Since I arrived in Turkey in mid-June 2013 and resided in Ankara, Antalya and now Istanbul, I’ve seen 3—yes, 3—contemporary novels by Chinese authors in Turkish translation on bookstore shelves. Mind you, 2 of them I saw just a few weeks ago . . . and I go book-shopping at least once a week.
They are Mo Yan’s Kırmızı Darı Tarlaları (Red Sorghum), Anchee Min’s Çin’in Icisi (Pearl of China) and—just out—Tie Ning’s Yıkanan Kadınlar (The Bathing Women).
Based on my “comprehensive” market research, it appears that there are two packaging elements essential to cracking the Turkish market. The first is the mandatory oriental female visage showing at least the lips.
The other is the mention of the Nobel Prize in large type, on all 3 book covers (front or back), as misleading as it might be. Granted, Mo Yan is a Nobel Laureate, though many readers are unaware that the prize is awarded for a lifetime of writing, not for a particular novel. But Tie Ning’s cover quotes Japan’s Kenzaburō—himself a Nobel Laureate, we mustn’t forget—about the novel, while Anchee Min’s perhaps more shamelessly flashes the brand by reminding us that the subject of the work, Pearl Buck, was a recipient.
But that’s not to say that there are only three Chinese novels now available in Turkish. For a more comprehensive list of modern Chinese fiction available in Turkish (as of 1Q 2014), see below:
Ai Mi (艾米)
- 山楂树之恋 : Under the Hawthorne Tree / Alıç Ağacının Altında (From the English)
Gao Xingjian (高行健)
- 一个人的圣经 : One Man’s Bible / Yalnız Bir Adamın Kitabı (Published 2003, from the French.)
- 灵山 : Soul Mountain / Ruh Dağı (Published 2002)
Jiang Rong (姜戎)
- 狼图腾 : Wolf Totem / Kurt Totemi (Published 2013)
Mo Yan (莫言)
- 红高粱家族 : Red Sorghum / Kızıl Darı Tarlaları (First of the Nobel Prize winner’s novels to be translated into Turkish. From the Chinese. Published 2013.)
- 丰乳肥臀 : Big Breasts and Wide Hips / No Turkish title yet. (To launch in May 2014.)
Su Tong (苏童)
- 米 : Rice / Pirinç (Published 2007)
- 我的帝皇生涯 : My Life as an Emperor / İp Cambazı İmparator
Tie Ning (铁凝)
- 永远有多远？: How Long is Forever? / Sonsuz Ne Kadar Uzun (Published in 4Q 2013. From the English.)
- 大浴女 : The Bathing Women / Yıkanan Kadınlar (Published January 2014)
Wang Gang (王刚)
Zhang Jie (张洁)
- 无字 : Kelimeler Yetmez (Published 2011)