Writing by Controversial Turkish Writer Coming Soon to China

Here, in French, but coming soon in Chinese

Here, en français, but coming soon in Chinese

Like any journalist worth her salt in today’s Turkey, Ece Temelkuran (伊切•泰玛尔库兰) was once fired for writing copy that the government of the day deemed politically incorrect. Her novels are edgy too, touching on sensitive social and political issues, and as a columnist and a novelist she has built up quite a following at home and abroad. While similarly provocative writing by the PRC’s homegrown authors is actively discouraged in the Xi Jinping Era, China’s publishers have apparently taken a liking to the outspoken Temelkuran, and three of her books are now being translated into Chinese.

Due out within 2016 is Ece Temelkuran’s The Sound of Bananas (香蕉的低语), while the tale of four women on the road from Tunisia to Lebanon, What Good is a Revolution If I Can’t Dance (Düğümlere Üfleyen Kadınlar, at left) – which reportedly sold 120,000 copies in Turkey — is scheduled for early 2017, both from Dookbook (读客图书). Horizon Books (世纪文景), which has a virtual monopoly over Orhan Pamuk’s novels in Chinese on the mainland, has purchased the rights to Temelkuran’s book-length essay exploring what it means to be Turkish, Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy (Çılgın ve Hüzünlü). It is already out in Taiwan, entitled 我的祖國:憂鬱與瘋狂 , and will be published in the mainland as 我的祖国:土耳其的疯狂与忧愁. She is represented by Istanbul-based Kalem Agency.

In the China context, three books from a contemporary Turkish writer is quite something. Granted, none have hit the bookshelves yet, but when they do, she will join just a handful of authors with several of their books in Chinese, such as Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak and Ahmet Ümit.

In an insightful interview with Refinery29 conducted in Istanbul’s trendy Cihangir just a few days ago, Temelkuran tried to explain how she sees her role after the recent failed coup:

What are your hopes for Turkey in the coming weeks?

Maybe because of the things that I have been through I am not a big fan of the word hope. I am more into the word determination. My determination at the moment is to tell the story of Turkey from those people’s point of view who have been dismissed. My mother was imprisoned when she was a Leftist student in the 1971 coup and my father, as a young lawyer, rescued her from the hands of generals. This is the family I was born into. These are decent people, and the story of people like them has not been told. These are people who believed that there could have been a Turkey without political Islam, one with equal and dignified citizens. They dreamed of a country that could break away from the vicious cycle I have been talking about. Generations paid for this dream like in Iran, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon or even in Afghanistan. It is almost like Persepolis – over and over again. My dream right now is just to tell this story.

Junma Literary Prize: Winners of National Award for Writing by non-Han Authors

Uyghur mafiosa: Alat Asem takes us into the colorful world of Xinjiang's Uyghur jade traders

Uyghur mafioso: Alat Asem takes us into the colorful world of Xinjiang’s jade traders

The winners of the Junma Literary Awards for Ethnic Minority Writers (骏马奖)  — handed out every three years since 1981 — have just been announced. The competition is designed to promote writing by authors who belong to one of China’s non-Han peoples. Entries are permitted in all indigenous languages. Eight of the 24 winners were written in a minority language, and three were translated into Mandarin, one each from Mongolian, Tibetan and Uyghur.

Of particular interest — to me — is the award to Uyghur author Alat Asem for his novel, 《时间悄悄的嘴脸》(Zuilian). I am currently co-translating this book from the Chinese with Jun Liu.

 

 

第十一届(2012—2015)全国少数民族文学创作 “骏马奖” 获奖名单

长篇小说奖

 

《白虎寨》 李传锋(土家族)
《破荒》 袁仁琮(侗族)
《时间悄悄的嘴脸》 阿拉提·阿斯木(维吾尔族)
《信仰树》(蒙古文) 乌·宝音乌力吉(蒙古族)
《昨天的部落》(藏文) 旦巴亚尔杰(藏族)

 

For full list that includes award-winning novels, short stories, reportage, poetry, essays, and translation, see 骏马奖.

Coup d’état Fiction: A Curiously Turkish Genre

In the wake of the military’s badly botched putsch, as of July 21st Turkey finds itself once again living under a formal State of Emergency (SOE). This should not come as a big surprise to many citizens, because according to Dr. Zafer Üskül, a law professor and founding member of the Turkish Human Rights Organization, as of 2001 during “40 of its 78 years the Republic of Turkey had, in some form or another, been under extraordinary rule,” (Wikipedia). Prominent among them, of course, being the military coups of 1960, 1971 and 1980.

President Erdoğan’s decision to declare a three-month SOE, while strongly supported by many Turks nationwide, certainly has its critics — though many must be fearful of speaking out. In Why State of Emergency Brings Back Bad Memories in Turkey, Diyarbakir-based Mahmut Bozarslan reminds us of what happened after it was implemented in several Kurdish-dominated provinces in southeastern Turkey starting July 19, 1987:

With the SOE regime, Turkey saw the emptying of villages. It started at Anilmis and Boyunyaka villages of Sirnak, continued with Diyarbakir’s Kelekci and would be repeated thousands of times.

Some villages were emptied for allegedly supporting the PKK, while others were abandoned under PKK pressure or for refusing to join the government-sponsored village guards. Villages were set on fire to prevent their residents’ return. According to a report by a parliamentary investigation committee in 1998, 905 villages and 2,523 rural settlements were emptied and 378,335 people were uprooted until that point. Civil society groups say the numbers are far greater.

This State of Emergency only ended in late 2002, after 15 years.

Bozarslan’s article was published in Al-Monitor, an independent online newspaper that reports on the Middle East. At this tense moment in Turkish politics, it is unlikely we will see many such opinion pieces that openly or indirectly criticize the post-coup actions undertaken by Erdoğan’s administration. One key reason: Like the army, judiciary and academia, the media is currently a prime target for purges. Just in the last few days, the Turkish authorities have “ordered the shutdown of 45 newspapers, three news agencies, 16 television channels, 15 magazines and 29 publishers in a decree that was published in the government’s official gazette on Wednesday,” according to the New York Times.  Arrest warrants have been issued for 47 journalists employed at Zaman newspaper, and 17 journalists have been charged with membership of a terror group. [Read more…]

Chi Zijian’s “Last Quarter of the Moon”: Guide to Related Links

Chi Zijian’s Last Quarter of the Moon

《额尔古纳河右岸》(迟子建著)

A Multilingual List of Translations, Book Reviews,
Academic Papers & Related Info

《额尔古纳河右岸》: Translations of the Novel 

Dutch (Het laatste kwartier van de maan); English (Lastchi-zijians-last-quarter-of-the-moon-in-korean
Quarter of the Moon
)
; French (Le dernier quartier de
lune
);  Italian (Ultimo quarto di Luna); Japanese (アルグン川の右岸) ; Korean (《어얼구나 강의 오른쪽》); Spanish (A la orilla derecha del Río Argún) and Swedish (scroll to 7th news item from top). A Turkish edition was planned, but I haven’t found any links indicating it was actually published.

Excerpt from the Novel

Academic Papers

[Read more…]

“Le Dernier Quartier de Lune”: French version of Chi Zijian’s ode to the Evenki to launch in September

In September 2016, the French rendition of Chi Zijian’s 《额尔古纳河右岸》will join several previously published foreign language editions including Dutch (Het laatste kwartier van de maan); English (Last Quarter of the Moon); Italian (Ultimo quarto di Luna); Japanese (アルグン川の右岸) , and Spanish (A la orilla derecha del Río Argún).

Le dernier quartier de luneLe Dernier Quartier de Lune is co-translated by Stéphane Lévêque and Yvonne André, and published by Editions Philippe Picquier.

Narrated in the first person by the aged wife of the last chieftain of an Evenki clan, Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸) is a moving tale of the decline of reindeer-herding nomads in the sparsely populated, richly forested mountains that border on Russia.

Over the last three centuries, three waves of outsiders have encroached upon the Evenki’s isolated way of life: the Russians, whose warring and plundering eventually pushed the Evenki down from Siberia to the southern bank of the Argun River, the tributary of the Amur that defines the Sino-Russian border; the Japanese, who forcibly recruited them into the ranks of the Manchukuo Army; and the Han Chinese of the People’s Republic, who felled the forests that are crucial to the survival of reindeer, outlawed hunting, and eventually coerced the Evenki to leave the mountains for life in a “civilized” permanent settlement.

For an extract from the French novel, click here.

For a list of multilingual links to the various versions of the novel, book reviews in Chinese, English, French and Spanish and more, click here.

Vladivostok, Ancestral Manchu Territory: Home to Russia’s Pacific Fleet — For Now

In Vladivostok Lures Chinese Tourists (Many Think It’s Theirs), the NYT’s Andrew Higgins reminds us that the city was ceded by the Qing Dynasty to Russia in 1860 in one of those infamous “unequal treaties”:

Cui Rongwei, a businessman from northeastern China, could not afford a trip to Paris, so he settled for an exotic taste of Europe right on China’s doorstep. He liked Vladivostok so much that he has made three trips there to savor a city so strikingly different from his own hometown just a few score miles away.

Yet, like nearly all Chinese who visit a city whose Russian name means “master of the East,” Mr. Cui is absolutely certain about one thing: The place should really be called Haishenwai [海參崴], the name it had back when China was master in these parts.

A native of the Chinese province of Jilin in Manchuria, Mr. Cui said it was a “historical fact” that the home of Russia’s Pacific Fleet and the showcase of President Vladimir V. Putin’s ambitions to project his country as an Asian power is in reality Chinese territory.

Or at least it was, until the Treaty of Beijing, signed in 1860 after China’s defeat by Britain in the Second Opium War, placed Vladivostok and other territory to the northeast of what is now North Korea firmly in Russian hands.

Sakharov Prize for Uyghur Intellectual Ilham Tohti?

In an open letter entitled Donnons le prix Sakharov à un intellectuel ouïghour published in the French newspaper Libération on July 14, 2016, three prominent French citizens propose awarding the Sakharov Prize to Ilham Tohti:

Il est temps que l’opinion publique francophone s’empare de son cas : à force d’évoquer les méfaits de Daech, d’Isis ou de Boko Haram, on en vient à oublier que certains citoyens de religion musulmane pourraient faire la différence et ramener la paix dans un monde déchiré par la haine et le rejet de l’autre. Ilham Tohti fait certainement partie de ceux-là. Sa place n’est pas dans le Centre de détention numéro 1 d’Urumqi au Xinjiang, et le prix Sakharov serait à la fois un hommage et un message d’espoir envoyé à une victime innocente de la dictature implacable du président chinois Xi Jinping. Aux députés européens de se mobiliser en sa faveur ! 

Full text in English: Give the Sakharov Prize to an Uighur Intellectual.

Quote of the Week: Wei Hui’s “Shanghai Baby,” Zhang Chengzhi’s “History of the Soul” and the end of an era

这个时代,正好就是我生活着并将继续生活着的时代,这个时代曾经以 《上海宝贝》的方式戏剧性地与我调情,而现在,通过《心灵史》,我将我自己治愈。尼采曾经说过瓦格纳是他的疾病,对我来说,以《上海宝贝》为代表的那种 “小资想家”就是我的疾病,我曾经如此并入高膏  —- 万幸的是,我遇到了《心灵史》这一味时代的良药。

杨庆祥 (Yang Qingxiang) writing “通向真实的世界” for 三联生活周刊 (2016.7.11) about the two books that initiated and terminated the 90s for him.

Elif Şafak on Writing in Today’s Turkey

[Hürriyet Daily News] Would it have been difficult for you to write this book if you were living permanently in Turkey?

[Elif Şafak] Words are heavy in Turkey. Every journalist, every writer, every poet, every academic knows this. Because of words we can be sued overnight, put on trial, demonized in newspapers, attacked on social media. It’s becoming more and more difficult to write and speak critically in Turkey. There is a climate of intimidation and paranoia. Whoever says anything critical is instantly labelled a “betrayer” or “a pawn of Western powers.” There is also widespread self-censorship, which is a difficult subject. How many people among the literati would acknowledge self-censorship? But of course it exists. 

Turkey’s Elif Şafak speaking about her new novel, Haava’nın Üç Kızı. See Elif Şafak takes a swing at Turkish bourgeoisie for the full interview.

Wei Hui’s “Shanghai Baby”: Multilingual Guide to Related Links

Wei Hui’s Shanghai Baby

《上海宝贝》(卫慧著)

 

A Multilingual List of Translations, Book Reviews,

Academic Papers & Related Info

 

Translations of the Novel

Shanghai Baby, translated by Bruce HumesShanghai Baby (Catalan); Shanghai Baby (English); Shanghai Baby (French); Shanghai Baby (German); Shanghai Baby (Italian); Shanghai Baby (Spanish)

Academic Papers

Shanghai Baby: Beyond China (A Chinese Novel Banished to the West) 

Shanghai Baby, Chinese Xiaozi, and “Pirated” Lifestyles in the Age of Globalization 

《上海宝贝》到西方及其它

徐穆实的中国文学英译 (东方翻译 2016 第 5 期)

Book Reviews

“Shanghai Baby” and “Candy”: Back When Young Female Chinese Writers “Wrote with their Bodies”       

Young and Decadent in Shanghai (Die Gazette)

Interviews

Transparent Translator Series: Bruce Humes and his “Shanghai Baby” 

 Miscellaneous

你凭啥要翻译《上海宝贝》?

Sex, Lust, Drugs: Her Novel’s too Much for China

Shanghai Baby (Wikipedia)