Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast: Q & A with Translator of “Last Quarter of the Moon”

Angus Stewart recently interviewed me about translating Chi Zijian’s novel that chronicles the tragic twilight of the reindeer-herding, Tungusic-speaking Evenki of northeastern China. The tale has since been translated into several languages, including French, Japanese and Swedish.

You can find the podcast here:

Episode 42 of the Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

Ep 57 – Chih-Ying Lay and Home Sickness with Darryl Sterk The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

‘Chopin always reminds me of being lovelorn in Penang’ [ this is episode 5 of our Taiwan Season ] In the fifty seventh episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast we are suffering from Home Sickness (匿逃者 / Nì Táo Zhě), a short story collection by Chih-ying Lay. Here to ease this terrible affliction is the book’s translator: reformed Buddhist and agile herper Darryl Sterk. – // NEWS ITEMS // Healing with Poisons – a book on the interwining of classical Chinese medicine & poison Ketamine and the Return of the Party-State – DLK’s political history of ket vs the CCP A&Qs on 'Sinofuturisms' – compiled in Verge: Global Asias by Virginia L Con & 胡子哥 TrChFic bags a spot in the Feedspot Literature Podcasts list – // WORD OF THE DAY // (亲源关系 – qīnyuán guānxì – phylogenetic relationship) – // MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE // Herping – not a word I’d heard before!  Small publishers Honford Star, Balestier Press, and Linda Leith 航向愛爾蘭: 葉慈與塞爾特想像 (Sailing to Ireland: Essays on W. B. Yeats and the Celtic Renaissance) Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale – film about an anti-Japanese indigenous uprising in 30s Taiwan Lessons in Essence by Dana Standridge The Mystery Religions of Gladovia: A Novel by Bradley Winterton Kant’s noumena & the Buddhist concept of ‘convenient means’ – // Handy TrChFic Links // The TrChFic mailing list Episode Transcripts Help Support TrChFic The TrChFic Map INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // DISCORD // HOMEPAGE
  1. Ep 57 – Chih-Ying Lay and Home Sickness with Darryl Sterk
  2. Ep 56 – Pai Hsien-yung and Taipei People with Nadia Ho
  3. Ep 55 – Wu Ming-yi and The Man with the Compound Eyes with Cara Healey
  4. Ep 54 – Qiu Miaojin and Notes of a Crocodile with Conor Stuart
  5. Ep 53 – The Membranes with Chi Ta-wei and Ari Larissa Heinrich

如果你正在中国,这链接可能更合适: Episode 42 of the Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

As it is a fairly long interview, I’ve noted several of the themes and when they occur. No guarantee that you can “pick and choose,” but here they are in case you are able to do so on your smartphone or PC:

0.13: Q & A begins
0:17 Turkic languages
0:19 Overview of Evenki within multi-ethnic China
0:23 Treaty of Nerchinsk
0:27 China’s 56 official “minzu”
0.33 Nomadic lifestyle of reindeer-herding Evenki
0:39 Arrival of the Han & their lumberjacks
0:42 As ecological novel
0:45 Eco-feminism
0:49 Female Shamans
0.53 Magical realism
1:09 Gu Tao’s documentaries
1:12 Disaffection of the new generation of Evenki
1:14 Chi Zijian’s background
1:19 Han author, Evenki first-person narrator
1:21 Narrator’s language
1:25 Soviet crackdown on Shamanism
1:26 End of Shamanistic tradition
1:28 Impact of the China Writers Association
1:32 Irony of party-driven collectivization
1:36. Doomed romance between narrator’s mother and the Shaman
1:39 Cultural taboos
1:44 Various titles of the novel in translation
1:50 Translating Evenki terms
2:00 Multilingual glossaries
2:03 Han, Chinese and “Wolf Totem”
2:10 Word of the day: Urireng
2:14 Chi Zijian’s use of Evenki vocabulary

Related reading:

Author’s Afterword

Northern Hunting Culture

Evenki place names behind the hanzi

In the Arctic, Reindeer Are Sustenance and a Sacred Presence

Various versions of the novel: Chinese; Dutch; English; French; Italian; Japanese; Korean; Spanish; Swedish

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