非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Jennifer Makumbi on Adichie’s Celebrity

Chimamanda [Adichie] has moved out of a certain realm as far as authors go and become a celebrity. Authors are rarely celebrities. I don’t think Achebe got to where Chimamanda is. No other African author has gone to where she has gone. I’m also worried that those who have taken her up there have also the power to bring her down as they’ve done to white people they once hyped.

So I’m wary, and wouldn’t advise any African author to go up there. They were taking Binyavanga up there and I think that wasn’t good for him. But this idea that Adichie is there because of writing isn’t exactly right. . . . I think she is where she is now because of the TED talks and because she is talking about Trump. She has transcended writing and she has become an icon so that she can talk about Trump and feminism and anything else.

(Ugandan author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi in the Daily Nation)

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Transcending Mother Tongue

We’re so rooted in the idea of a single language, a mother tongue, and of a person’s identity as in some way correspondingly single and transparent, that any attempt to think in terms of a world or a planet is very difficult. It can feel artificial or unnatural. But what a future world literature will require is the knowledge that a language isn’t something that belongs – to a landscape, or a nation, or a person. Sure, this is an era when heaviness is being asserted at every geopolitical level. But there is another way of thinking, according to the terms of world literature. This method will be a form of créolité; its values will be lightness, multiplicity, transformation; and it will make the history of the art of the novel as much a history of its translations as of its original works.

(Excerpted from World literature: lightness, multiplicity, transformation by Adam Thirlwell)

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

非洲文学:193 中文译本

African Writing in Chinese Translation


(PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan editions)

更新/Updated: 2019.9.21

73 African Authors   193 Translated Works

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,法文或葡萄牙文的书籍。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!

最新出版译著 (2018-19 年),请寻找 ***** 在作品旁。

This “mini” database is an ongoing project and is for reference only. To date, most of the original texts are in colonial languages such as English, French or Portuguese. Although some were originally penned in Arabic (for example, the work of Naguib Mahfouz), since I don’t know how to input Arabic, I tend to list those titles in English. The bulk of the list proceeds according to the native surname of the author.

Of course, I look forward to including titles translated from Africa’s indigenous languages in the future, such as Swahili, Xhosa, Wolof, etc. “Year” refers to the publication date of the Chinese edition, not that of the original work. Updates, corrections and suggestions are welcome!

For most recent publication in Chinese (2018-19), look for ***** next to book title.

Chimamanda Adichie is leading the rise

of an African literature wave in China

African Literature 2018:

On China’s Cultural Radar Yet?

2018 Round-up:

Afro-Lit in Chinese Translation

Introduction to African Drama  

  • 非洲戏剧选》( 高长荣 著,江虹 译,1983 年)
  • 幽灵的困境》: 阿马·阿塔·艾杜的《幽灵的困境 》; 奥拉·罗蒂米的《如果:被统治者的悲剧 》; 恩古吉·瓦·提安哥和米瑟雷·吉萨埃·穆戈的《德丹·基马蒂的审讯 》; 约翰·卡尼的《唯有真相》
  • 文章:《认识非洲之窗:剧场、自我与身份

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

Introduction to African Sci-Fi

African Fairy Tale Anthology

African Poetry Collections

  • Contemporary African Poetry非洲现代诗选》(奥卡拉, 奥基格博, 索因卡, 克拉尔克, 奥弗穆尼)
  • 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)

African Short Story Collections 

Taiwan Editions of African Fiction

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)

Peter Abrahams (彼得·亚伯拉罕姆斯)

Chinua Achebe (钦努阿•阿契贝)

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

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

Alaa Al Aswany (亚拉·阿斯万尼)

Ama Ata Aidoo (阿玛·阿塔·艾杜)

Uwem Akpan (乌文·阿克潘)

T. M. Aluko

Meshack Asare (米沙克·阿萨尔)

Mariama Bâ (瑪莉亞瑪·芭)

A. Igoni Barrett  (A. 伊各尼·巴雷特)

Ishmael Beah (伊斯梅尔·比亚)

Tahar Ben Jelloun (塔哈尔·本·杰伦)


Faarax M.J. Cawl (奥勒 )

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)

Mia Couto (米亚·科托)

[Read more…]

The Epic of Manas (玛纳斯史诗): A Multilingual Guide to Related Links


The Epic of Manas

A Multilingual Guide to Related Links



  • Comprehensive 591-page study of China’s oral epics by scholars Lang Ying (朗樱) and J. Rincindorji (仁钦道尔吉). Dedicates 40 pages to Manas, including synopsis, Kyrgyz oral storytelling tradition, manasqi.

The Kyrgyz Epic Manas

  • Selections translated, introduced and annotated by then Ph.D. candidate Elmira Köçümkulkızı, U of Washington (Seattle). Based upon Saiakbai Karalaev’s rendition of the epic.

57 万行《玛纳斯》手抄本被发现原本已被烧毁 (Chinese)

  • News item about discovery of hand-copied Manas libretto in 2014, buried for 56 years to prevent its destruction during the Cultural Revolution. Based on the notes of a manasqi named 艾什玛特·玛木别朱素普.

Legend of Manas

“Manas” Onstage: Ongoing Moves to Sinicize China’s Three Great Oral Epics



居素普·玛玛依评传 (Chinese)

  • Comprehensive 311-page biography by Adili Zhumaturdu (阿地力·朱玛吐尔地) and Tohan Shayik (托汗·依莎克) — bordering on a hagiography — of the recently deceased master manasqi Jusup Mamay. Details his upbringing in Xinjiang, manasqi and texts that influenced him, and recounts how he recited and helped textualize all eight parts of his classic version of the epic — 232,500 lines — despite persecution during the Cultural Revolution. (Note: This work is currently being translated into English by Xi’an International Studies University professor Liang Zhenhui (梁真惠) ).

The Bard Jusup Mamay

  • Biography of the most renowned Xinjiang-based, 20th-century manasqi by Manas scholar Lang Ying, published in the academic journal Oral Tradition.

Jusup Mamay, Manaschi: A Rehabilitated Rightist and his Turkic Epic

  • A critical look at how the Chinese literary establishment has lionized the tale and its master storyteller in the interests of cultural appropriation.

Yusuf Mamay ve Manas Destani (Turkish)

  • A study of Jusup Mamay and the Epic of Manas by Turkish scholar Alimcan Inayet.

Kyrgyz Students Vanish Into Xinjiang’s Maw

  • Gene Bunin reports that Turgunaly Tursunaly, grandson of Jusup Mamay and also himself a manasqi, has disappeared and has likely been detained in the Xinjiang Gulag of “re-education centers” (教育转化中心) for Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz.


Research into Translations of the Epic


  •  This 316-page tome by Liang Zhenhui (梁真惠) details and compares various foreign language renditions and their dissemination.

Interviews of Chinese-to-English Literary Translator Bruce Humes

Links to Interviews of

Chinese-to-English Literary Translator Bruce Humes

(under construction/建设中)


Chimamanda Adichie is leading the rise of an African literature wave in China

  • African fiction in Chinese translation  *  Popularity of diaspora writers


A Glimpse into a Different World: The Millions Interviews Bruce Humes

  • Translating Confessions of a Jade Lord, a novel by Uyghur author Alat Asem set in Xinjiang


How a writer gives voice to China’s ethnic minorities by translating their stories

  • Childhood: Memories of fascination with foreign tongues  *  Life in wild border town Shenzhen  *  An intense desire to think, live and dream in Chinese  *  Exploring China’s many “Other”  *  Transitioning to Africa




Bruce Humes & his Shanghai Baby

  • The translation process  *  As a male translating a female author  *  Zha Jianying on Shanghai Baby


The BTS Interview: Bruce Humes 徐穆实

  • Translating Fan Wen’s Canticle to the Land  *  Post-Gezi-Protest world: China no longer “home”  *  Chinese exceptionalism and walls



Guo Xuebo’s “Moŋgoliya”: Guide to Related Links

Guo Xuebo’s “Moŋgoliya”

《蒙古里亚》(郭雪波 著)


A tale of ruthless ecological exploitation,

a 20th-century European explorer’s fascination with Altaic culture

& epiphany in today’s Inner Mongolia



Author’s Bio + Major Works + Foreign Editions

Présentation: Guo Xuebo (in French)

Writer of the Month: Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing



“Moŋgoliya,” A Contemporary Novel of Strip Mining, Quests for the Altaic Soul and Social Justice


Excerpt from the Novel

The Mongol Would-be Self-immolatorChinese  English  Turkish


Links to Complete Works in Chinese


“Moŋgoliya,” A Contemporary Novel of Strip Mining, Quests for the Altaic Soul and Social Justice


《蒙古里亚》     郭雪波 著

Original novel in Chinese by Guo Xuebo
Synopsis by Bruce Humes



A tale of ruthless ecological exploitation,

a 20th-century European explorer’s fascination with Altaic culture

& epiphany in today’s Inner Mongolia

This semi-autobiographical novel comprises three parallel narratives that eventually intersect in 21st-century Inner Mongolia: A spiritual journey, in which the author — ostensibly the narrator — seeks his Shamanic roots, long obscured in post-1949, officially atheist China; vignettes from the Xinjiang and Mongolian adventures of Henning Haslund-Christensen, born to a Danish missionary family in 1896, explorer and real-life author of the anthropological masterpiece Men and Gods in Mongolia; and the tribulations of Teelee Yesu, a fictional modern-day Mongolian herdsman, seemingly the village idiot, whose very survival is threatened by the encroaching desert and coal mine truckers running roughshod over his tiny tract of pastureland.

Motifs interwoven throughout the tale include the affinities between the peoples of Europe and the Mongols, despite the sedentary lifestyle of the former and nomadic ways of the latter; the fusion of Shamanism and Buddhism over the centuries; two different quests, the narrator’s for the origins of his soul, and the foreign adventurer’s for the essence of steppe culture; and the exploitation and degradation of the grasslands by political powers over the centuries — first the Manchu, then the Japanese and Han — that is in stark contrast to the Mongolian veneration of Nature as sacred and endowed with sentient spirits.


Guo Xuebo, author of “Moŋgoliya”

Now a renowned author based in China’s capital, narrator Guo is back for a visit to the Inner Mongolian village where he grew up speaking the language of his people. One day he finds himself at the summit of Mt. Gahai, the location of an ovoo — a heap of stones marking a sacred site — said to be a Shaman’s altar. Eager for an afternoon siesta, he closes his copy of Men and Gods in Mongolia, pillows his head with it and wonders what has pulled him here like a magnet. Could it be the tufts of slender needlegrass that pepper the mountaintop? Dubbed “the soul’s perch,” it is believed that the soul of a recently deceased person will fix itself atop a strand of needlegrass. When the stalk does not bend, the disembodied spirit realizes that it has shed its mortal coil.

Da Yeye, a long-dead Shaman and elder brother of the author’s paternal grandfather, appears in Guo’s dream. Each human being possesses a tripartite soul, he pronounces: One part inherited from one’s parents, another from one’s ancestors, and a third, a wandering spirit whose reincarnation in the world of the living is pre-destined. The author has recently been consumed by a keen desire to learn about Shamanism, despite repeated campaigns by the Party since the 1950s to eradicate such superstitions. He heard tell there were Shamans among his ancestors. “Where did my ‘third soul’ come from?” he queries anxiously.

This is something Da Yeye will not reveal. The answer must occur through personal revelation. “Return home and ask your mother what happened at your birth.” For now, the author should do his best to look after someone named

The Lion of Denmark: Henning-Haslund’s seal in Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian (collection of Denmark’s Nationalmuseets Samlinger Online)

Teelee Yesu, he says enigmatically. “And never forget: You must not stop simply because the journey is long, nor fail to move a boulder simply because it is heavy.” And with that, the apparition vanishes.

As Guo descends the mountain, he encounters a stranger — named “Teelee Yesu”— searching for three head of missing cattle. Thus begins the saga of the narrator’s involvement with this deceptively simple-minded Mongolian herdsman, who will pop up throughout the tale.

Perceived locally as a writer with influential Beijing connections, Guo frequently intercedes on behalf of his relative, as much out of curiosity as sympathy. Teelee, it emerges, is housing a “crazy” Han woman, already several months pregnant, whom he discovered wandering in the sand dunes. Incoherent and babbling a Chinese dialect no one can decipher, she urgently requires pre-natal care, and Guo, moved by the devotion Teelee and this mysterious woman show one another, arranges hospitalization for her. At one point, in an attempt to obtain compensation from the coal mine for his sheep flattened by one of their trucks, Teelee ingeniously threatens to set himself on fire (see excerpt). When Teelee is briefly jailed, and interrogated in the middle of the night by unidentified agents — self-immolation is treated as a “terrorist” act in today’s PRC — Guo visits and tries to get him released. [Read more…]

非漂 [Fēi Piāo]:非洲文学在中国 — 2018 年终总结

非洲文学在中国 —

2018 年终总结

Bruce Humes/文

(徐穆实,非漂 [Fēi Piāo] 博主)


2017年,中国大陆渴望体验非洲文学的读者只能看到 8 种新作,全部从英语或法语翻译。作

米亚·科托《梦游之地》,2018 年译成中文的葡语小说之一

者身份也偏重那些侨居海外的著名“流浪”作家,如 Chimamanda Adichie (奇玛曼达·阿迪奇埃)和 Alain Mabanckou (阿兰·马邦库)。而且 8 种有 3 种作者是尼日利亚人。

近两年,我通过建立“非洲文学:中文译本”(African Writing in Chinese Translation)双语数据库,记录非洲文学引进中国的情况。数据库收录的引进版非洲文学作品,从 1960 年代以来到 2018 年末,总共有 143 种。搜集的大部分是中长篇小说,也有少数短篇小说集、诗集。

2018 年一年的新作品达到13种,也更加多样:

  • 多半译自葡萄牙语或阿拉伯语
  • 四名作者来自葡语系国家(安哥拉、莫桑比克),三名来自地中海沿岸国家,其他来自撒哈拉以南非葡语系国家(肯尼亚、尼日利亚、南非)
  • 体裁有中长篇、短篇集、戏剧


中国出版商一直有个不招人待见的坏习惯,引人误会:书脊、版权页上只说了作者国籍,却不一定标明这本书译自什么语言。于是,读东非文学的中国读者完全有理由相信,某本小说的中文版是从斯瓦西里语直接翻的,其实是从英译文转译的。这种 “暧昧” 也许是因为国内某些小语种的译者实在太少,出版商又希望少花钱,缩短上市的时间,就会从英译文转译。


我最近的另外一篇文章《Can Literary Exports Change Chinese Perceptions of Africa? 》当中写到非洲文学翻译出版在中国大约有三次 “浪潮”:

第一次浪潮发生在 1980 年代,受意识形态驱动。国家政策要增进与第三世界、新独立国家的团结,于是外文出版社等国营机构翻译出版了大量非洲作品,如:尼日利亚作家 Wole Soyinka (沃莱·索因卡),肯尼亚小说家 Ngugi wa Thiong’o (恩古吉·瓦·提安哥),塞内加尔诗人(前总统)Léopold Sédar Senghor (列奥波尔德·塞达·桑戈尔),Mouloud Mammeri (阿尔及利亚作家穆鲁德·玛梅利) 等。甚至还给儿童出了非洲民间故事选集。

到了90 年代和 21 世纪,中国的非洲文学引进却变得头重脚轻,只重视一些摘得诺贝尔文学奖等世界级文学大奖的明星作家。引进速度变慢,而且专注于诺奖得主,例如在南非出生或长大的欧洲裔作家 J. M. Coetzee (J.M.库切)、Nadine Gordimer (纳丁·戈迪默),Naguib Mahfouz (埃及作家纳吉布·马哈福兹)。有社会主义色彩的思想家作品反而相对被忽视。

相比之下,2018 年 “进口” 的非洲作品各有特色,令人耳目一新。诚然,尼日利亚作家奇玛曼达·阿迪奇埃(今年翻译列表上的 “二进宫”)和莫桑比克作家 Mia Couto(米亚·科托)早已在国际文坛上混得风生水起,出版商因此而认定他们在中国也能大卖。但至少,他们不再是诺贝尔奖得主或者是英国曼布克奖得主了,更不再是尼日利亚的


钦努阿·阿契贝或者沃莱·索因卡之类的非洲第一代经典作家了。(参见:《Still Stuck on ‘Things Fall Apart’?》 )

此外,这 13 种书,有几种的原著是几十年前出版的,显然并不是因为在国际市场上正当红而被选中。包括:埃及作家陶菲格·哈基姆剧本《洞中人》,1933 年第一版;还有肯尼亚作家恩古吉·瓦·提安哥的短篇小说集《隐居》,1975年第一版。古吉·瓦·提安哥坚持用其母语 Kikuyu(吉库尤语) 写作,以此闻名。还有一本短篇集《大地的葬礼》,收录 14 位南非作家的短篇小说,都是 1994 年南非种族隔离打破之前那些年创作的。

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Jerry Pinto on the Task of a Translator

It grieves me some times to hear people say: But you must have lost so much of the flavor and color of the original when you took it across to English.

Of course you did…

So to begin again.
You love a book for what it is.
You make it into another language.
You unmake the book.
You must now seek to make sure that what you loved has come through.

This means a balancing act between what it was and how you loved it and what you are making it and how you must get other people to love it.

(Excerpted from “Time for polyphony” : Jerry Pinto on the Task of a Translator)

2018 Round-up: AfroLit in Chinese Translation

2018 Round-up:

AfroLit in Chinese Translation

By Bruce Humes

What a difference a year makes.

In 2017, readers in mainland China keen to experiment and read newly translated novels from Africa could choose from just 8 titles, all from the English or French, and weighted in favor of high-

Mia Couto’s “Terra Sonâmbula”: One of several Lusophone novels to be rendered in Chinese within 2018.

profile “diaspora” authors writing from abroad, such as Chimamanda Adichie and Alain Mabanckou. And 3 of those books were written by Nigerians.

As 2018 comes to an end, according to the bilingual database African Writing in Chinese Translation, there are 143 titles dating from the sixties through today — mainly novels, but a handful of short story and poetry collections too — from which to choose.

The 2018 batch of new titles — 13 in all — looks rather more varied. To wit:

  • The majority were penned in Portuguese or Arabic
  • Four of the authors hail from Lusophone countries (Angola, Mozambique), three from countries bordering on the Mediterranean, and the others are natives of sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa)
  • Novels, short stories and drama are all represented

Variety aside, another good sign is that by and large, the newer titles have been translated from their original language, in this case, mainly Portuguese and Arabic. I have not confirmed this with the publishers, but various online entries indicates that several of the translators hold advanced degrees in these tongues, and have translated several books from them.

China-based publishers are notorious for a misleading practice: the nationality of the author — not necessarily the language of the source text — is often noted on the spine or copyright page. Thus the reader may well believe she is reading a novel translated direct from the Swahili, when the source text is actually the English rendition of a Swahili original. The reason: a dearth of translators from certain languages, and often, the desire to cut costs and shorten time-to-market by translating from the English.

Tawfiq al-Hakim’s “People of the Cave”: Arguably Egypt’s first script destined for production on a stage.

As detailed recently in Can Literary Exports Change Chinese Perceptions of Africa?, there have been “three waves of African literary imports”:

The first, which emerged in the 1980s, was ideologically driven. Empowered by Beijing’s policy of promoting solidarity with the Third World and newly independent nations, state-run imprints like the Foreign Literature Publishing House translated and published a substantial number of African works such as those by the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, the Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the Senegalese poet (and former president) Léopold Sédar Senghor, and the Algerian writer Mouloud Mammeri. Anthologies of translated African folktales for children even appeared.

During the ’90s and 2000s, imported African literature was top-heavy with winners of globally recognized awards such as the Nobel Prize in Literature. Imports slowed and tended to focus less on the works of socialist-inspired thinkers in favor of high-profile Nobel laureates such as J. M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer, both with South African roots, and Egypt’s Naguib Mahfouz.

By comparison, the 2018 crop appears refreshingly distinct. Admittedly, there are two authors on the list, Chimamanda Adichie (a recidivist) and Mia Couto, who can be counted on to sell well because of their notoriety. But they have proven themselves mainly in the global marketplace; they are not Nobel

Laureates or Booker Prize Winners as were a few of the first African authors — such as Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe or Wole Soyinka —  who were subsequently widely published

The latest from “African diaspora” writer Chimamanda Adichie

in Chinese  (Still Stuck on “Things Fall Apart?“).

Several of the 13 new titles are translations of works that were actually published decades ago, and thus were obviously not chosen for their current popularity. They include People of the Cave, a play by Egypt’s Tawfiq al-Hakim, first published in 1933; Secret Lives and Other Stories by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, known for his insistence on writing in his mother tongue Kikuyu, published in 1975; and a short story collection featuring 14 South African authors writing in the years leading up to the beginning of black-majority rule in 1994.