“Brothers”: Here’s Newsweek’s Book Review Repackaged for Chinese Eyes

Isaac Stone Fish’s review of Yu Hua’s Brothers (兄弟) has only been online for a few days at Newsweek, but it has already been translated for readers in China by Cankao Xiaoxi (参考消息). Cankao Xiaoxi, a Chinese-language digest of world news, is on virtually every newsstand in China by 7:30 am.

To show you how censorship/repackaging works in the People’s Republic, Newsweek’s original book review is fully reproduced below. Words that have been crossed out are those that did not appear in the published Chinese translation (Cankao Xiaoxi, March 25, 2009, p 15) :

[Read more…]

Transparent Translator Series: Bruce Humes and his “Shanghai Baby” (上海宝贝)

Banned in China, Shanghai Baby (上海宝贝) captured the interest of publishers in the West, and I was commissioned by Simon & Schuster to translate the novel, which was published in 2001. Perhaps because my version became a best-seller in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the Chinese original was later translated into several languages including French, German, Italian and Japanese, over the years several people have interviewed me about the translation process. What follows below is my favorite among those interviews. This interview originally appeared at a web site run by Johnny Katchoolik, an indie musician whose works can be found here.

However, of late it seems no longer to be online. So I have copied it here (minus just the introduction and my picture, but without any other editing).

Questions by Fang Fang are in bolded italics, followed by my answers (Bruce Humes) in normal typeface.

How long have you been living in China?

I arrived via Taipei in 1978 and have worked in various parts of China since, save five years or so spent intermittently in the States. Have based myself in several cities during that time—Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Taipei—but travel very frequently, particularly in Shandong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong.  

What brought you to China initially?

Intense interest in two rather different areas: A desire to master classical Chinese so that I could read Daoist writings in the original, and curiosity about socialism in action. [Read more…]

Transparent China Translator Series: Interview with Li Jihong, “Kite Runner” Chinese Translator

Transparent Translator Series

Interview with Li Jihong (李继宏): Mainland Chinese translator of The Kite Runner (《追风筝的人》)

“The Kite Runner” /《追风筝的人》:

An Afghan Childhood Re-packaged for the Middle Kingdom

It was an intriguing sentence alluding to censorship in the translator’s post-script that initially piqued my curiosity:

“There are certain places in the original text [of  Kite Runner] which are incompatible with Chinese sensitivities. Measuring his words ever so carefully, the translator has polished the copy while maintaining the original meaning.” (My translation)

原书个别不合国情的地方译者酌情在措词上加以改动意思仍一概如旧 (1)

Now what could there possibly be in a childhood story of friendship, betrayal and a belated but moving coming-of-age, set in Afghanistan – a country hardly figuring on China’s world map – that would ruffle “Chinese sensitivities,” I wondered? [Read more…]

Tibet Travel Piece Revamped for Chinese Eyes

Newly accessible from Beijing via a luxury train ride, Lhasa and a few other sites in Tibet are the subject of a travel review just published in the New York Times. Author Joshua Kurlantzick will no doubt be touched to see an extract of “Tibet, Now” appear almost simultaneously in Chinese in the December 12 edition of Cankao Xiaoxi.

He may be surprised at how it has been repackaged, however…

Xinjiang according to Cankao Xiaoxi

What’s more convincing to the masses than propaganda out of Beijing? Discreetly massaged copy from the New York Times, evidently.

The New York Times‘ Howard W. French recently visited Korla, discovering that despite the oil boom in this “sleepy oasis” in Xinjiang, “not everyone is enjoying the benefits of the town’s new wealth.”

And just who might “not everyone” be? Well, you would have to have read the English article, ‘cuz the Chinese version ain’t gonna tell ya…