Xinjiang-based Novel: Excerpt from Patigül’s “One Hundred Year Bloodline”

 An excerpt from One Hundred Year Bloodline,

a novel by Patigül set in Xinjiang

(《百年血脉》帕蒂古丽 著)

Translated from the Chinese

by Natascha Bruce

 

Growing Up In Da’nanpo

(大南坡上的日子)

We lived southeast of Da’nanpo, deep in the desert and on top of a steep slope, which meant all routes away from the house were downhill; toss a bucket of water from the front door and not a drop would hug the wall. Visitors had to crane their necks to see their destination, and even the flies and mosquitoes had to make a special effort to fly higher, if they wanted to come inside.

The reeds along the bank behind the house grew taller than a one-story building. Clusters of plants joined them, springing from both sides of the water channel. There were broadleaf plantains, red salt cedar, fenugreek, needlegrass, spiderflower, mugwort and dandelions, so densely packed that the ground was barely visible.

In summer, snakes lay basking in the sun on the opposite bank, coiled like hand-pulled noodles, some as thick as the reins for a horse, others slender as a sheep whip. By midday, the adults were all napping, leaving us children to sneak around, stealing watermelons and checking on the snakes. The sun made the snakes too drowsy to pay us much attention, but occasionally there was one that hadn’t quite dropped off yet, lying on the warm sand with its eyes half closed. Seeing us, it’d slither lazily away, twisting a path around our bare little feet, then curl up again and fall asleep.

In winter, the banks were shrouded in snow. On moonlit nights, we could hear the howls of foxes and wolves, and the barks of the hunting dogs as they chased after hares.

Da’nanpo was home to Han, Kazakh, Uyghur and Hui families, and we grew up speaking a range of languages. Our mother’s Gansu dialect seemed to come to us mixed in with her breast milk and, from the time we could walk, we eavesdropped on our father chatting in Uyghur with the neighbors. It was one of our favorite pastimes. We learned who had died, whose baby was being named, whose daughter was getting married, which household was slaughtering a sheep to make polo. We followed behind our father whenever he stepped out for süt chay or mutton, like a pack of little dogs trailing behind their leader, hoping for a go at a bone.

For a fuller picture of the village goings-on, we had to use our Uyghur to help decipher Kazakh, using an Eastern Turkic language to figure out a Western Turkic one. This way, we wouldn’t miss out on any of the weddings or funerals held by the several dozen Kazakh households in Da’nanpo. Polo and mutton were obligatory at any big event, but Kazakh families also laid on a puffy fried dough they called baursak, dried, salty yoghurt balls called kurt, and sweet dried cheese. [Read more…]

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: “An Expanded Capacity for Empathy”

. . . I began thinking one of literature’s tasks was to give voices to the voiceless, and to humanize people . . . so my first book of stories, The Refugees, worked exactly in that register, trying to humanize the Vietnamese people. But eventually I realized that this was a task that was doomed to defeat because we are already human. Why would we need to humanize ourselves?

When I came to writing The Sympathizer, I thought I’m done with trying to prove

“I realized that the way Americans were telling stories about this war were completely erasing Vietnamese experiences.”

the humanity of Vietnamese people. Instead, I want to show them in all their complexity, which means their inhumanity too. Not inhumanity as a stereotype, but inhumanity as a fundamental part of human character. And that was really the more important project for writers such as me, writers who belong to subjugated or subordinated populations . . . our task is to claim the same rights and prerogatives of subjectivity, and identity and complex humanity, and inhumanity, that the majority reserves for itself.

So, I hope that what people take from my work is the necessity of thinking and feeling from the position of people who are not like them. It’s a natural human tendency to think and feel for people who we think are like us, and this is both very human and very disastrous. This is partly what gets us into war and conflict, because we can’t imagine the perspectives of other people . . . not simply to say ‘Oh, we need to revise the history of the Vietnam War so that we know more about Vietnamese people.’ The problem there is that the Vietnamese people don’t want to think and feel about other people either, so the larger project is really about an expanded capacity for empathy.

(Text from a video by the winner of the 2017 Macarthur Fellowship, Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer, and himself a refugee resettled in California)

非洲文学:中文译本 (African Fiction in Chinese Translation)

非洲文学:中文译本

African Fiction in Chinese Translation

(包含大陆、港台等版本)

最近更新:2017.10.20

 

本 “迷你数据库” 刚开始建设,绝对不算齐全,只供参阅。至今,原文多半是英文或法文的书籍。虽也有一些本来是用阿拉伯语写的 (例如纳吉布·马哈福兹的著作),因为我不会阿语,我列的是英文的书名。当然,希望将来能包括其他本地语言,例如斯瓦希里、科薩語等。“年” 指的是译著出版年,而非原著作出版时间。欢迎留言!

Introduction to African Epics 

  • 松迪亚塔》(鲍秀文 译, 2003 年)。介绍了松迪亚塔、盖西瑞的诗琴、姆比盖的传说、李昂戈·富莫的传说和姆温都史诗等五个史诗

Introduction to African Literature

Poetry Collections

  • No Serenity Here 《这里不平静》(冷霜、 席亚兵、 周伟驰、 杨铁军、 姜涛、 韩博、 余炀、 叶美、 张曙光、 丁丽英、 张伟栋、 雷武铃、成婴等译,  2010 年)

Short Story Collections

 

Listings by Author’s Surname

Leila Aboulela (阿布列拉; 阿鮑蕾拉; 阿布雷雅; 莉拉·阿鲍蕾拉 萊雅‧阿布雷雅)

Chinua Achebe (钦努阿•阿契贝)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (奇玛曼达·恩戈齐·阿迪奇埃)

  • Half of a Yellow Sun  《半轮黄日》(石平萍 译, 2010 年)
  • Purple Hibiscus 《紫木槿 (文静 译, 2017 年)
  • The Thing Around Your Neck 《绕颈之物》(文敏 译, 2013 年)
  • We Should All Be Feminists女性的权利》(2017 年)

José Eduardo Agualusa (裘瑟·阿古瓦盧薩; 若泽·爱德华多·阿瓜卢萨)

Ama Ata Aidoo (阿玛·阿塔·艾杜)

Uwem Akpan (乌文·阿克潘)

T. M. Aluko

Mariama Bâ (瑪莉亞瑪·芭)

Ishmael Beah (伊斯梅尔·比亚)

Tahar Ben Jelloun (塔哈尔·本·杰伦)

C

Joyce Chigiya (乔伊斯·齐基娅)

  • Lake Haven 海文湖》(姜涛 译, 2014 年)

J. M. Coetzee (J.M.库切)

  • Age of Iron铁器时代》(文敏 译, 2013 年)
  • Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life男孩》(文敏 译, 2013 年)
  • Childhood of Jesus 耶稣的童年》(文敏 译, 2013 年)
  • Diary of a Bad Year  凶年纪事》(文敏 译, 2009 年)
  • Disgrace   《》(张冲  译, 2010 年)
  • In the Heart of the Country内陆深处》(文敏 译, 2007 年)
  • Life & Times of Michael K迈克尔·K 的生活和时代》(文敏 译, 2004 年)
  • Summertime夏日》(文敏 译, 2010 年)
  • Waiting for the Barbarians  《等待野蛮人》(文敏 译, 2003 年)

[Read more…]

“The Mongol Would-be Self-Immolator”:An excerpt from “Mongolia,” a novel by Guo Xuebo

Set in China’s 21st-century Inner Mongolia, the novel is a semi-autobiographical tale by Guo Xuebo, a Mongol who grew up speaking the language of his people. It comprises three distinct but intertwined narratives: A spiritual journey, in which the narrator — ostensibly the author — seeks his Shamanic roots, long obscured in post-1949, officially atheist China; vignettes from the Mongolian
adventures of Henning Haslund-Christensen, born to a Danish missionary family in the Chahar grasslands in 1896, and real-life author of the anthropological masterpiece Men and Gods in Mongolia; and the tribulations of Teelee Yesu, a modern-day fictional Mongol herdsman, considered by many to be the village idiot, whose very survival is threatened by desertification and the machinations of a coal mining company that covets the traditional pastures of the Mongols.


The excerpt from Mongolia below treats comically two taboo topics almost never mentioned in Chinese news reports or fiction: The exploitation of traditional Mongolian pasture lands by ruthless coal mining firms, and the use of self-immolation by China’s ethnic minorities to protest government policies aimed at acculturation.

 

The Mongol

Would-be Self-Immolator

 An excerpt from Mongolia, a novel by Guo Xuebo
(《蒙古里亚》郭雪波 著)
Translated from the Chinese
by Bruce Humes

 

When I arrived at the police station to visit the prisoner, Teelee Yesu was fast asleep in the Detention Center. I could hear his thunderous snoring from afar.

The station was located on the north side of the town in a small one-story courtyard with a single entrance. Signs hung from each of department offices, and everything was spic and span. The Detention Center was in the yard out back where someone was standing guard. That rattling wheeze carried through to the front courtyard.

“You’re awfully easy on your detainee,” I said to the policeman, Little Li. “Snoring like that must impact your work.”

“That depends on who’s doing the snoring.”

That struck me as odd. “You mean snoring depends on class background?” [Read more…]

Last King of Kuqa: Uyghur Author Patigül Launches her Xinjiang Historical Novel

First enfeoffed by Qing Emperor Qianlong in 1758, this Uyghur dynasty in northeastern Xinjiang eventually boasted a line of eleven monarchs, popularly known as the “King of Kuqa” (库车王). Kuqa was an ancient Buddhist kingdom located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert, but to most Chinese today, the term signifies the city of Kuche. The last in the line, Dawut Makosuti (达吾提·麦合苏提), passed away in 2014.

Over the centuries, the various sovereigns met with different fates depending upon palace intrigue and politics of the era. According to Chinese-language Wikipedia (庫車回部多羅郡王), for instance, the 9th sovereign (買甫思) reportedly died in prison in 1941.

Dawut Makosuti himself, a member of the government during the 1940s, was officially dethroned in 1949 with the establishment of the People’s Republic, and demoted to the more humble position of “translator.” Things got worse during most of the fifties, when he was posted to Aksu and underwent “Reform through Labor” (劳改).  His fate in the Cultural Revolution is not annotated in Wikipedia — hopefully Patigül’s novel will shed some light on those years! — but in 1984 he was rehabilitated, and designated Deputy Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In 2004, his palace (库车王府) was refurbished by the government, and he lived there briefly before his death.

A seminar to promote discussion of the soon-to-be published novel (柯卡之恋) will be held in Yuyao, Zhejiang (浙江余姚) on September 11. It was previously partially published in Jiangnan magazine (江南) under the title, 最后的王. In attendance will be the female author, Patigül (帕蒂古丽), who was raised in a multiethnic Xinjiang village by her Hui mother and Uyghur father, and speaks fluent Uyghur, Kazakh and Mandarin. Her tumultuous, semi-autobiographical family saga, portrayed in moving detail in One Hundred Year Bloodline (百年血脉), has been translated into English by Natascha Bruce, and should be published within 2017 by Chinese Translation & Publishing House.

Patigül’s piece on leaving Xinjiang for life in Zhejiang, Life of a Mimic, also touches boldly on sensitive interethnic issues in China today in a way that simply cannot be matched by mainstream Han authors.

Xinjiang Slogan Update: Pomegranate Seeds

Dance to the music, Comrade: “People of all ethnic groups are like pomegranate seeds, tightly embracing one another” reads the banner (upper right)

As part of the global One Belt, One Road publicity campaign, China’s media is publishing a bevy of articles introducing major oasis cities along the ancient Silk Road, including this one focusing on Xinjiang’s Aksu (一带一路上的阿克苏: 新型全球化的城市样本). Here’s a pic from the article, showing modern-day Aksu residents dancing.

Inner Mongolia Film Week: Sep 9-17 in Hohhot

Event: 内蒙古青年电影周 (Inner Mongolia Film Week)

Date: 2017.9.9-17

Venue: 呼和浩特 玉泉区 (Yuquan District, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia)

Details: Twenty-three films will be shown, including six full-length ones: K》,《风的另外一面》,《十八站》,《写真人生》,《北国之春》,《无人》

Burn the books and bury the scholars! 焚書坑儒!

Geremie Barmé takes a look at the recent decision of Cambridge University Press to reinstate content deleted from the online version of its China Quarterly available in China:

Chinese censorship has come a long way.

During his rule in the second century B.C.E., the First Emperor 秦始皇 of a unified China, Ying Zheng 嬴政, famously quashed the intellectual diversity of his day by ‘burning the books and burying the scholars’ 焚書坑儒. He not only got rid of troublesome texts, he deleted their authors and potential readers as well.

Click here for the full essay.

One Last Ride aboard Kenya’s “Lunatic Express”

Writes Thomas Bird from Kenya (Lunatic Express), where the China-built new Nairobi-to-Mombasa railway looks set to render the Victorian-era line redundant:

“Belt and Road Cooperation for Common Promutual Benefit,” proclaims a large street sign suspended above Beijing’s ever-congested second ring road.

China is investing massively in its 21st-century reimagin­ing of the Silk Roads, even if the budget for fluid English translation remains insufficient. This rekindling of ancient trade routes is President Xi Jinping’s signature project and, in the year of the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, the banners are flying the message of globalisation with Chinese characteristics.

Deals have been brokered from Vientiane to Vilnius, provoking critics to cry, “Empire!” and advocates to applaud vital infrastructure heading to countries most in need of investment.

Many of those countries are in Africa and, in May, an unveiling in Kenya highlighted the fact that China’s inter­nationalist wheels are already very much in motion.

But first, a little history …

Xinjiang’s Hotian Education Department Issues Directive Limiting Use of Uyghur in Schools

According to a July 28, 2017 report by Radio Free Asia (Uyhgur Language):

In late June, the Education Department in Xinjiang’s Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture issued a five-point directive outlawing the use of Uyghur at schools in favor of Mandarin Chinese “in order to strengthen elementary and middle/high school bilingual education.”

Under the directive — a copy of which was obtained by RFA’s Uyghur Service — schools must “insist on fully popularizing the national common language and writing system according to law, and add the education of ethnic language under the bilingual education basic principle.”

Beginning in the fall semester this year, Mandarin Chinese “must be resolutely and fully implemented” for the three years of preschool, and “promoted” from the first years of elementary and middle school “in order to realize the full coverage of the common language and writing system education.”

The directive instructs schools to “resolutely correct the flawed method of providing Uyghur language training to Chinese language teachers” and “prohibit the use of Uyghur language, writing, signs and pictures in the educational system and on campuses.”

Additionally, the order bans the use of Uyghur language in “collective activities, public activities and management work of the education system.”

For Chinese report, see: 維吾爾語