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 78 – Gu Hongming and Bonnie Prince Tuan with Lee Moore The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

‘Then each Boxer lad who loves fighting and fun, let him follow the bonnets of bonnie Prince Tuan’ In the seventy eighth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast we are riding to war behind Bonnie Prince Tuan, a poem by a Chinese Scotiaphile that draws a parallel between two sets of rebels: the Jacobites of the Scottish highlands and the Boxers of northern China. There’s no point denying it – this is some pretty weird stuff. Here to lend some Boxer brawn to my Jacobean jesting is Lee Moore of the Chinese Literature Podcast – a show that has already devoted an episode to this madness. – // NEWS ITEMS // Bad Kids by Chen Zijin, a new Michelle Deeter translation, is out! Shaanxi Opera by Jia Pingawa, a new Nicky Harman + Dylan Levi King translation, is out! Found in Translation – Nicky Harman considers the state of translated Chinese lit Why do China books all look the same? – an article from The China Project (formerly SupChina) A third translation of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass enters the world – // WORDS OF THE DAY // (廣記不如淡墨  – guǎng jì bùrú dàn mò – the best memory is not as good as the palest ink) (雅各布派 – yǎ gè bù pài – Jacobite) – // MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE // Angus’ musical pairings: Wolves of Winter by Biffy Clyro, and I’m Shipping up to Boston by Dropkick Murphyd Lee’s musical pairing: Ride my Monster by Enter the Haggis My episode with Sinoist Books’ Daniel Lee on A Looking-Glass World The Jacobite risings led by Bonnie Dundee and Bonnie Prince Charles The Boxer rebellions of 1899-1901 Mo Yan’s Sandalwood Death Can Xue and Kafka – here discussed by Stella Zhu The Hook – Richard Stark AKA Donald Westlake – // Handy TrChFic Links // The TrChFic mailing list // Episode Transcripts Help Support TrChFic // The TrChFic Map INSTAGRAM 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 TWITTER 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 DISCORD 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 HOMEPAGE
  1. Ep 78 – Gu Hongming and Bonnie Prince Tuan with Lee Moore
  2. Ep 77 – Yan Lianke and Lenin’s Kisses with Piotr Machajek
  3. Ep 76 – Huang Fan and Zero with The Hugonauts
  4. Ep 75 – A Yi and The Curse with Jeffrey Kinkley
  5. Ep 74 – Zou Tao and The Fox Spirit of Bluestone Mountain with Timothy Gouldthorp

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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