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

专访|土耳其作家伊切:伊斯坦布尔是帝国,安卡拉是共和国

In a welcome move to break the near-monopoly of fiction sourced from a familiar pool of American, European and Japanese writers, a batch of new Turkish works will be appearing in bookstores throughout China in 2017. And they won’t be limited to further releases by Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, whose name is virtually synonymous with Istanbul among Chinese readers, or Turkey’s most popular female novelist Elif Şafak (The Bastard of Istanbul).

One of the fresh faces coming to China is Ece Temelkuran’s. Notably, she will have not one but three books — including two novels — out in Chinese within

Ece Temelkuran: Turkish novelist, political commentator and investigative journalist

Ece Temelkuran: Turkish novelist, political commentator and investigative journalist

2017. The first of these, 香蕉的低语 (Banana Sounds), set in war-torn Beirut, launched in October 2016. Now under translation are a novel about four women motoring across North Africa, 《下诅咒的女人》(暂译)(Why Have a Revolution if I Can’t Dance), and a book-length exploration of “Turkishness,” intriguingly entitled 我的祖国:土耳其的疯狂与忧愁 (Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy).

At long last, Turkey’s most classic novel of the 20th century, The Time Regulation Institute, was published in Chinese earlier this year (时间调校研究所). Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s satirical look at the effects of a social engineering project gone awry — in which the Turkish authorities urge the public to jettison its Ottoman culture and ape the West no matter how bizarre the result — has been rendered by a German-based Chinese translator, Tan Lin (谭琳). 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 Pamuk’s novels have been translated from the Turkish for Horizon Books.

%e9%a6%99%e8%95%89%e7%9a%84%e4%bd%8e%e8%af%adThe Time Regulation Institute joins a series of five Chinese renditions of contemporary Turkish novels already published by Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing (土耳其当代文学丛书). They include novels by some of Turkey’s best known living writers, such as Oya Baydar and Mario Levi. An additional four Turkish novels will join the series in 2017. They are: The Dervish Gate by Ahmet Ümit (托钵僧之门); Hakan Günday’s The Few (黑暗边缘); Hakan Bıçakçı’s Dark Room (黑屋), and Secrets Dreamed in Istanbul (伊斯坦布尔寻梦记,暂译) by Nermin Yıldırım. [Read more…]

《额尔古纳河右岸》的英文译者: “因为书里的故事感动了我”

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采访:

《读书报》:为什么使用现在这个英译书名,而不是原书名《额尔古纳河右岸》的直译?

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

The Transparent Translator: Cindy Carter on “Dream of Ding Village”

Dream of Ding VillageHere’s my interview with Cindy Carter, Chinese-to-English translator of Dream of Ding Village:

Bruce Humes (Ethnic ChinaLit): You studied Japanese and lived in Japan for several years before moving to Beijing. Has your knowledge of Japanese, the people and/or the language been useful to you in mastering Chinese? What made you willing to leave Japan to pursue your writing career in China?

Cindy Carter: Japan was the path that led me to China. These days, it probably makes better sense to do one’s studies the other way around, but back in the 1980s, Japan was the economic powerhouse, the modern miracle, and China was just an afterthought, the slow cousin, an object of fascination for classicists and linguists. . .certainly not the most obvious starting point for anyone wanting to understand the rubric of 20th century geopolitics or economic development in Asia. For every nascent Sinologist, there seemed to be a dozen budding specialists in Korean or Japanese contemporary history, politics or economics, and I was one of the latter. I did consider adding Chinese to a minor in Japanese and majors in Economics and Political Science, but decided it was more than I could handle and still manage to graduate in 4 years. I’ve been kicking myself in the arse for that lack of foresight ever since. [Read more…]

Translator interview: Stéphane Lévêque, Chinese-to-French translator of Fan Wen’s “Harmonious Land”

As those knowledgeable about Chinese literature in translation may have noted, one occasionally finds EuropeanStéphane Lévêque publishers—particularly in France—are willing to translate and publish Chinese fiction long before these “unknown” authors are “discovered” by the English-speaking world. Ethnic ChinaLit spoke recently with Stéphane Lévêque, who is busy translating Harmonious Land (水乳大地) into French, the first novel [May 2014 note: now published as Terre de lait et de miel] in a trilogy by author Fan Wen (范稳) set along the borders of Yunnan and Tibet:

Vous avez été choisi pour traduire «Harmonious Land » (水乳大地) en français, et le roman sera publié par Philippe Picquier. Vous avez déjà traduit pas mal de livres du chinois, par exemple, «Le Chant des regrets éternels »  (长恨歌) de Wang Anyi (王安忆), ainsi que quelques livres de Jimmy Liao (几米).  Est-ce correct?

Pour être plus précis, j’ai traduit quelques textes de Yu Dafu (郁达夫), y compris « Rivière d’automne », la biographie de Jin Xing (金星), une danseuse transsexuelle anciennement colonel dans l’APL, et deux romans de Wang Anyi, «Amour sur une colline dénudée » (荒山之恋) et « Le Chant des regrets éternels » (co-traduit avec Yvonne André). J’ai aussi traduit quelques livres pour enfants chez Picquier dans la série « Táoqì bāo mǎ xiǎo tiào xìliè » (淘气包马小跳系列) de Yang Hongying (杨红樱), et enfin plusieurs albums de Jimmy Liao que j’adore pour les éditions Bayard. [Read more…]

Fan Wen: New Novel to Explore Culture Clash behind Yunnan-Vietnam Railway

Fan Wen (范稳), the Chinese Catholic author who recently completed his fictional trilogy spotlighting cultural and religious collisions in the “multicultural wonderland” of the Yunnan-Tibet border, now has another historical novel in mind.

The first book in the published series, Harmonious Land (水乳大地), recounts the tale of a multi-ethnic settlement in Lancangjiang Canyon (gateway to Tibet), beset by battles between arrogant French Catholic missionaries, incompetent officials and their marauding troops, Naxi Dongba Shamanists, and the dominant Tibetans, not all of whom lead pacific, vegetarian lives in the local lamasery.

Ethnic ChinaLit spoke with Fan Wen about his new work-in-progress:

Q: Word has it that you’re working on a new novel about the rail line linking China’s Kunming and Vietnam’s Haiphong that was constructed during French colonial rule of Indochina. How are you preparing for this project?

A: Yes, it’s about this railroad that’s soon to be completely abandoned. I rather enjoy the ‘history of decline’. It gives one a certain sense of desolation. After the Yunnan-Vietnam railway was completed [1910], it actually brought with it the collision and fusion of two distinct civilizations. The railway passed through the lands of several of Yunnan’s ethnic minorities, whose cultures were more backward than that of the Tibetans, and even more vulnerable. I intend to use several French nationals who were working on the railroad as the main characters. I’ll write about their lives in a foreign land, and their experiences against the backdrop of that alien culture, including the dangers they faced, their loves and their fates.

I’ve already read a lot of background material, conducted interviews along the line, and even stayed in the old train stations. I’m conceptualizing the story right now. [end]

Fan Wen’s Yunnan-Tibetan Trilogy: A Catholic Chinese Author’s Imagination Takes Flight

The China Daily features a piece on the third and final novel in a trilogy exploring the border on either side of Yunnan and Tibet:

At last author Fan Wen (范稳) has his reward for a decade of immersion in the multicultural wonderland along the Yunnan-Tibet border: Canticle to the Land (大地雅歌), the closing novel in his longish trilogy, has just been published in Chinese.

Why locate the tale there? “It’s my own ‘creative paradise’, an inspiration of sorts,” explains Fan, a devout Catholic from Sichuan province. “You can interpret this as a summons from God, or as a writer who has been vanquished by a certain spirituality, the cultures and beliefs of the people of this realm.”

That day in 1999 when he came across the “lonely” grave of a martyred Swiss missionary in Lancangjiang Canyon, Father Maurice Tornay, he realized he had found his “sacred vocation”. Indeed, the area straddling the provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan and Tibet autonomous region is an anthropologist’s dream. One finds Tibetans, Han, Naxi, Yi, Lisu and other ethnic groups living together.

“I find describing the interaction – and collisions – between different cultures a challenging and engaging affair,” Fan says. “Conflicts have taken place due to differences in culture and faith, like wars between Naxi and Tibetans, and Tibetans and Han. Irreconcilable contradictions occurred between Tibetan Buddhism and Catholicism when the latter was introduced.”

Interview: Author Murong Xuecun (慕容雪村) on his Undercover Role Investigating a Chinese Pyramid Scheme

Murong Xuecun has gained a name for himself through his unflattering vignettes of gambling, drinking, whoring and corruption in contemporary China. His best-seller, Leave me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu (成都,今夜请将我遗忘), prompted the authorities to convene a conference solely to critique the novel for sullying the Sichuan city’s image.

But in a change of tack away from fiction writing, early this year the author decided to experience—first hand—just how a “direct selling” operation in Jiangxi’s Shangrao recruits and gains control over its members. His revelations hit the stands as the cover story for Southern Metropolis Weekly’s April 19 edition: “Murong Xuecun—Undercover 23 Days in a Pyramid Selling Organization” (慕容雪村卧底传销23天之一).

Read my interview with Murong Xuecun about how he did it, and why.

Interview with China Novelist Fan Wen: A Century of Cultural Collisions in Shangri-la

Shuiru 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. 

Below, Ethnic ChinaLit’s Bruce Humes interviews Fan Wen (范稳), author of Shuiru Dadi (水乳大地). Nominated for the 2008 Maodun Literature Prize, the novel has sold nearly 50,000 copies in China, and Stéphane Lévêque, who rendered Wang Anyi’s Song of Everlasting Sorrow (恨歌) into French, has been chosen to translate Shuiru Dadi. [May 2014 update: the French version has been published as Une terre de lait et de miel by Philippe Picquier. See book cover below.] The rights to the English version are still open. [Read more…]

Book Review: “English” by Wang Gang, or Growing up Han in Fictional Xinjiang

Book review + interview with the translators of “English” (《英格力士》 ) by Wang Gang (王刚)

By Bruce Humes (徐穆实)

 

Among the Emperor Qianlong’s trophies from his conquest of Xinjiang was a girl called Iparhan. She was a beautiful Kashgari whose body was said to give off an intoxicating scent without any help from ointments…the abduction of Iparhan became for the Chinese a symbol of the annexation of the western lands which they had twice before conquered—under the Han and Tang dynasties—but never really controlled.” (“Wild West China”) (1)

Much has ensued since the 18th century Qing emperor snatched this enchantress from Kashgar, located near today’s Kyrgyzstan, and transplanted her to his far-flung harem in Beijing.

The ethnic make-up of Xinjiang, for instance. Once home to an overwhelmingly Muslim, Turkic-speaking population—94 percent of the residents when the PRC was founded in 1949—the “Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region” has been mightily diluted by Han Chinese who, by 2007, reportedly accounted for four of ten inhabitants. (2)

But the legendary fascination of Chinese for Things Xinjiang—the music and dancing of the Uyghurs, the cuisine and particularly the women—endures. In its own unique way, the upcoming publication of “English,” a novel by Wang Gang, a Han who grew up in Xinjiang during the Cultural Revolution, brings those fantasies firmly into our era, and embellishes them a bit.

Translated by Martin Merz and Jane Weizhen Pan, the novel from Viking Penguin will launch in April 2009 [update: published as English]. My interview with the duo follows this introduction. [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…]