2015 Roundup: Notable Works by China’s Non-Han Authors

At the end of each calendar year, a writer of minority ethnicity is chosen to write a longish roundup of notable non-Han authors and their new works. This summary then appears widely in mainstream, official media such as Chinawriter.com.cn. The 2015 piece is penned by a member of the Dong people, Yang Yumei (杨玉梅, 侗族), a literary critic and academic who holds a Ph D. in ethnic literature. To read the whole piece in Chinese, see 2015年少数民族文学:文学使命的新实践 .

The roundup is typically politically correct, so don’t go looking for anything too edgy. Reflecting Xi Jinping’s heavyhanded foray into literary criticism (see Writers React), this year’s is perhaps more so. It begins with a long list of non-Han wordsmiths who penned pieces extolling the patriotic contribution of various ethnic groups to the anti-Japanese war in the late 30s right up to the end of World War II. And every effort is made to mention at least one author from as many ethnicities as possible, it would seem. But overall, the list is worth a look because it does highlight many writers and works you will be hearing more about, as well as some promising new writers. Where I can, I offer a link or two about the author or the work.

Ethnic groups with one or more mentions are the Bai, Chaoxian, Dong, Evenki, Gelo, Hani, Hui, Kazakh, Li, Lisu, Maonan, Manchu, Miao, Mongolian, Naxi, Pumi, Qiang, She, Tibetan, Tujia, Uyghur, Xibe, Yao, Yi and Zhuang.

Bai
Chen Yongzhu: 陈永柱的《大小凉山剿匪记》; 《慷慨同仇日 间关百战时——李根源滇西抗战岁月》.  Same author: 《走到西藏》.
Jing Yi: 女作家景宜的影视作品《丝绸之路传奇》.  Same author: 《茶马古道一个白族女人》.
Na Jialun: 那家伦的《弥渡,不悔的青春岁月》

Chaoxian
Jin Renshun: 金仁顺的《纪念我的朋友金枝》
Jin Zhe: 诗人金哲的《诗碑》

Dong
Xiong Huang: 诗人雄黄的《岑庄》
Yang Shifang: 杨仕芳的长篇小说《白天黑夜》.  Same author: 《故乡在别处》.

[Read more…]

Ethnic ChinaLit: February 2016 Newsbriefs

Perhat Tursun, le Salman Rushdie de Chine: En 1999, le romancier ouïghour sortait son Art du suicide et allait immédiatement être la cible de menaces de mort. Aujourd’hui, il se remet enfin à écrire. (Profil)

Liu Cixin’s much acclaimed sci-fi novel, The Three-body Problem (三体, 刘慈欣著), has reportedly sold 110,000 copies worldwide as of end 2015.  According to the report, this refers to the first part of the trilogy. The second, The Dark Forest, is also out, and the third, Death’s End, will be published in 2016. (全球销量)

Uyghurche ئۇيغۇرچە Уйғурчә | Uyghur language and culture for English-speakers features an excerpt from a translation of one of Memtimin Hoshur’s longer short stories, This Is Not A Dream (بۇ چۈش ئەمەس), as well as translations of a few others of his works.  (uyghurche.net

China’s ambassador to Bangladesh demands – and obtains his wish – that Last Words, farewell letters from

Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s ‘Last Words’ series after censorship

Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s ‘Last Words’ series after censorship

Tibetans before they self-immolated in China, be excised from the Dhaka Art Summit (Feb 5-8). (Last Words)

The obligatory annual round-up of writing by minority authors has been published at Chinawriter.com.cn. Yang Yumei, a member of the Dong people who holds a Ph D. in ethnic literature (杨玉梅, 侗族), follows the traditional format — writers are generally identified and grouped by their ethnicity — and touches on several dozens of non-Han authors and their 2015 works deemed worthy by the literary establishment. This year’s theme appears to be fiction that highlights the patriotic contribution of all nationalities to the campaign to liberate China from Japanese aggression in the 30s and through the end of World War II  (文学使命的新实践)

Chinese literature in translation: Literary magazine Pathlight to appear in Arabic, Korean and Spanish within 2016. (Beyond European Languages) [Read more…]

Links to China’s Ethnic-themed Literature in Translation

Quick Guide to China’s Contemporary

Ethnic-themed Literature in Translation

I’m often too busy to immediately write a well-researched post about contemporary “ethnic-themed” fiction that has been translated and published in a foreign tongue. This is a loose category (民族题材文学) that includes stories — regardless of the author’s ethnicity — in which non-Han culture, motifs or characters play an important role.

In my brief list below, there are entries for fiction (and a bit of poetry) touching on the Bai, Evenki, Hui, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Manchu, Miao, Mongolian, Lahu, Lisu, Oirat, Seediq, Tibetan, Uyghur, Xiongnu and Yi peoples. Unless noted, the original is in Chinese and the translation is in English. But I’ve also included a handful of renditions into French, Spanish and Japanese.

I welcome your updates and corrections.

Here is a set of links I hope you’ll find useful:

General

Chinese Fiction in Translation: Novels/Novellas with “Ethnic” Theme 

  • Table with info on ten works translated into English or French during 2009-14, including writing by Alai, Chan Koonchung, Chi Zijian, Fan Wen, Gao Jianqun, Jiang Rong, Li Jinxiang, Pema Tseden, Shi Shuqing, Wang Gang and Wu He.

Chutzpah! Issue 14

  • Dedicated to non-Han authors including Alat Asem, Aydos Amantay, Baoerj Yuanye, Ju Kelzang, Kanglin Gioro, Lhajam Gyel, Muhammedemin Abliz, Na Zhangyuan, Pema Tseden and Ye Fu.

Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and  Popular Culture

  • This collection presents works drawn from the large body of oral literature of many of China’s recognized ethnic groups — including the Han, Yi, Miao, Tu, Daur, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Kazakh — and the selections include a variety of genres such as epics, folktales, folk songs and quyi. Edited by Victor Mair and Mark Bender.

Pathlight Issue Spring 2014

  • Dedicated to non-Han authors including Alat Asem,  Artai, Aydos Amantay, Ayonga, Dan Zeng, Guan Renshan, Jin Renshun, Memtimin Hoshur,  Jidi Majia, Luruodiji, Ma Huan, Nie Le, Patigul, Ye Fu, Ye Guangqin, Ye Mei and Yerkex Hurmanbek.

 

Evenki

Last Quarter of the Moon by Chi Zijian(额尔古纳河右岸, 迟子建著)

The Nightjar at Dusk (p 28) by Gerelchimig Blackcrane (格日勒其木格・黒鶴)

  • Read an extract from this short story, set in the Greater Khingan Mountains of northeast China, here.

Hui

Funeral of a Muslim by Huo Da (穆斯林的葬礼, 霍达著 )

  • With sales of some 2.5 million copies, Huo Da’s tale about three generations of a Hui family in Beijing is quite possibly the most popular ethnic-themed novel ever published in China. It spans the turbulent years of the Japanese invasion, World War II and part of the Cultural Revolution.

La rivière des femmes: Nouvelles hui by Li Jinxiang and Shi Shuqing (李进祥、 石舒清著)

  • Stories set among the Muslim Hui along the banks of Qingshui River in Ningxia. Translated into French.

西海固の人々 by Shi Shuqing (西海固的事情, 石舒清著)

  • Collection of short stories set in Ningxia’s Xihaigu Prefecture, and translated into Japanese.

[Read more…]

Chinese Literary Magazine “Pathlight”: Arabic, Korean and Spanish Versions Slated for 2016

Pathlight in RussianIn a news item from Chinawriter.com.cn《人民文学》:抬头看路 俯首办刊, we learn that other foreign-language editions of Pathlight — the quarterly featuring English translations of contemporary Chinese writing published by People’s Literature (人民文学) — have been published recently, and several new ones are planned in a host of foreign languages:

Prior to 2016

  • French (2 editions), German (1), Italian (2), Japanese (1) and Russian (1)

Slated for 2016

  • Arabic, Korean and Spanish

Profiling the Hui in Ningxia: Freedom to Practice Islam in Stark Contrast to Xinjiang

In Light Government Touch Lets China’s Hui Practice Islam in the Open (中英对照), the NYT’s Andrew Jacobs visits Ningxia in China’s multi-ethnic northwest:

With an estimated Muslim population of 23 million, China has more followers of Islam than many Arab countries. Roughly half of them live in Xinjiang, an oil-rich expanse of Central Asia where a cycle of violence and government repression has alarmed human rights advocates and unnerved Beijing over worries about the spread of Islamic extremism.

But here in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a relatively recent administrative construct that is the official heartland of China’s Hui Muslim community, that kind of strife is almost nonexistent, as are the limitations on religion that critics say are fueling Uighur discontent.

Throughout Ningxia and the adjacent Gansu Province, new filigreed mosques soar over even the smallest villages, adolescent boys and girls spend their days studying the Quran at religious schools, and muezzin summon the faithful via loudspeakers — a marked contrast to mosques in Xinjiang, where the local authorities often forbid amplified calls to prayer.

Hui authors normally write in Chinese. A 5-volume, comprehensive history of Hui literature, 中国回族文学通史, was published in 2015. See Funeral of a Muslim for a translated extract from the best-selling novel by Huo Da (穆斯林的葬礼, 霍达著). For links to translation of other writing by Hui writers, look for “Hui” in my Guide to China’s Ethnic-themed Literature.

To get an idea how differently the other main China-based Muslim ethnic group, the Uyghurs who reside in Xinjiang, are treated by the authorities, check out My Western Realm, Your Eastern Homeland. (我的西域, 你的东土, 王力雄著).

See also Blaine Kaltman’s Under the Heel of the Dragon: Islam, Racism, Crime, and the Uighur in China for an in-depth look at how the Uyghur and Hui view one another.

Mapping Mongolian Music

In 蒙古音乐地图计划:如何面对外界错位的蒙古文化想象?Thepaper.cn reports on a young Chinese citizen of Mongolian heritage, Odon Tuya (敖登托雅) who has initiated her own “Mongolian Music Map Project” (蒙古音乐地图计划). Her aim: To document the current indie Mongolian music scene – including traditional musicians in Mongolian Music Mapplaces like Xinjiang – via published interviews and, eventually, to capture it on film. A writer and a music critic, she has already interviewed 150 musicians, agents, folk song scholars and fans, according to the report. Here’s an excerpt from the Jan 29 2016 interview conducted in Chinese (translation is mine):

Odon Tuya: Due to regional differences and local cultural history, there are many distinctions between musical categories. Differences in tribal culture exist not only in terms of language and dress; even music has been impacted. When you mention Mongolian music, many people think only of the horse-head fiddle [morin khuur or 马头琴], throat singing [hoomii or 呼麦 ] or long song [urtyn duu or 长调]. In fact, very few people have an understanding of the variety of musical types and instruments involved. Unity evolves and is based upon a foundation of collective characteristics and slight differences. Obscured cultural traditions and the Mongolian spirit [蒙古精神] are what is held in common; regional divergences are what has created such variety and richness . . . be it professional musicians or folk artists, and regardless of the musical genre or the instruments played, they represent the most intuitive manifestation of the Mongolian spirit.

Word from On High: Officially Recommended Reading for & about China’s non-Han Peoples

For the third year, China’s State Ethnic Affairs Commission and General Administration of Press and Publication,

Mongolian history -- in Mongolian -- in graphic storybook form

Mongolian history — in Mongolian — in graphic storybook form

Radio, Film and TV have joined forces to designate a list of 100 outstanding “ethnic” books that they recommend to the reading public (第三届向全国推荐百中优秀民族图书活动).

Their publication is quite an undertaking – several entries consist of 10 volumes or more – and shows that the authorities have spent serious money on related projects. The list includes books in Bai, Dai, Dong, Hani, Jingpo, Kazakh, Korean, Kyrgyz, Miao, Mongolian, Naxi, Lahu, Lisu, Tibetan, Uyghur, Wa, Yi, Zaiwa, Zhuang and Mandarin. It is not perfectly clear from the article which editions are monolingual or bilingual.

The authoritative Guangming Daily, run by the CPC Central Committee, has published a feature story highlighting 10+ publications on the “recommended” list. So, what should the masses be reading?

First and foremost, perhaps, is a Xi Jinping “reader” (习近平总书记系列重要讲话读本). It is available in seven languages besides Chinese: Kazakh, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Yi and Zhuang.

Two that strike me as likely to be appreciated by members of the targeted minority communities themselves, are a comprehensive history of the Mongolian people in graphic storybook form (蒙古族通史, 连环画), and a 20-volume set of Kazakh literature (哈萨克原创文学作品精选). The former is in Mongolian, and the latter in Kazakh.

A 5-volume, comprehensive history of Hui literature – the Hui are ethnic Muslims who write in Mandarin – is on the list (中国回族文学通史).

Bai Niao Yu Yi (百鸟羽衣): A Miao folktale about a devoted husband who must hunt one hundred birds and craft their feathers into a robe in order to win back his wife from her kidnapper.

Bai Niao Yu Yi (百鸟羽衣): A Miao folktale about a devoted husband who must hunt one hundred birds and craft their feathers into a robe in order to win back his wife from her kidnapper.

Two “feel good” books about Xinjiang figure as well. I am From Xinjiang on the Silk Road by Uyghur photographer Qurbanjan Semet – already out in English, and a much heralded novel by Han writer Wang Meng set in Ili during the Cultural Revolution, 这边风景 (The Scenery over Here). The latter is available in Chinese and Uyghur.

走近中国少数民族 (lit, Up Close with China’s Ethnic Minorities) also represents the results of a major project: 55 volumes, each profiling the culture and history of one of the officially recognized ethnic groups.

Other books highlighted by Guangming Daily: a Miao folktale 百鸟羽衣 (lit, hundred-bird costume); 壮族社会生活史, (lit, history of Zhuang social life); and two books about Tibet, 瞻对 (Two Hundred Year Legend of Kangba) by Alai, and 雪域长歌 (lit, long song of the snowy realm) by Zhang Xiaokang, about the PLA’s 18th army’s campaign during the 1950s to “pacify” Tibet.

Ethnic ChinaLit Roundup for end January 2016

Multilingual CASS scholar Adili Zhumaturdu (阿地力·朱玛吐尔地) reports that his 4-volume Chinese translation of the Kyrgyz epic, Manas (玛纳斯史诗), has made it onto the list of 86 books for “popularizing multi-ethnic traditional culture” (全国推荐中华优秀传统文化普及图书名单) recommended by China’s very official State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. An ethnic Kyrgyz, he worked closely with Jusup Mamay, China’s last great Xinjiang-based manaschi capable of reciting the classic that counts over 200,000 lines of verse. Zhumaturdu is also the author of a detailed Chinese-language biography of the much-revered storyteller (居素普·玛玛依评传) that I discuss in Jusup Mamay, Manaschi: A Rehabilitated Rightist and his Turkic Epic.

* * *

A typeface that fuses the Tibetan script with Latin letters — referred to as the “China Daily Tibet Font” (see headline China Daily Tibetan Fontat right) – was featured in a report celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It was created as a collaboration between China Daily and Beijing Founder. Details are scant, but no Tibetan names figure among the designers. Interest in things Tibetan among mainstream Chinese and foreigners alike has fueled literary output over the last few years, including the wildly popular Tibet Code (藏地密码) and the controversial Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver.

* * *

Behemoth (悲兮魔兽), a harrowing documentary by Zhao Liang about coal mining in Inner Mongolia, was recently screened in Beijing. Well received at international venues such as the Venice Film Festival, it has been shown to small audiences just three times in China and has reportedly been banned. Watch the trailer here. As I’ve reported before, ethnic Mongolian herders say access to traditional grazing land is increasingly being curtailed or permanently denied in favor of rapacious mining and logging projects, and inadequate or total lack of compensation for the land is also an issue. For more information, see Inner Mongolian Artists Speak Up.

* * *

Tujia folklorist Sun Jiaxiang (孙家香), who documented more than 500 Tujia folk tales and authored 孙家香故事集 (lit, Sun Jiaxiang’s Collected Tales), passed away in January 2016, aged 97. Chinanews.com (土家族首位女性故事家) reports that her collection was officially designated for publication under the Ninth Five-year Plan (1996-2000), and it does appear to have been published (here). Sadly – like so many state-bankrolled publications about China’s ethnicities – I cannot find where it can be purchased online. However, Lin Jifu’s 孙家香故事讲述研究 is available, and it profiles her as a folklorist and a storyteller in her own right.

“This is our Auschwitz”: Introduction to the “The Cowshed”

China: Surviving the Camps, adapted from Zha Jianying’s introduction to The Cowshed: Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, just launched in 2016:

Cowshed "struggle session" from Harbin in 1966: The book is by Ji Xianlin, translated by Chenxin Jiang. (Photo: Li Zhensheng/Contact Press Images)

Cowshed “struggle session” from Harbin in 1966: The book is by Ji Xianlin, translated by Chenxin Jiang. (Photo: Li Zhensheng/Contact Press Images)

At the center of the book is the cowshed [牛棚], the popular term for makeshift detention centers that had sprung up in many Chinese cities at the time [of the Cultural Revolution]. This one was set up at the heart of the Peking University campus, where the author was locked up for nine months with throngs of other fallen professors and school officials, doing manual labor and reciting tracts of Mao’s writing. The inferno atmosphere of the place, the chilling variety of physical and psychological violence the guards daily inflicted on the convicts with sadistic pleasure, the starvation and human degeneration — all are vividly described. Indeed, of all the memoirs of the Cultural Revolution, I cannot think of another one that offers such a devastatingly direct and detailed testimony on the physical and mental abuse an entire imprisoned intellectual community suffered. After reading the book, a Chinese intellectual friend summed it up to me: “This is our Auschwitz.”

The Cowshed: Memories of the Cultural Revolution was translated from the Chinese original 牛棚杂忆.

2016 Awards: Winning Taiwan Aboriginal Works

Taiwan Today reports (Awards):

The winners of Taiwan Aboriginal Literary Awards organized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education were honored in a ceremony Jan. 20 at Hualien Cultural Creative Industries Park.

The 36 recipients are from the indigenous tribes of Amis, Atayal, Bunun, Kahabu, Paiwan, Pazeh, Puyuma, Rukai, Saisiyat, Sediq, Truku and Tsou. They finished atop a 99-strong field in the categories of essay, novella, poetry and translation.

Winners include “Words from Elders” by Lowking Nowbucyang of the Truku, the novella “Stories of Fataan and Tafalong” by Sing Olam of the Amis, and the poem “Mourning River” by Rucu Pawan of the Atayal. The biannual awards were founded in 2007.