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 73 – A Que and Farewell, Doraemon with Eero Suoranta The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

‘This cartoon will never end’ In the seventy third episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, Eero Suoranta and I are saying Farewell, Doraemon (再见,哆啦A梦 / zàijiàn, duōlaAmèng). This is the second time a story by A Que has appeared on the show, and I feel that I now know the writer’s soul: tender in spirit, thoughtful in action, of limpid and eerie atmosphere, and shy about everything except postmodern intertextual showmanship. Pass with us through a loop in time hidden in a lonely river, to drown in nostalgia (from the Greek nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain’). – // NEWS ITEMS // READ: a review of Zhang Yueran’s Cocoon, tr. Jeremy Tiang WATCH: Ma Yuan: The Chinese Avant-garde, Metafiction and Post-postmodernism ATTEND: the Festival of Chinese Translation at Aberdeen Uni META NEWS: I’ll be hosting an event on Empires of Dust – // WORDS OF THE DAY // (动画 – dònghuà – animation ) (90后 – jiǔ líng hòu – 90s kids) – // MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE // Eero’s musical pairing: Moonmin Took My Head by Ritual Angus’ musical pairing: Roads by Portishead Video CDs Cara Healey’s theory of generic hybridity Flower of the Other Shore Ye Yonglie’s Little Smarty Finnconn 2022 Sadan aaveen öinen paraati – Xia Jia’s A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight, in Finnish – // Handy TrChFic Links // The TrChFic mailing list Episode Transcripts Help Support TrChFic The TrChFic Map INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // DISCORD // HOMEPAGE
  1. Ep 73 – A Que and Farewell, Doraemon with Eero Suoranta
  2. Ep 72 – Han Song and My Country Does Not Dream with the London Chinese Science Fiction Group
  3. Ep 71 – Feng Jicai and A Looking-Glass World with Daniel Li
  4. Ep 70 – The Adventures of Ma Suzhen with Paul Bevan
  5. Ep 69 – Xue Mo and The Women, the Camels, and the Dholes with Sarah Lam and Nicola Clayton

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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