Chinese Publishers Discover Spanish

族长的秋天ThinKingdom Media Group Ltd (新经典) has just launched the Chinese edition of Gabriel Marquez’s El otoño del patriarca, and plans to publish another dozen or more of his works (!) within 2015, according to China Daily.

Entitled 族长的秋天, it is translated by Xuan Le (轩乐), who is currently studying in Spain. The previous edition was translated from the Russian, but the new version is from the Spanish original.

Chi Zijian’s 额尔古纳河右岸 (Last Quarter of the Moon) was recently translated into Spanish as A la orilla derecha del Río Argún by native Chinese speaker Xu Yingfeng (徐颖丰), and then edited by a Spaniard.

Osnos, Vogel and China Censorship Percentage Stats

But when can I get my uncensored Chinese edition?

But when can I get my uncensored Chinese edition?

In what a publicist would judge a savvy approach to pre-launch marketing of one’s book, Evan Osnos recently wrote a much-discussed NY Times Op-ed in which he explained why he won’t be releasing his new Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China in Chinese in the People’s Republic any time soon.

In a word, because Osnos doesn’t want a “special edition” of it — with chunks of the original deleted — customized for Chinese readers. That would, he maintains, “endorse a false image of the past and present.”

In her June 20 piece about the brouhaha, Slippery Slope, Dinah Gardner cites two statistics several times: 10% and 25%. The 10% is a reference to the amount of text that Ezra Vogel claims was deleted from his Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China when published in Chinese. And 25% is an estimate of what one Chinese publishing agent proposed cutting from Osnos’ Age of Ambition.

Based on my knowledge of editing and censorship in China, however, if Vogel actually believes that 90% of his work was faithfully transmitted via the final Chinese text, then he is deluding himself. Or, more charitably, he is much more knowledgeable about Deng Xiaoping than he is about publishing in China. [Read more...]

June Training Sessions: Authors of Five Major non-Han Languages Meet their Translators

During June 5-9, Nationalities Literature Magazine (民族文学) organized an intensive “editing/rewriting training course” (改稿班) that brought together the magazine’s editors with twenty-plus Kazakh writers and their translators. Mandarin and Kazakh aside, the magazine appears in Mongolian, Korean, Tibetan and Uyghur, and training sessions for writers and translators of the latter four languages are also scheduled to take place within June, according to the article (改稿班).

We can expect that this will—eventually—lead to fiction written by non-Han authors in their own tongues being published in English. The first step is to get their writing into Mandarin, possibly via Nationalities Literature Magazine, or People’s Literature (人民文学). It will then stand a good chance of appearing in Pathlight, a magazine dedicated to Chinese literature in English translation that is jointly produced by People’s Literature and Paper Republic.

In fact, the Spring 2014 edition of Pathlight will feature writing solely by ethnic writers: fiction by Alat Asem (阿拉提·阿斯木, Uyghur), Ayonga (阿云嘎, Mongolian), Jin Renshun (金仁顺, Korean), Guan Renshan (关仁山, Manchu), Li Jinxiang (李进祥, Hui), Memtimem Hoshur (买买提明·吾守尔, Uyghur),Ye Guangqin (叶广芩, Manchu) and Yerkex Hurmanbek (叶尔克西·胡尔曼别克, Kazakh);  poetry by Artai (Mongolian,阿尔泰), Aydos Amantay (艾多斯·阿曼泰, Kazakh), Jidi Majia (吉狄马加, Yi-Nuosu), Luruodiji (鲁若迪基, Pumi), Ma Huan (马桓, Hui) and Nie Le (聂勒, Wa); and non-fiction by Patigul (帕蒂古丽, Uyghur), Ye Fu (野夫, Tujia), Ye Mei (叶梅, Tujia) and Tenzin (丹增, Tibetan). The full contents aren’t up online yet, but the cover, contents page and link to purchase should be here soon. [Read more...]

“A la orilla derecha del Río Argún”: Spanish Rendition of Chi Zijian’s《额尔古纳河右岸》Published

The Spanish-language edition of Chi Zijian’s 20th-century saga of the Evenki, 《额尔古纳河右岸》, is now for sale A la orilla derecha del Rio Argunonline in China (JD.com).  Co-translated by Xu Yingfeng (徐颖丰) and Fernando Esteban Sema, A la orilla derecha del Río Argún joins my English translation, Last Quarter of the Moon, Ultimo quarto di luna (Italian), and Het laatste kwartier van de maan (Dutch), all of which have been published. The Turkish edition is now being translated.

Happily, the Spanish version is the first to use a direct translation of the title from the Chinese, i.e., The Right Bank of the Argun. I argued for the same in English, but Harvill Secker opted to follow the previously published Italian translation which ignored the Chinese title in favor of the quarter moon “theme.” What a pity!

Narrated in the first person by the aged wife of the last chieftain of an Evenki clan, the novel is a moving tale of the decline of reindeer-herding nomads in the sparsely populated, richly forested mountains that border on Russia. [Read more...]

Manchu Novelists: Storytellers First, and Partial to the Spoken Language

满族小说与中华文化A conference on the unique contribution of Manchu novelists was held in Beijing on June 6, 2014, to celebrate the publication of 满族小说与中华文化 (Manchu novels and Chinese culture). The book is the result of a project sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Fund (社科基金项目).

Editor Guan Jixin (关纪新), a Manchu himself, conceded that not long after the Manchu took power, they applied themselves earnestly to mastering Chinese culture, and as a result, early on most lost the ability—and/or the desire—to  write literature in their own tongue. While that may have been a loss to the Manchu, it was decidedly a plus for Chinese literature as a whole.

The work appears to be a creative and broad-ranging look at Chinese-language fiction by ethnic Manchu from the Qing Dynasty to the present.  A quick summary of a few of the more intriguing topics covered in this book: [Read more...]

建议:建立 ‘驻地翻译基金’,积极征募外国翻译家到中国短期居住

我发表 Open Letter to China Literary Exports, Inc. 之后,《中华读书报》采访了我。欢迎访问:

翻译家徐穆实呼吁:中国文学 “走出去” 的战略要落实到实处

有意思的是,在临时发表之前,下面带 “-” 的文字被编辑删除:

“如果有志于促进与外国翻译家、出版商的合作,那么申领翻译津贴的过程就得更为透明。”徐穆实昨天(6月10日)对读书报记者补充说,“中国作家协会主管这一项目,但我们很多人都是间接知道它的,比如说,作协的网站上就找不到对它的介绍。这样的项目得详细说明,用英文推介,让翻译家们和各语种的出版商都能了解。有些别的翻译家告诉我,存在着一份不予披露的中国‘合格作家的名单;如果你申请翻译的作家不在这份名单上,那么你的拨款申请便很有可能的不到批准。

可见得,“透明”也得有个度。。。

The Redundant Hakawati: Syrian Chaos and WhatsApp Marginalize Traditional Storytellers

AP’s Diaa Hadid reports on a bit of collateral damage generated by the Syrian civil war (Life Upended by War):

For more than 20 years, the Storyteller of Damascus entertained crowds in a centuries-old cafe in the Syrian capital with long, poetic tales of Arab warriors and lovers, acting out scenes with his fists thumping and a sword that he’d swing and slam on a table.

Rashid Hallak was the most famous of the few remaining “hakawatis” in Syria — traditional reciter-performers of old Arab legends.

Now he’s a 70-year-old broken man, his life upturned by Syria’s war.

If you’re interested in these Arab raconteurs, I suggest checking out Rabih Alameddine’s novel, The Hakawati

Update on Preservation of Xinjiang’s “Manas Epic“ and “Uyghur 12 Muqam”

Guangming Daily (非遗传承) recently interviewed Li Jilian, director of the Xinjiang Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center (新疆非物质文化遗产保护中心主任李季莲) about the steps being taken to ensure preservation of minority art forms that have been formally recognized by Unesco.

Here’s a summary:

Manas Oral Epic (玛纳斯史诗)

  • Recognized masters: Only one recognized at the national level (国家级), Shartahong (沙尔塔洪) , is still living and he is ill. Jusup Mamay (居素甫·玛玛依) died in June 2014, and his main disciple, 买买提阿力, passed away in 2013. There are a handful of other performers recognized at the Autonomous Region (自治区级别) and Prefecture (州一级) levels. But they cannot perform the entire classic from memory.
  • Documentation: Jusup Mamay’s full 8-part version with 230,000 lines of verse have been recorded (audio) and were published in 1995.

[Read more...]

Sufi Expert Ambrosio: Dominican Priest Sees no Contradiction with his Christian Faith

Soufis a IstanbulAt Zaman France, Sami Kiliç interviews Alberto Fabio Ambrosio, a Dominican priest from Italy who specializes in Ottoman-era Sufism, and can work from Turkish, Persian and Arabic. He is the author of several books including Soufis à Istanbul: Hier, aujourd’hui (XIIIe-XXIe siècle):

Vous êtes un homme de religion chrétien et vous êtes en même temps un spécialiste reconnu du soufisme. La théologie catholique est déjà assez dense, pourquoi diable un prêtre va-t-il s’intéresser à la spiritualité musulmane ?

Je ne suis pas un pionnier, en réalité. J’ai des précurseurs comme Serge de Beaurecueil qui a beaucoup travaillé sur la mystique musulmane. Dans le soufisme, il y a une dimension qui me fait raisonner en tant que chrétien. Mais je ne suis pas pour le syncrétisme, il faut seulement savoir qu’il y a des interdépendances, une solidarité spirituelle. Qu’est-ce que voulez, il y a des enseignements du soufisme qui me conviennent en tant que chrétien. Par exemple, quand j’ai un coup de déprime, il me revient un texte de Rûmî qui me fait revivre dans ma spiritualité chrétienne.

The Man with Compound Eyes: A Taiwanese Ecological Parable

Man with Compound EyesDarryl Sterk’s translation of Wu Ming-Yi’s The Man with Compound Eyes (複眼, 吳明益著) is out, and reviewed here by Tash Aw (Echoes of David Mitchell):

It is easy to see why Wu’s English-language publishers compare his latest novel to the work of Murakami and David Mitchell. His writing occupies the space between hard-edged realism and extravagantly detailed fantasy, hovering over the precipice of wild imagination before retreating to minutiae about Taiwanese fauna or whale-hunting. Semi-magical events occur throughout the novel: people and animals behave in mysterious ways without quite knowing why they are doing so; and, in a Murakami-esque touch, there’s even a prominent cat. But beyond these superficial similarities lies an earnest, politically conscious novel, anchored in ecological concerns and Taiwanese identity.