非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbriefs: September 2018

Interview with Alain Mabanckou : La langue française c’est la langue de la dictature.

Teju Cole on excellence in writing: I met Philip Roth a couple of times. I didn’t particularly know him, but I was invited to his funeral and I went. While I was standing by his graveside . . . an old lady came
up to me and said, 
I’m so glad you came. Just before Philip died, the last time I saw him, he wanted to discuss your essay about James Baldwin and he particularly liked that part. . . she’s telling me this while I was looking at the man’s coffin inside the grave with some handfuls of earth on it. A couple of things happened there for me. One is that I was immensely moved. Another thing that occurred to me was: whatever thing that got me to that point, I need to keep doing it to the best of my ability. 

Michael Orthofer reviews Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka, a novel based on a real-life figure, also known as Shaka Zulu, who lived from ca. 1787 to 1828: While Chaka begins as an almost psychological study into what might have made Chaka the man — and ruthless militarist — he became, in focusing on his horrible and numbing childhood, Mofolo nevertheless can’t resist providing a supernatural explanation to his success. Chaka’s powers — even medicine-enhanced — do also come from within, but Mofolo makes Isanusi and his interventions essential to Chaka’s success (if one can ultimately call it that …).

Low-cost hair extensions: When salons do not openly advertise openly the provenance of their bundles, China is the often unspoken source of most natural and synthetic hair circulating in Africa.

Tanzania clamps down on flow of data about the country, writes Abdi Latif Dahir: In a bill tabled in parliament this week, the government aims to criminalize aims the collection, analysis, and dissemination of any data without first obtaining authorization from the country’s chief statistician. The key amendments to the Statistics Act also prohibit researchers from publicly releasing any data “which is intended to invalidate, distort, or discredit official statistics.” Any person who does anything to the contrary could merit a fine of not less than 10 million shillings ($4,400), a jail term of three years, or both.

Ndugu Maillu points out the elephant in the room — an unwillingness to publish in indigenous languages: What is the future of literature in vernacular in Kenya when all the publishers have developed set minds that publishing in vernacular is not worth any commercial effort? Even the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation does not touch publishing in vernacular despite being a national cultural foundation. Similarly, the Kenya Literature Bureau is allergic to it although it is a government institution. Only during colonial days did Kenya Literature Bureau publish some books in vernacular. Only the Bible, supported by missionaries, has been translated and published in vernacular.

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Bantu Swahili — How to Steal a Language from Africa

Swahili poetic wealth was attributed to the linguistic and cultural oomph injected by Arabic into Bantu languages. A few hundred kilometers from the coast at Milimani Primary School in Naivasha, Kenya, we recited Arabic words during compulsory Swahili language lessons. Our Swahili teacher encouraged us to learn Arabic words in order to improve our Swahili proficiency.

Yet this language happens to be a treasure Africa cannot afford to give away. Apart from being one of the most widely spoken languages on the continent—enjoying over 100 million speakers—it happens to be exceptionally beautiful to the African ear. To listen to Swahili spoken in native fluency is to be immersed in a musical performance. To master the language is to learn how to stage the performance and get carried away in its self-assured rhythm, to become a bard of your own experiences. A flawless deliverance of Swahili is a cultural badge of honor in East Africa.

 

(Excerpted from Bantu’s Swahili, or How to Steal a Language from Africa by Kamau Muiga)

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbriefs: August 2018

It took 50 years, but Come Back, Africa! Fourteen Short Stories from South Africa has been translated into Chinese and recently launched in the PRC, as 《大地的葬礼: 南非经典短篇小说翻译与赏析》. Edited by 谭惠娟 and 倪志娟, it features short stories by Alan Paton, Es’kia Mphahele, Lewis Nkosi, Alex La Guma and others. Which makes you wonder: Where are the Chinese translations of more contemporary fiction writers? Check out Brittle Paper for excerpts and the latest news on the African literary scene.

In The 40-year-old “prophetic” novel that predicted the troubles of modern-day Zimbabwe, Tinashe Mushakavanhu reminds us of the prescient novel The House of Hunger and Dambudzo Marechera, its mercurial author. His rebelliousness . . . is captured in his outlandish behavior at the 1979 Guardian Fiction Prize ceremony where he threw plates and cups at walls and chandeliers, partly a response to the way he had been packaged for a rich white audience whom he accused of celebrating him while his people were suffering and being killed by the Rhodesian forces.

Writer Chibundu Onuzo chides Economist Intelligence Unit for finding Lagos one of the ten least liveable cities in the world:  To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and global liveability indexes.

In War and Literature in Mogadishu, Najala Nyabola asks: In the week before the book fair, a car
bomb in Mogadishu killed a number of people, while a popular young entrepreneur named Mo Sheikh Ali was assassinated in broad daylight. What does it mean to hold a book fair in the middle of so much uncertainty?

People’s Literature Publishing House has just launched 《隐居》, the Chinese translation of Secret Lives, and other Short Stories by Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. The English edition was first published in 1975, and is described by Penguin as bringing together “a range of  Ngugi’s political short stories. From tales of the meeting between magic and superstition, to stories about the modernizing

The first collection of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s short stories to appear in Chinese

forces of colonialism, and the pervasive threat of nature, this collection celebrates the storytelling might of one of Africa’s best-loved authors.”  The Chinese edition contains 17 stories, including 穆古莫, 黑鸟, 梅赛德斯的葬礼and 再见,非洲. Ngũgĩ began writing in his native Gikuyu and Swahili in 1967, but it is not clear if any of these works were penned in — or translated direct from — these indigenous languages.  Three of his novels have previously been rendered in Chinese, all published in the 80s: A Grain of Wheat一粒麦种》, The River Between大河两岸》and Weep Not, Child孩子,你别哭》.

Banned in Nigeria: Quartz Africa reports on a music video by rapper Falz, This is Nigeria, his “take” on Childish Gambino’s This is America. Not too hard to understand why the authorities are less than pleased. Just check out the video (below) featuring chibokesque girls in hijab. A taste of the lyricsThis is Nigeria/Praise and worship we singing now/Pastor put his hands on the breast of his members/He’s pulling the demons out/This is Nigeria/No electricity daily o/Your people are still working multiple jobs/And they talk say we lazy o

Mozambique’s Lusophone novelist Mia Couto (米亚·科托) will appear onstage in three forums at Shanghai Book Fair’s “Int’l Literary Week” (上海国际文学周) on August 14, 16 and 17. See here for news on the recent publication of 《母狮的忏悔》, translated from his novel A confissão da leoa. Three of his novels should be out in Chinese within 2018. For details, click here and scroll down to “Couto” under “C”. 上海国际文学周专访: “人们对非洲最大的误解” and “战争、殖民、疾病、贫穷,除了这些粗暴的标签,我们对非洲一无所知”.

Self-portraits of Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop (at left) “reframe African revolt through the lens of football fandom.”

Looking back at the design of the “African Writers Series”: In Judged by its Covers, James MacPhee highlights a dozen or so covers from Heinemann’s flagship project — famously dissed as “the Orange Ghetto” by Woyle Soyinka — and comments on the graphics.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature longlist — which focuses on drama this year — is out. A shortlist of three is expected in September and a possible winner (sometimes there isn’t one!) will be announced by the Advisory Board in October. The award rotates among four genres: fiction, poetry, dram and children’s literature, repeating the cycle every four years. With the total prize value of US$100,000 for the individual winner, it is the heftiest literary award in Africa. The 2018 longlist comprises 11 plays chosen from 89 entries, selected by a panel of three judges: Matthew Umukoro, professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan; Mohammed Inuwa Umar – Buratai, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Ahmadu Bello

China’s Confucius Institute penetration of Africa: From zero sites in 2004 to 48 today, second only to France’s Alliance Française

University (Zaria); and Ngozi Udengwu, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Nigeria (Nsukka).

Call for submissions (thru Sep 28) in post-Mugabe era: The Village Square Journal in Lagos seeks “reflective essays, short non-fiction, poetry and visual art that explore the current mood of Zimbabweans.”

Michael Orthofer reviews francophone author Alain Mabanckou’s The Tears of a Black Man. Writes Mabanckou: Born in Africa, in the Congo-Brazzaville, I spent a good part of my youth in France before settling in the United States. Congo is where my umbilical cord is buried, France is the adopted homeland of my dreams, and America is a corner from which I can observe the footsteps of my wanderings.

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

非洲文学:132 中文译本

African Writing in Chinese Translation

(包含大陆、港台等版本)

更新:2018.8.26

  56 African Authors      132 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

The latest novel from “African diaspora” writer Chimamanda Adichie to appear in Chinese

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!

African Literature 2018:

On China’s Cultural Radar Yet?

 

Introduction to African Drama  

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

  • 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)

Short Story Collections 

Taiwan Editions

 

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)

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)

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)

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)

Mia Couto (米亚·科托)

[Read more…]

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Culture doesn’t just live in museums

Lagos is judged [by Economist Intelligence Unit’s index] one of the 10 least liveable cities in the world, and London comes much higher in the desirability rankings, at number 48…In the culture and environment category, which

From Nigerian illustrator William Chechet’s “We are the North”

 

includes recreational activities, Vienna scored 96.3 out of 100 and Lagos just 53.5. Now I’ve been to Vienna, and I’ve lived in Lagos, and there is no way Vienna is 43 points ahead of Lagos in culture and environment. Just ask Emmanuel Macron, who recently made a pilgrimage to Fela Kuti’s New Afrika Shrine in Lagos. Lagos is a city of galleries under bridges, where artists paint and display for free. It’s a city of owambe parties that last until dawn. Every weekend there is a royal wedding that shuts down roads and stops traffic. Lagos is a city of fashion, home to the third biggest film industry in the world, and its Afrobeat music pulses out to reach the ears of a global audience. It’s obvious the statisticians didn’t know where to look.

(Excerpted from Who says the most liveable city is in the west? Culture doesn’t just live in museums by Chibundu Onuzo)

African Literature: On China’s Cultural Radar Yet?

Can Literary Imports Change Chinese Perceptions of Africa?, my piece on AfroLit in Chinese is up now at Sixth Tone:

Since the founding of the modern Chinese state in 1949, there have been three waves of African literary imports. The first, which emerged in the 1980s, was ideologically driven. Empowered by

Nigeria’s Chimamanda Adichie is hot in China: Her “Dear Ijeawele” (亲爱的安吉维拉), is due out in 3Q 2018 — her sixth book to appear in Chinese.

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.

To learn about the 2ndand now the 3rd— most recent wave — click here.

For more about African writing in China, read Feminist: A Dirty Word in Xi Jinping’s China?, or check out my bilingual database of African prose in Chinese translation (非洲文学:中文译本).

Extract: Alat Asem’s Novel “Confessions of a Jade Lord” (时间悄悄的嘴脸)

Available now in e-book form at Kobo.com

An excerpt from the newly published Xinjiang-based novel by Alat Asem,

Confessions of a Jade Lord

《时间悄悄的嘴脸》

Chapter 19

Rechristening a High-rise

In the midst of his hectic days as minor-character-cum-stagehand, Exet the Mouse’s magnificent new sobriquet — “Suet Exet” — fails to resonate. Those two sheep were indeed sacrificed in vain. Afterwards, he didn’t bother to keep his promise to invite the jade lords out to drink either; he embraced his bad luck. “There’s a history to your nickname,” says Eysa ASAP to console him, “and history cannot be rewritten.”

Eysa sets to work quickly seeking a middle-man to lobby for talks to buy all twelve stories of the high-rise that belongs to Big Stick Obul, who dug his first bucket of gold in a coal mine. In the end, it’s Silver-tongue Salam, endowed with the gift of gab that can entice buyer and seller to the negotiating table, who turns the trick.

Salam’s deal-closing skills were first practiced at the Saturday second-hand bike market. As dust danced in the square, he honed his persona and honeyed trap. With help from splendiferous Time, the money in his pocket prospered year after year, and nourished his heart.

After dining on handheld mutton at a scenic riverside venue, Eysa, Mouse, Obul and Salam address the thorny issue of price.

“Ahem,” coughs Salam before he begins.

Deal or no deal, mutual trust shall prevail.

Roasted, stewed or handheld, mutton remains meat all the same.

Heroes of the world, you have all come today!

The magnificent Monkey King is present,

And so is our Uyghur Wise Man, Ependim.

It is cool cash that drives human life.

Today’s chop suey is better than tomorrow’s fresh meat;

promises are no good until they are cooked in the pot.

Today’s victory is today’s Paradise!

The big item on today’s agenda is a high-rise built to last. The seller is a person, not a lord, and the buyer is no one’s servant. My mouth is neither friend nor enemy. It speaks for your mutual interests. Had I ever harbored selfish intentions or betrayed bias toward either party, my tongue could not have secured me this bowl of arbitrator’s rice over the last two decades. The truth behind this, I’m sure you all understand.

The building is new, constructed just five years ago. Buyer and seller both have things itching at their hearts. Each of you knows this. My mouth is a hand that can scratch that itch for you. I do not know the depth of the water, but my sincere hope is that both duck and goose may cross safely. I care not wherefrom my camel guests hail, but obtaining some of the peppercorns, black pepper and ginger root is my goal. ‘Feed your master’s donkeys well and receive a good tip’ is my motto.

Blessed is Eysa Xojayin, and so is our Big Stick Obul, a hero who wrestled his way out of a dark coal pit. Coal Mine Mogul, please quote a price.

The mine owner states his asking price, and the figure is fairly close to the one that Eysa has guessed beforehand. This gives him confidence in the eventual outcome.

Obul is keen to offload his high-rise. It’s a matter of money-laundering, actually. The proceeds from the mines don’t have eyes but they have lips, and he worries that sooner or later that lucre will land him in hot water. Once the building is sold, his mind would be at peace, his tongue confident, and henceforth he could hang out at his leisure.

In the six hours that ensue, Salam’s silver tongue binds the two wicked hearts ever tighter. Eventually the high-rise’s surname changes, and a sizable lot of moolah finds its way into Big Stick Obul’s bank account — an eight-digit sum, in fact. On the ATM card, the dancing digits sigh long and hard; in the freezing underground vault, the bills reminisce over their tainted but exhilarating past. [终]

[Translated by Bruce Humes and Jun Liu. For more information about Alat Asem, click here.]

Obama’s Favorite African Novels Underwhelm

As President Obama left for visits to Kenya and South Africa, he featured a list of his favorite African novels on Facebook. They include safe picks — i.e., recognized classics — such as Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

Like several commentators, Quartz Africa appeared less than awed by his rather traditional choices. See here for an expanded list that includes several other contemporary titles neglected by the former president.

Want to learn what sort of African fiction is available to Chinese readers nowadays? Visit the bilingual 非洲文学:121 中文译本/African Writing in Chinese Translation.

新近非洲小说中文版:《母狮的忏悔》(米亚·科托 著)

A novel by Mozambique’s Lusophone author Mia Couto, confissão da leoa, has just been  translated into Chinese as《母狮的忏悔》and published by Citic Publishing (June 2018). For up-to-date list of 121 contemporary African literary works in Chinese translation, see 非洲文学: 中文译本 :

 

 

 

China as Self-designated “Curator” of Tibetan Culture: Q & A with Tibetan Historian Tsering Shakya

HIMĀL Southasian, the region’s news and analysis magazine, engages with leading Tibetan historian Tsering Shakya in Beyond Development and Diversity:

Himal Southasian: How do we then look at the impact of the Chinese state’s appropriating, almost curating the scope of, religion and culture in Tibet, with places like Jokhang Temple having been reduced from living cultural spaces to opaque, ornamental museums?

Tsering Shakya: Curating is a good way of putting it. It changes the way in which people think about themselves, the way they think about custom and religion. It’s a way in which you become increasingly estranged from yourself and your culture. Imagine an African American person looking at a museum of African art.