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 52 – Monkey King: Journey to the West with Julia Lovell The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

‘An unruly monkey like you has to be restrained somehow, otherwise you’ll never reform’ In the fifty second episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast we are departing from the Tang Empire on a haphazard Journey to the West (西游记 / Xī Yóu Jì). Talking me through the transformations is Julia Lovell, translator of JttW’s latest, extremely readable English translation. – // NEWS ITEMS // A new Can Xue translation is on the way Yang Lian and Brian Holton win first Sarah Maguire Prize ‘Jia Pingwa: Master Storyteller of Rural China’ event, Fri 9 Apr – // WORD OF THE DAY // (游 – yóu – journey) – // MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE // Can’t Get You Out of My Head,  (Dir. Adam Curtis, 2021) The Sinister Way by Richard von Glahn Transforming Monkey by Hongmei Sun The Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel by Andrew Plaks Cultural Syncretism (in a silly video game) (Breaking the) rules of fantasy fiction – // Handy TrChFic Links // The TrChFic mailing list Episode Transcripts Help Support TrChFic The TrChFic Map INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // DISCORD // HOMEPAGE
  1. Ep 52 – Monkey King: Journey to the West with Julia Lovell
  2. Ep 51 – Li Juan's Xinjiang non-fiction with Christopher Payne and Jack Hargreaves
  3. The 50th Episode Party!
  4. Ep 49 – The TrChFic Megacrossover Part 2: Moderns
  5. Ep 48 – The TrChFic Megacrossover Part 1: Classicists

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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