for his novel, 《时间悄悄的嘴脸》(The Mute Visage of Time). I am currently co-translating this book from the Chinese with Jun Liu.

 

 

第十一届(2012—2015)全国少数民族文学创作 “骏马奖” 获奖名单

长篇小说奖

 

《白虎寨》 李传锋(土家族)
《破荒》 袁仁琮(侗族)
《时间悄悄的嘴脸》 阿拉提·阿斯木(维吾尔族)
《信仰树》(蒙古文) 乌·宝音乌力吉(蒙古族)
《昨天的部落》(藏文) 旦巴亚尔杰(藏族)

 

For full list that includes award-winning novels, short stories, reportage, poetry, essays, and translation, see 骏马奖.

蔡英文向台灣原住民道歉:中國人也是「外來者」

《纽约时报》报道:

蔡英文說,台灣原住民的文化、習俗、傳統和經濟生活都因這些外來者的到來而被打斷、被剝奪;在強勢外來族群的統治下,原住民成為自己土地上的流浪者、失語者和邊緣人。為此,蔡英文代表台灣政府,向原住民道歉。

「四百年來,每一個曾經來到台灣的政權,透過武力征伐、土地掠奪,強烈侵害了原住民族既有的權利,」蔡英文說。她所指的這些外來者,也包括中國人,而且不僅包括1949年敗逃台灣的國民黨政權,還包括明末清初割據台灣的鄭成功政權,也包括其後的滿清政權。

這段講話似乎意在賦予台灣獨立的民族和歷史地位,和北京一貫宣稱的「台灣自古以來是中國不可分割的一部分」的歷史觀唱反調。在蔡英文的表述中,台灣自古以來就有它的主人,而包括中國人在內的那些外來者,都對台灣的舊主人施加了侵略與掠奪。而依照北京的說法,那些中國經營台灣的行為正是台灣自古屬於中國的歷史證據。鄭成功就被中國官方歷史課本描述為從荷蘭人手中「收復」台灣的民族英雄。

全文报道请见:中國人也是「外來者」

Tsai Ing-wen’s Apology to the Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan

The New York Times reports:

Taiwan’s earliest known residents are believed to have come to the island 6,000 years ago or earlier from Southeast Asia and are part of the Austronesian peoples who range from Madagascar to Polynesia. When Han settlers from mainland China began arriving in the 17th century, indigenous peoples, particularly those on Taiwan’s western plains, faced assimilation, loss of land and outright violence.

Today, indigenous groups face high levels of unemployment, low wages and less access to education and other services.

“Another group of people arrived on these shores, and in the course of history, took everything from the first inhabitants who, on the land they have known most intimately, became displaced, foreign, non-mainstream and marginalized,” Ms. Tsai said.

Coup d’état Fiction: A Curiously Turkish Genre

In the wake of the military’s badly botched putsch, as of July 21st Turkey finds itself once again living under a formal State of Emergency (SOE). This should not come as a big surprise to many citizens, because according to Dr. Zafer Üskül, a law professor and founding member of the Turkish Human Rights Organization, as of 2001 during “40 of its 78 years the Republic of Turkey had, in some form or another, been under extraordinary rule,” (Wikipedia). Prominent among them, of course, being the military coups of 1960, 1971 and 1980.

President Erdoğan’s decision to declare a three-month SOE, while strongly supported by many Turks nationwide, certainly has its critics — though many must be fearful of speaking out. In Why State of Emergency Brings Back Bad Memories in Turkey, Diyarbakir-based Mahmut Bozarslan reminds us of what happened after it was implemented in several Kurdish-dominated provinces in southeastern Turkey starting July 19, 1987:

With the SOE regime, Turkey saw the emptying of villages. It started at Anilmis and Boyunyaka villages of Sirnak, continued with Diyarbakir’s Kelekci and would be repeated thousands of times.

Some villages were emptied for allegedly supporting the PKK, while others were abandoned under PKK pressure or for refusing to join the government-sponsored village guards. Villages were set on fire to prevent their residents’ return. According to a report by a parliamentary investigation committee in 1998, 905 villages and 2,523 rural settlements were emptied and 378,335 people were uprooted until that point. Civil society groups say the numbers are far greater.

This State of Emergency only ended in late 2002, after 15 years.

Bozarslan’s article was published in Al-Monitor, an independent online newspaper that reports on the Middle East. At this tense moment in Turkish politics, it is unlikely we will see many such opinion pieces that openly or indirectly criticize the post-coup actions undertaken by Erdoğan’s administration. One key reason: Like the army, judiciary and academia, the media is currently a prime target for purges. Just in the last few days, the Turkish authorities have “ordered the shutdown of 45 newspapers, three news agencies, 16 television channels, 15 magazines and 29 publishers in a decree that was published in the government’s official gazette on Wednesday,” according to the New York Times.  Arrest warrants have been issued for 47 journalists employed at Zaman newspaper, and 17 journalists have been charged with membership of a terror group. [Read more…]

Mini-database: Modern Turkish Literature in Translation (当代土耳其文学译著迷你数据库)

Updated: July 30, 2016

当代土耳其作家、原作品与其翻译版本书名

20th-21st Century Turkish Authors 

Turkish Titles

Translations into West European Languages & Chinese

A

Sait Faik Abasıyanık

Pir Sultan Abdal

Neslihan Acu

Mehmet Açar

Bilgin Adalı

Halide Edip Adıvar (哈莉黛·埃迪布·阿迪瓦尔)

Erhan Afyoncu 

Adalet Ağaoğlu

Beyazit Akman

[Read more…]

“Le Dernier Quartier de Lune”: French version of Chi Zijian’s ode to the Evenki to launch in September

In September 2016, the French rendition of Chi Zijian’s 《额尔古纳河右岸》will join several previously published foreign language editions including Dutch (Het laatste kwartier van de maan); English (Last Quarter of the Moon); Italian (Ultimo quarto di Luna); Japanese (アルグン川の右岸) , and Spanish (A la orilla derecha del Río Argún).

Le dernier quartier de luneLe Dernier Quartier de Lune is co-translated by Stéphane Lévêque and Yvonne André, and published by Editions Philippe Picquier.

Narrated in the first person by the aged wife of the last chieftain of an Evenki clan, Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸) is a moving tale of the decline of reindeer-herding nomads in the sparsely populated, richly forested mountains that border on Russia.

Over the last three centuries, three waves of outsiders have encroached upon the Evenki’s isolated way of life: the Russians, whose warring and plundering eventually pushed the Evenki down from Siberia to the southern bank of the Argun River, the tributary of the Amur that defines the Sino-Russian border; the Japanese, who forcibly recruited them into the ranks of the Manchukuo Army; and the Han Chinese of the People’s Republic, who felled the forests that are crucial to the survival of reindeer, outlawed hunting, and eventually coerced the Evenki to leave the mountains for life in a “civilized” permanent settlement.

For an extract from the French novel, click here.

For a list of multilingual links to the various versions of the novel, book reviews in Chinese, English, French and Spanish and more, click here.

Vladivostok, Ancestral Manchu Territory: Home to Russia’s Pacific Fleet — For Now

In Vladivostok Lures Chinese Tourists (Many Think It’s Theirs), the NYT’s Andrew Higgins reminds us that the city was ceded by the Qing Dynasty to Russia in 1860 in one of those infamous “unequal treaties”:

Cui Rongwei, a businessman from northeastern China, could not afford a trip to Paris, so he settled for an exotic taste of Europe right on China’s doorstep. He liked Vladivostok so much that he has made three trips there to savor a city so strikingly different from his own hometown just a few score miles away.

Yet, like nearly all Chinese who visit a city whose Russian name means “master of the East,” Mr. Cui is absolutely certain about one thing: The place should really be called Haishenwai [海參崴], the name it had back when China was master in these parts.

A native of the Chinese province of Jilin in Manchuria, Mr. Cui said it was a “historical fact” that the home of Russia’s Pacific Fleet and the showcase of President Vladimir V. Putin’s ambitions to project his country as an Asian power is in reality Chinese territory.

Or at least it was, until the Treaty of Beijing, signed in 1860 after China’s defeat by Britain in the Second Opium War, placed Vladivostok and other territory to the northeast of what is now North Korea firmly in Russian hands.